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The Intersection Between Diversity, Inclusion, and Innovation

In this episode, Tim and Junior discuss the intersection between diversity, inclusion, and innovation. We need diversity but cannot unlock the benefits of our differences without inclusion. When we have a diverse and inclusive environment innovation follows. Moving from diversity to inclusion is a journey from awareness to action, and many organizations stop at awareness, believing that it will lead to behavioral change. Sustainable behavioral change requires a commitment rather than just compliance.

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Episode Show Notes

In this episode, Tim and Junior discuss the intersection between diversity, inclusion, and innovation. We need diversity but cannot unlock the benefits of our differences without inclusion. When we have a diverse and inclusive environment innovation follows.  Moving from diversity to inclusion is a journey from awareness to action, and many organizations stop at awareness, believing that it will lead to behavioral change. Sustainable behavioral change requires a commitment to psychological safety rather than just compliance to current culture.


What is diversity? (02:38) Diversity is a matter of make-up or the composition of the team. Diversity could refer to gender, neurodiversity, political persuasion, socioeconomic class or all kinds of elements of cultural heritage. No matter how we look at diversity the composition of the team is a fact.

Why do we want diversity? (05:10) There are two forces a competitive force seeking innovation and a moral force. Those seeking innovation are working in diverse markets on complex problems with complex systems. They seek competitive advantage and understand that diversity is a component of innovation.

Inclusion activates diversity. (08:42) The argument that if we're diverse, we will be able to innovate better, more effectively, faster. The answer is that's not true unless you can activate the power of that diversity through inclusion. Inclusion becomes the activator. Inclusion becomes the enabling condition that allows us to harvest that diversity.

The five steps of innovation. (19:43) We all participate in the innovation process, innovation is embedded in everyones role. The five steps of innovation are identify a problem or opportunity, generate ideas, prioritize ideas, experiment with the best idea, and then implement if it is viable.

The three categories of innovation. (22:25) There are three basic categories of innovation; 1) product innovation 2) process innovation and 3) business model innovation.

Why do diversity initiatives fail? (31:39) The traditional approach to move from diversity to inclusion is we start with awareness moving from awareness to understanding, to appreciation of differences.  What we have learned is that that doesn't work. It's not enough. What we have learned is that you have to jump into behavior at the same time that you are trying to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of differences. Awareness alone will never lead to sustained behavior change.

Bonding and bridging behaviors. (38:56) It's easier to connect with people who share similar interests and demographics as you do (bonding) but harder to connect with people who don't. We need to engage in more bridging behaviors with individuals who may not share our similar interests and/or demographics if we are to move from diversity to inclusion.

Personal examples of bridging from Tim's life. (46:48) Tim shares two examples from his personal life as it relates to bonding and bridging. One example from his time at Oxford and another from his time in Korea.

Important Episode Links
Forbes: How to Bridge from Diversity to Inclusion
Diversity is a Fact, Inclusion is a Choice
What is Psychological Safety
The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation

Episode Transcript

0:00:02.5 Producer: Welcome back Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy, one of the producers of the podcast. And today's episode is on the intersection between diversity, inclusion, and innovation. Tim and Junior will cover why some diversity initiatives fail and how to fix them. They will also cover why diversity and inclusion precedes innovation and how to unlock divergent thinking. You can find important links mentioned in today's episode in the show notes or at leader If you enjoy today's conversation or have been enjoying any of the episodes of the culture by design podcast, we'd love for you to leave us a review. Thanks for listening. Enjoy today's episode on the intersection of diversity, inclusion, and innovation.

0:00:53.0 Junior: Welcome back everyone to culture by design. I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark. Tim, how are you?

0:00:58.2 Tim: Hey, doing great, Junior. Good to be with you.

0:01:02.0 Junior: Good to be with you. I'm also accompanied by a somewhat unwanted guest, a raspy voice. So I apologize to all the listeners for today's episode. Hopefully we'll have that in check for the next episode. So today we're going to be discussing why most diversity initiatives fail and how to fix them. The journey from diversity to inclusion is a journey from awareness to action. Unfortunately, many organizations as we've seen, Tim, they hit the wall in their attempts to create sanctuaries of inclusion. They want to change their calcified norms, but they don't know how. They launch awareness campaigns. Those can help, but they're never enough. And this is where many organizations stumble. They stop at awareness on the theory that it will lead to behavioral change. That's what we're after, but it doesn't. So what should we do?

0:01:50.0 Tim: Well, Junior, we're not just after behavioral change. We're after sustainable behavioral change, right? We need it to stay in place. And so we need the behavior to be based on a commitment path, not a compliance path. We can get short-term behavioral change here and there, but that's not it. So we want sustainable. I just wanted to say that just to provide that clarification.

0:02:14.4 Junior: It's worth pointing out. It's absolutely worth pointing out. We can get behavioral change for a day. Yeah. That's not going to get us very far. It's a good point. I appreciate you calling it out. So we're going to discuss bonding and bridging. We're going to discuss the behaviors necessary at the institutional and individual levels to really move from diversity to inclusion. So the place we want to start today is with diversity. Let's define some terms. What is diversity? Tim, take us down that path for a little bit.

0:02:43.2 Tim: Diversity is simply a matter of makeup and composition. And so diversity is difference. Differences in demographics, differences in cultural characteristics and attributes, differences in psychographics. That's what it means. We could be talking about gender. We could be talking about neurodiversity. We could be talking about political persuasion. We could be talking about socioeconomic class. We could be talking about all kinds of elements of cultural heritage. Diversity is just a fact wherever you go. Now, if you take one group of people, they may be more homogeneous than another group of people, but there's still inherent diversity in every group of people based on lived experience, right? Socialization. There's cognitive diversity in every group. There's experiential diversity in every group. So that's what diversity is. It's just difference. It's difference. And as I said, it's a matter of makeup and composition. Sometimes you have a lot of diversity in a group, sometimes you don't.

0:03:54.7 Junior: So why is this a topic today and not decades ago? 30 or 40, 50, maybe a hundred years ago to be stark, if you would have said that diversity was a key ingredient in the performance of a large organization, in the case of a hundred years at least, you probably would have been laughed out of the room. In the case of 30 years ago, it's likely that you would have just been dismissed. Well, yeah.

0:04:16.6 Tim: Junior, I'm old enough to know that 30 years ago, we didn't talk about this very much. Were you a hundred? No one was really making the claim or the argument that diversity would help you innovate. They didn't talk about that. That was not some hypothesis that people were putting forward. It was not a topic. So to your point, right? That's fascinating.

0:04:46.1 Junior: Yeah. So since that time, something's changed. The world's changed. We're in a different time, we're in a different place. We've come a long way. And if you're a leader who hasn't identified this as part of the changing landscape, you're going to be left behind. And conversely, if you've embraced this change and you're actively working to improve, again, at an institutional and individual level, you're ahead of the curve. So why do we want diversity? We've defined it. It's difference. Why do we want difference? Tim, you mentioned innovation. So we could point to that as one of the forces, let's call it competitive. And there's also another force, which is moral. So let's go down the road for a minute on innovation. Tell me why do you think this was not a part of that conversation previously?

0:05:34.6 Tim: I'm perplexed by that even today. I don't know that I have a great answer. I think part of it has been globalization. The acceleration of... I mean, just look at the expansion of markets, the acceleration of capital flows, the information revolution that's brought us closer together, the expansion and diversification of markets. So that has accentuated the need for diversity to drive innovation. And I think we've seen that. So that's the market end. That's the competitive end. That's the innovation is the lifeblood of growth. If you need to innovate, you got to figure out how to do it. And you need to innovate for a diverse market typically. So you can see the logic, right? You can see the evolution over time. So those are market forces at work and they are significant and they're not going away. They're just building in momentum and magnitude. So we could talk about this for a bit.

0:06:43.7 Junior: I also wonder if innovation, this may sound like a weird question, is it more necessary now than it was in the past? We talked in a previous episode about the duration of your competitive advantage and it's shorter now than it ever has been. And so you could find yourself competitively in a comfortable position and maybe you had a hundred year timeline and you didn't have to do much. And so once you reached that point of competitive advantage, you could kind of hang out, you could idle the car. You really didn't have to do much in order to maintain your position. I don't think that that's true anymore. And I think that we're understanding now more than ever, the raw material for innovation. How do you reduce innovation into its component parts? And we're finding the difference, diversity is one of those component parts. So let's try and go through the causal chain because I think that that would be a helpful exercise. If we want competitive advantage, we need innovation. That's probably, if we're reverse engineering, that's probably the next step backwards is competitive advantage need innovation. So what precedes innovation? And herein lies the issue and kind of the heart of what we're going to discuss today.

0:08:01.9 Junior: We need inclusion and we're going to talk about why that's necessary. Why is it necessary? It unlocks the divergent thinking. Innovation requires divergent thinking. And as you say, cross-functional, nonlinear and novel thinking. So this is one of the key concepts of the entire conversation today that we really need to understand is the relationship that inclusion has with diversity. And in the context of innovation, it's very fascinating.

0:08:35.1 Junior: It really is Junior. So if we go back and we clarify this, diversity doesn't lead directly to innovation. Diversity has to be activated. It has to be unleashed. Otherwise it lies fallow. It's dormant. It's not doing anything. And so sometimes you'll hear people with this simplistic thinking and asserting the argument that if we're diverse, we will be able to innovate better, more effectively, faster. The answer is that's not true unless you can activate the power of that diversity through inclusion. Inclusion becomes the activator. Inclusion becomes the enabling condition that allows us to harvest that diversity. Because let's go back to what, well, I think it was Steve Jobs that said, innovation is basically connecting things. Let me modify or amend that statement. I would say it's connected people connecting things. They have to be connected. They have to be able to cooperate, collaborate, interact in an effective way. Or there's no innovation. We've seen over and over again where we have a team of very talented, highly intelligent, experienced people, but they can't produce anything. They can't perform. Why? Because they haven't been able to activate their diversity. They're not inclusive. And so what do they do?

0:10:17.1 Tim: Instead of creating norms that are inclusive, they create norms that marginalize. They marginalize each other and they're not able to take advantage of the assets that they have as a team. So we just have to clarify that. Diversity does not lead directly to innovation. It has to be activated through inclusion. Very important to understand that.

0:10:47.8 Junior: It is important to understand. And I feel like in the mind's eye of an organization, if an organization could have a mind's eye, the causal path would look maybe like the one we described, but maybe not. Maybe they're missing that step. And in many cases, we've seen that they are. In the mind's eye of the organization, it could go diversity, innovation, competitive advantage without that intermediary step of inclusion that's arguably the most important thing in there. One of the things that I think is important to call out in this piece of the conversation is the idea that anyone can contribute to this process. That's a key, a really key piece. Everyone is an innovator. What do you see, Tim, inside organizations when you ask the question, whose job is innovation? What answer do you hear? It's fascinating. And I think it's just a mindset and a tradition that's come down for generations. Oftentimes employees will say, well, innovation is not my job. That's the job of the executive team or, right, that's the C-suite or that's the job of R&D. Research and development, that's what you do. I don't do that. So there are in some organizations, huge percentages of the employee population who exclude themselves.

0:12:08.6 Junior: They take themselves out of the game. They do not see themselves as part of the innovation process. They do not look at themselves as innovators. So think about that. But we have to realize that that mindset, the way they frame their roles as being outside of innovation, that is often reinforced by the culture of the organization where they are not given participation rights. The norms of the organization do exclude them, do marginalize them, do push them to the shadows. And so when that gets reinforced over and over, then you say, okay, well, that's not part of my job to innovate because the norm is reinforcing the fact that you shouldn't be part of the innovation process. You're not being given participation rights. If you're not being given participation rights, what else can you conclude? You don't want me to be a part of this. And so the organization perpetuates the mindset that innovation is the job of just a few. And so this continues. Well, we've come to a place in the history of Organizations Junior, and especially in the 2020s, where the forces that are being brought to bear on organizations are so massive and so unrelenting, and the average span of competitive advantage has grown shorter that no matter who you are, no matter what organization or industry you're in, you need to create a capability, an ongoing capability to innovate.

0:13:53.6 Tim: Well, how are you going to do that if innovation is the job of a select few? The folks in R&D and the C-suite, you're never going to get there. What about everybody else? So you have just this small fraction of the organization that's responsible for innovation. So you can see that we've reached this place where organizations, they have to change. They have to build, create this capability to innovate, which they've never had in the past, and that it includes everything, everybody. They need to democratize this job to innovate. So the cultural transformation that needs to take place in many organizations is nothing less than it's an enterprise level shift. That's what we're talking about. This isn't some kind of incremental change in the way we think and the way we behave. It's way more than that. That's a big deal.

0:14:48.8 Junior: So we've identified a few buckets that these organizations could fit into. The first is organization that sees the causal chain as diversity leading directly to innovation, leading directly to competitive advantage. That's one bucket. The next bucket, which you're kind of teasing out, is an organization that looks at diversity, then sees the intermediary step of inclusion leading to innovation to competitive advantage, but only inclusion as it relates to those they believe do the job of innovation. The R&D name, the C-suite, a select few. There's another bucket, which we would call the ideal bucket, where the causal chain looks like this. Diversity, which is activated by inclusion, that inclusion reaches everyone and includes everyone's participation rights. That leads to the divergent thinking. It takes advantage of all the local knowledge. That moves into innovation, which leads to competitive advantage. So there might be more buckets, there might be more combinations, but those are three that I can see very clearly. And that third one is the one that we're looking for. So if we've reverse engineered the chain all the way down from competitive advantage, we see that diversity is table stakes. There needs to be difference as raw material for innovation.

0:16:07.8 Junior: But if that exists in isolation in a vacuum, it's not valuable. So you talk about two different types of diversity, inherent and acquired. Tell me more about that.

0:16:19.7 Junior: Yeah, it's a distinction that's been made that says some aspects of your diversity are inherent. For example, maybe your ethnicity, your age, things like that. Others are acquired. You acquire them, your education, your experience. So you can see that there are categories of diversity that you're born with, others that you acquire over time. Both are important. So we just need to recognize that diversity is not static either. It's a dynamic thing. We can increase in diversity over time. I want to make a couple of other points too, Junior, that I think are very important. One is, let's talk about this term of expertise. This is such a fascinating term. So we say that people have expertise in different areas. And certainly that's true. They become very skilled, very competent, very experienced, very knowledgeable in a certain area. And we say, you're an expert. You have expertise. You have domain expertise. You're a subject matter expert. The danger here is that we say, well, we need experts to do innovation. We don't need non-experts. What's a non-expert? Now, let me add one more point to this. Innovation normally happens at the intersection of different disciplines, different areas of expertise.

0:17:56.6 Junior: So if innovation happens at the intersection based on combining things, then who's the expert for the innovation if it happens at the intersection? There is none. No one can claim that they are the expert at the intersection. They may be an expert at one of the skill areas or knowledge areas that is being combined with another one. But who is the expert at the intersection where those two come together or three come together or four come together? Do you see my point? No one owns the intersection. And so we have to be careful about the designation of being an expert and having expertise because that term can actually marginalize people. So if I say, so-and-so is an expert, but we're not giving you that designation, then you may want to opt out of the innovation process because you say, well, I'm not an expert in this area. That would be devastating because we're trying to bring together areas. And sometimes it's the people that are not a prisoner to a paradigm from a particular discipline that are able to give a fresh perspective and are able to help us combine things in novel and original ways.

0:19:23.3 Tim: And so I just want to point out that if innovation happens at the interface, the intersection where different disciplines come together, where they converge, there's no expert there. Forget about that. So we have to be careful about that. Let me just go through the innovation process kind of step-by-step, Junior. I think this might help listeners so that they can understand even more concretely what we do when we innovate. Let me just run through five steps. This is what we do when we innovate. The first thing we do is we identify a problem or an opportunity. A problem or an opportunity. We go find one. And they're not too hard to find.

0:20:10.2 Junior: Yeah. Some we might hit them. Plenty of those. We might stumble into them.

0:20:13.8 Junior: That's right. So that's the first step is identification. Go find a problem or opportunity. That's step one. Step two is generation. Generate ideas to solve the problem or exploit the opportunity. If you found a problem, you want to solve the problem. If you found an opportunity, you want to exploit the opportunity. So that's step two, generate ideas. Step three is to prioritize. What are you going to prioritize? All of those ideas that you just generated. In step two, you just go. You're not prioritizing. You're not classifying. You're not doing that. But in step three, you do. You prioritize ideas based on their potential and their viability. So this one looks like it may have potential, a little bit more potential than this idea. And you go through that because you can't work on everything. So you have to prioritize. Once you do that, what are you going to do? Chances are you'll take the best idea, at least what you think is the best idea right now. So you go on to step four. What is step four? Experimentation. You experiment with the best idea by doing what? Building and testing a prototype. This is how we experiment.

0:21:37.0 Junior: We take a concept and we turn that into a prototype or a model, and then we test it. And then we go to step five, which is implementation. If the idea is good enough, if through our prototyping and testing, we have something that looks like it's viable, then we're going to implement it. But in implementation, we're going to continue to refine it and then scale it. So those are the five basic steps of innovation to identify a problem or opportunity, generate ideas, prioritize those ideas, experiment with the best idea, and then implement it if it's viable. Now one other thing, where do we innovate? There are three basic categories of innovation. Number one, product innovation. Number two, process innovation. Number three, business model innovation. So if you look at that and then you ask yourself, well, hey, could I contribute to identifying a problem or opportunity? Could I contribute to generating ideas or prioritizing those or maybe being a part of an experiment or maybe an implementation? Absolutely yes. Everyone has the ability to contribute to those five steps in those three areas of product, process and business model innovation. Everyone can contribute. So I just wanted to provide a little bit more explanation so that people are gaining confidence when they hear about the process of innovation, what it includes, what it requires, what we do.

0:23:28.1 Tim: We hope you gain confidence in learning more about how it works. And then you say to yourself, yeah, I could be a part of that. I could contribute to that. That's what we're talking about. If you don't get to that point, how do we then unleash the power of diversity to innovate? You can't. So in many cases, we have calcified culture that needs to be liquefied and then changed so that we bring everyone in and everyone realizes, oh, innovation is embedded in my job description. Actually, it's embedded in everyone's job description. And we finally get that. And it doesn't matter if you're the CEO or the last person hired, innovation is your job. So you can see that we have obstacles, Junior, to overcome, to fully democratize innovation, to change the mindset and to unleash the power of diversity to do it.

0:24:38.0 Junior: I appreciate you diving into that. There are a couple of things that stand out to me as I listen to a few of those things. One of them is that it seems to me that when we're talking about cross-functional innovation, where two areas of thought or skill areas start to overlap, most of the strategy or innovation that takes place there is not going to be deliberate. It's going to be emergent. There's a reason that I think that that's important. What's the difference? Well, rare will be the case that you'll sit down two areas of the business that have nothing to do with each other and say, hey, just talk, come up with some ideas, do innovation. That doesn't happen. It's more likely that they brush shoulders, they bump into each other every once in a while. What that means is that the information you're relying on for the innovation is going to be an emergent process that comes from the bottom up, probably from someone who is not an expert. Their ability or level of comfort, the level of risk they perceive with raising their hand and saying, hey, this, here's this piece of information or here's this idea.

0:25:50.2 Junior: They have to be willing, right? They have to be willing. They have to be willing.

0:25:53.9 Tim: Yeah. Right? They have to be willing to look at the bottom anywhere.

0:25:58.5 Junior: If they're not, the organization will pay for it. One of the examples that springs to mind, I'm not sure how much accuracy there is to this, but so the story goes in, is it Frito-Lay that owns Cheetos? Flamin' Hot Cheetos, the story of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, the genesis, the origin story where there's, I can't remember a maintenance worker or a janitor that put some chili dust or something on some Cheetos that had fallen off the line at the factory. I might be botching this story, but there had been a big push in the organization from the top to come with ideas, shoot them up the ladder. You have an open door policy. There's an open phone line at any time. So this guy puts the chili dust on the Cheeto that had fallen off the line, starts snacking on it and thinks, hey, this is a novel idea. This is pretty good. Instead of the regular cheese. Exactly. And says, hey, I think I'm onto something. And here we have Flamin' Hot Cheetos. I don't know how much accuracy there is to that story, but it goes to show if the willingness weren't there, if the environment weren't such that that person felt comfortable passing along that information, you wouldn't have the probably decabillion dollar brand over time.

0:27:21.9 Junior: So it's very fascinating to me that this doesn't happen formally. It happens informally at the fringes of the organization, at the intersection of disciplines where expertise really doesn't matter. As you say, there is no expert at the intersection. And so that's something that we really need to consider. Okay. We've spent a half hour on the setup of the first piece of today's conversation.

0:27:48.1 Tim: It's because it's good stuff.

0:27:49.7 Junior: It is. It's very important. And organizations want everything we're talking about. They want the innovation. They want that innovation process. And upstream from that is inclusion, unlocking the diversity that's inherent in our organizations. Okay. So that's the competitive force. There's a moral force. And this one is fascinating to me. Many organizations today are going to great lengths to become more diverse. And some are doing that with the understanding that inclusion is part of this equation. Some are not. Some organizations think that diversity is a proxy for the morality of the organization. That as we become more diverse, we're becoming a more moral organization. We're becoming a more inclusive organization. You're not. Those are two very different things. You're part of it, but you're not there until you're behaviorally inclusive too as an institution and as individuals. And that's certainly the harder of the two battles. It is. So diversity is not useful in isolation. So striving to become more diverse with no plans to follow that up with any behavioral change on the inclusion front is a fool's errand. All else equal, sure, you might want more diversity, but it really can't be utilized without the inclusion.

0:29:15.4 Junior: And here's what I see happen, Tim, is that diversity that you've brought to the organization, it'll turn over and it'll exit the organization as soon as it sees that it's not truly welcome. It's not real. It's not real. And it doesn't take long to figure that out. And so some of these organizations that have posed diversity quotas, some with good intent, some not so much, they see the effects of this on a relatively short timeline that that talent will turn over. And so how do we fix all of this? How do we fix it? That's what we want to go into. So the traditional approach to diversity and inclusion initiative all hinges on awareness. And that's the fundamental issue that we want to dive into. So talk to us about campaigns for awareness and where they might fall short.

0:30:08.3 Junior: Actually, let me go back for a second because I just want to underscore what you said. We often see organizations that are having uncritical celebrations of diversity. And when I mean uncritical celebrations, they're celebrating diversity without inclusion. They have not achieved inclusion. And so if you look at the prevailing norm of the organization, what do they do? The employees self-segregate based on natural lines of affinity. That's a dead giveaway that they're not there. And so what happens over time is that employees become cynical and jaded because the environment is not truly deeply inclusive. People are connecting based on a term that we call homophily. That's not a term that we use in normal conversation every day. That's a term that was first coined by a couple of sociologists, Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton back in 1954. Homophily means that you love people that are like you. Homo means same. The root, the Latin root, homophily means love. And so that means you love people that are like you. You have affection for people that are like you. You connect with people that are like you. That's not too hard. People that agree with you or are similar to you, that's not very hard.

0:31:39.7 Junior: And so let's go back to what you said. So what the traditional approach to move from diversity to inclusion is we start with awareness, as you said, Junior. And oftentimes the organizations will launch large scale awareness campaigns. Awareness about what? Awareness about differences. So we want to move from awareness to understanding to appreciation of differences. That's fantastic. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, we need to do that. But if that's all you do, plan on waiting a long time. Because the operating assumption is that if you go through those steps, awareness, understanding, and appreciation of differences, that at some point, all of that will create a change of heart and then you will begin to behave differently. You will become more inclusive. What we have learned is that that doesn't work. It's not enough. That's a heroic assumption to believe that that awareness and understanding and appreciation of difference is going to lead to a change of heart, which then leads to a change in behavior. It's a sustainable change in behavior. What we have learned is that you have to jump into behavior at the same time that you are trying to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of differences.

0:33:04.8 Junior: What does that mean? That means that we jump into inclusive behaviors. We model inclusive behaviors. We practice inclusive behaviors. Why? Because ultimately, what we have found is that to become more inclusive, it is a journey of self-discovery. It has to be experiential. You have to generate your own confirming evidence that what you're doing works and it's the right thing to do. You generate your own evidence through your own inclusive behaviors. That's what has to happen. Institutionally, we can have a communications campaign and an awareness campaign. That's great. But on the ground, we have to behave, behave, behave with inclusive behaviors. Then what happens over time? This is what we've learned. Over time, as you are on that journey of self-discovery, as you are experiencing these things, as you practice inclusive behaviors, over time, you behave until you believe. The belief is the lag indicator. The behavior is the lead indicator and not the opposite way around. You've got to jump in to behaviors that are inclusive and you have to practice and sustain those and gradually, you will go through a transformation process. At the end of that process, you will come out having crossed a threshold of conviction that inclusive behaviors are the right thing to do, they work, and you become a more inclusive human being.

0:34:53.4 Junior: What happens in the process? You shed your prejudice. You shed your bias. You shed any discriminatory patterns that you may have, whether conscious or unconscious. How else are you going to surface those and let go of those? You have to go through the journey. That's a personal journey based on your own behavior, which then illuminates and enlightens you and you come to a much higher level of self-awareness. Unconscious biases become conscious and then you say, I got to let that go. What happens is there's this collision based on your elevated sense of self-awareness. There's a collision between what you're doing and then the awareness of what you really stand for and believe, or there's an evolution of what you stand for and believe and you say, I can't act that way anymore. In my heart, I don't believe that. I don't believe that. This is how social justice and equity come to be at an individual level. Let's recap, Junior. Awareness, understanding, and appreciation of differences, very important, not sufficient. Got to jump into behavior and then eventually cross that threshold of conviction. Then finally, we get to a place where we can sustain our behavior.

0:36:29.5 Tim: Why? Because, and this is the all-important thesis, the all-important thesis is that behaviors are anchored in beliefs. That's why we said at the outset that you can go behave for a while based on a compliance track, but then what happens? You're going to snap back. We need your behavior to be anchored in your belief. If you get to that point, now your behavior is sustainable. Is that not what we're after? I think so.

0:37:04.0 Junior: I think so too. Tim's explained really the answer to the question posed in the title of the podcast, why most diversity initiatives fail. It's because they're focused exclusively on awareness, appreciation, and understanding. How do you fix them? You introduce behavior. You introduce behavior as a parallel track to your awareness campaign. If you do that successfully, that's what's going to move the needle and move to sustainable change. One of the things that I really like to look at is what we call confirming evidence. It's part of the conversation we often have with organizations when they're trying this. Often individuals won't come to the conclusion that this is important until they see the evidence, which is why it's so important to have the behaviors done on the front end. As those behaviors are implemented, you'll generate more confirming evidence that what you're actually doing is working. On the ground, what that might look like is you weigh in last in a meeting. You give other people the floor. You don't bud in. You're more inclusive in the collaboration. You invite people to participate who normally haven't. Then you just sit back and watch. You'll probably find, as we found dozens of times with teams and organizations, that the outcomes of those meetings will improve.

0:38:27.3 Junior: The leader will be faced with all of that evidence. They'll see with their own two eyes, wow, that was a better meeting than the last two years of meetings. It must be that the changes we made improved the outcome. What were those changes? Well, we included people we normally didn't, and I stopped talking. I should invite people I don't normally invite and continue to listen. Then the heart will change as you're talking about. I really love that. Let's put some additional language to some of this. You talked about homophily. There's a companion word, which is heterophily. You described this, but I want to link it back. Homophily is love of the same. Heterophily is the love of different. Homophily we use another word. In layman's terms, we call it bonding. Bonding is the act of connecting with someone like you or in agreement with you. I like cars. You do too. I'm from Louisiana. So are you. We have things to talk about. There's overlap. It's easy. There's no strain because we're talking about the same thing. The interests align or whatever else might align. The demographics, the ethnicity, the psychographics, our history, the culture. When there's overlap, there's homophily and bonding.

0:39:47.7 Junior: That bonding is important. That's natural. That will always be there. It's the first thing that will likely happen, but it will never take an organization to deep inclusion. If you just rely on homophily, on bonding, you will get there. Alternatively, what do people do? They congregate. That's natural based on affinity and that over time becomes exclusive. So that's kind of the chain of events is people come into a room, they both like cars. So they're going to go stand over there. They're going to talk about cars. The other people who like lasagna are going to go stand over there and talk about Italian food and pretty soon you're in your groups. This creates cultural fault lines. Some people will come in, they'll see that everyone has their groups. Maybe they don't have affinity with anyone there and they're moved to the margins. That is almost the inevitable end of most organizations without some intention on the part of the organization. That's why we say culture by design. Culture by default is exactly this. It's just bonding. It's just homophily and it's just exclusion at the end of the day. So we need to bring some intentionality to the bridging, which is the companion word to bonding.

0:41:04.2 Junior: So Tim, tell us a little bit about bridging. Bridging means that you're connecting with people that are not like you, that you don't maybe agree with or that you are not similar to. As you said, Junior, bonding is natural. It's much easier. Bridging is not. Bonding is a little tougher. Why? Because there's increased interpersonal risk of some kind of harm or embarrassment. You're going to reach out to someone that's not like me, there's some anxiety, there's uncertainty, what's going to happen? There's more risk of, as I said, that interpersonal harm or embarrassment. So I don't know if I want to do that.

0:41:48.6 Junior: Not only that, it takes skill. It takes skill. But often we don't know what the skill is. How do I approach someone that is demographically or psychographically or culturally not like me? I don't know. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with senior leaders where they want to create more inclusion. They do know that there are underrepresented populations or other groups in the organization that seem to be pushed to the margins, seem to be in the shadows. They want to bring them in. They don't know how. One of the things that we've seen very clearly is that bridging behavior requires some skill. What often happens, Junior, is that well-intentioned people, employees, they will often say, well, I want to bridge. I want to do that. I want to create deeper inclusion in this organization. They will make an awkward attempt to bridge with someone that's not like them. Then what happens is that attempt turns out to be a brief and transactional encounter. It doesn't go that well. What happens is both parties come away from that brief and transactional encounter still feeling unconnected, but not only still feeling unconnected, but having their vulnerability punished a little bit.

0:43:27.0 Tim: You feel a little punished. I feel a little punished coming away from that brief and transactional encounter. Then the next time you think, oh, that didn't go so well. What do I do? I think maybe I won't try that anymore. You can see that bridging is formidable to many people. It's intimidating, but yet we have to do it. As you said, Junior, bonding alone will not create a deep and abiding inclusive environment. We're going to need bridging to add to the bonding. There's no two ways about it.

0:44:06.0 Junior: I want to make a couple of points about bridging. A few things that I've learned, just as some tips, I've tried a lot of things that have not worked well and I can tell you what those are and maybe some things that have worked. In the bonding example, I like cars, you like cars, it's easy. In the bridging example, I know nothing about cars, but I know you like cars. I might reach out and start a conversation. It's just a simple example. What I found, there are a couple of failure patterns for me personally. If I don't like cars and I don't know much about cars and then I pretend to and attempt to connect with you about something that you love and know a lot about, it's not going to go well. It's not going to go well. Why not? It's not going to go well because I'm inserting myself almost as someone who knows, as an authority. I'm going to talk to you about this thing that you know a whole lot about and I'm, wow, I really like that transmission. They're like, you have no earthly idea what you're talking about. Alternatively, what I found to work really well is to approach bridging with two things, humility and curiosity.

0:45:13.3 Junior: Instead of, wow, such a cool car. It's like, hey, could you teach me just a little bit about this thing? Hey, I saw that you're really interested in this. Tell me why. What do you love about this thing? Help me understand. Could you help me understand? Those types of openings really, really help. That's just something I've seen at a personal level that I would encourage everyone to try is don't try and assume this position of knowledge and understanding or authority. Just approach it with humility and curiosity. Try to learn. Try to learn why the other person might feel the way they do about whatever it is you're talking about. Tell me about Louisiana. What do you love about it so much? If I were to go, where should I go first? What's different about it than any place you've ever been? Why are the people there the way that they are? What do you take out of Louisiana that you never give back? Those are the types of questions that if you lead with those, it's very rare that your vulnerability will be punished. Because think about something that you love. Anyone listening to this, what do you love?

0:46:26.1 Junior: If someone approaches you about that thing with genuine interest, curiosity, and humility, how are you going to respond? You're going to be excited that they asked and you're going to open up and you're going to tell them why you love it so much. I've seen this work on both sides. The person trying to bridge and the person who's responding to someone who's reached out about something. I just wanted to point that out. We're going to be talking more about this in an article that's coming out, but that's just a suggestion from me.

0:46:57.1 Junior: May I offer a couple of examples from my own experience? I'm going to go back a few years and I'll give you two examples that are very, very similar. For graduate school, I studied in the UK at Oxford University and then I also studied in Korea at Seoul National University. I had a very interesting experience in each place. The first week at Oxford, we sat down to what we call high table, a big dinner with all of the students. Just think about Harry Potter and Hogwarts and you'll get the picture. I'm sitting down and I reach over the table to shake the hand of fellow student. I reach over my hand and he just pulls away from me. He pulls away from me and looks at me and says, do I know you? I'll never forget that because I was snubbed. I was rebuffed. I was rejected. It didn't feel good. I was just trying to be nice and just introduce myself. I'll never forget that. That was the first week. Now, of course, most people didn't act like that. They were absolutely warm and incredible, but I'll never forget that because I was trying to bridge and I was rejected in the bridge.

0:48:25.3 Junior: Now, let me give you another example that's similar. Then I went the next year to Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea. I'll never forget the first day, a group, it was probably three students, took me to the cafeteria. They took me to the cafeteria. They said, hey, would you like to come with us? We're going to have lunch. I said, yeah, fantastic. I mean, I didn't know anybody. I was new. It was intimidating. It was different. We go to the cafeteria and we meet some of their other friends. Now there's this big group and we're sitting at this table in the cafeteria and we're having lunch. I still remember it was a dumpling soup and we started to eat and this fellow student reached across the room with a bowl of kimchi and she gave it to me. I'll never forget that gesture because she was bridging to me. I'll never forget smiling and feeling, oh, I think I'm going to be okay here. I smiled. I took some and the social and cultural integration began. Very simple things, but there has to be a willingness and sometimes it's not going to go well, but we have to keep trying.

0:49:56.7 Tim: But these very small gestures represent bridging and I can't tell you how powerful sometimes those very small acts of inclusion, acts of bridging behavior can be. So there's a contrast. I just wanted to share those two examples because those have stayed with me. Those are vivid memories that I will keep forever and it just illustrates the vital importance of bridging in addition to the bonding.

0:50:28.7 Junior: Thanks for sharing those stories. It speaks to the nature of those behaviors and the nature of those encounters. The fact that you still remember those is enthralling to me. That all those years later, you remember those encounters that took three seconds, right? It took just a second for her to reach over and hand you the bowl. Literally. Yeah. And that stuck with you for decades. And so you think of the opportunities that each of us has to do those types of things and sometimes we make mistakes by omission. We have the opportunity to pass the bowl of kimchi and we don't. When we should. And it's a very easy thing to do and yet it's a very easy thing to overlook. But if you do that, someone might remember you for it decades later. So those behaviors, bridging, bonding, the bridging that needs to happen is done on two levels and that's what we want to end with today is the difference between the personal level and the institutional level. We each have bias and exclusive behavior at a personal level and organizations due to the entities themselves as a collective, they develop norms based on the humans that are inside of them and that lead them.

0:51:44.1 Junior: And we need to attack at both fronts, the personal level and the institutional level. Bias at a personal level is the result of acquired socialization as we say. Bias at an institutional level is the result of acquired socialization of the individuals. And then those individuals that comprise the organization translate that socialization into the policies, procedures, the structures, the systems. And so what does that mean? It means that we need an institutional effort to remove all of that. That we are committed to changing the policies and the procedures and all those things that we just built that were a product of some of our bias and remove those. And so Tim in the article is an article that I pulled up from a while back that in order to create an inclusive institution, you need to have inclusive policies. And at a personal level, you need to have inclusive behavioral norms. So those are the two things that we're looking at, policies at the level of the institution and norms at the level of the human. If you have just one and not the other in either case, you're not going to be able to get there because those policies need to be rooted out if they're not what they should be.

0:53:01.9 Junior: And the policies won't change the behavior of the people if they're not where they should be. Both need to be true. And so at a personal level, really like the personal approach of inclusive behavioral norms because it's something that each of us can do something about. It's something that requires reflection. It requires a high degree of awareness. And we need to look at our own behavior and see if there are any exclusive tendencies that are lurking around in there. We need to look at how well we're doing bridging. Is that something that we're doing frequently or do we just keep to ourselves in a place that feels comfortable? And that's often where we find ourselves is with the affinity groups that we naturally bond with. And we don't stray too far from there. We need to understand if you're going to have not only an effective organization, but a rich life. I mean, you keep kimchi in your fridge to this day, don't you? I do.

0:53:57.9 Tim: So there's a big bottle right now.

0:54:00.5 Junior: There you go. Your life is better because of it. And so those are the things that I believe enrich your life as learning from other people. And all of those things roll up into the type of institutions that we want. And it translates into the innovation that we want, we're harnessing the power of all of the diversity that lies at our feet. And we're putting that into the organization. We're mixing it with inclusion. And we get everything that we need to generate the competitive advantage we're so looking for. And in the process, we create very moral organizations too.

0:54:36.2 Tim: We create a sanctuary of inclusion, Junior. Yeah. And that's what we're after. Yeah. Well said.

0:54:42.4 Junior: We've been to different places in today's conversation. I've really enjoyed it.

0:54:46.7 Tim: I didn't know where this was going to go, but I think it was a fruitful conversation.

0:54:51.0 Junior: Yeah. I certainly learned a lot. Every podcast, there are a few standout points for me at a personal level. And I love taking these discussions and going and trying to just become a little bit better. It's just at the margins incrementally and over a long enough timeline. I think each of us can become pretty competent, pretty powerful leaders. So we talked about what diversity is, its difference, why do we want it? Because it helps us competitively and we want moral organizations. The big problem is that many organizations don't look at inclusion as one of the necessary ingredients to add to the diversity, to bring it to life. You can't unleash its power unless you unlock it through inclusion. So inclusion is a huge piece of this. And then at the level of the initiative, what we can't do is just do awareness. We need to have a behavioral component in there as a parallel path that starts at the same time. And we need to come at it from both ends. Awareness is important. There's nothing that will replace awareness. That's important. But we need the behavioral change to come to. So there's an article that we're going to be publishing with four steps to bridge effectively.

0:56:07.9 Junior: It's very, very practical. That's going to be featured in our newsletter. So if you haven't subscribed to our newsletter yet, there will be a link to do that in the show notes. We come out with that newsletter once a week. They are value packed. We ask usually nothing from you and just give the content that we have found to be valuable. And so please subscribe to that if you haven't already. If you like today's podcast, please leave us a like, leave us a comment, share it, subscribe if you haven't. Tim, any final thoughts before we wrap up today?

0:56:40.2 Tim: Yes, one big important final thought. Pass the bowl of kimchi. There you go. Move beyond your natural bonding behavior to bridging behavior. Make the attempt, make the effort. It may not be perfect, but pass the bowl of kimchi. Make something happen. We'll put it on a shirt.

0:57:02.3 Junior: Tim, thank you for your time today. Listeners, thank you for your listenership. We appreciate you spending time with us today and we'll see you in the next episode. Bye bye.

0:57:20.0 Producer: Hey, Culture by Design listeners, you made it to the end of today's episode. Thank you again for listening and for making culture something that you do by design and not by default. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please be so kind to leave us a review. It helps us reach a wider audience and accomplish our mission of influencing the world for good at scale. Today's episode show notes and other relevant resources related to today's topic can be found at forward slash resources.

0:57:50.5 Producer: And with that, we'll see you next episode.

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Episode Transcript

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