Myth of Meritocracy & Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet

Nicola Sturgeon quipped that when she created one of the world’s first gender balanced cabinets as First Minister, plenty of people noting this progressive and even feminist move, asked ‘But were the women as well-qualified?’ She remarked how frustrating it was that no one ever asked if the men she appointed were well-qualified. The assumption was that giving women equal representation was a ‘favour’ whereas the men unquestionably had a right to their seats. This gets to the heart of the myth of meritocracy, something we talk about at our events. Clients often say ‘We believe in ‘right person for right job’ – we’re very meritocratic!’ 

However, the numbers don’t lie. If you believe that women are as intelligent, hard-working and capable as men, a belief most ascribe to – and you still struggle to get to equitable   leadership then you don’t by definition have a meritocracy. You have a system of habits, traditions and biases – unconscious or otherwise. And that’s what will limit the innovation of your organisation  – not the quotas or targets you fear. Let’s be very clear, at InclusIQ we hate the idea of quotas or targets, but we love their results. Since we all know ‘what gets measured gets done’ they could be the key to driving action in your organisation. 

'This World Should End'

What’s going to be your small part in promoting inclusion in 2017? A Year in Review

Aftershocks abound after 2016 – and will continue for years to come. It certainly was a year of events significant, but challenging to inclusion. These events accentuate an unsettling truth – violence and discrimination is widespread, we are not as diverse and inclusive as we would like to give ourselves credit for being. It’s enough to make you agree with the progressive rapper Prince EA that This World Should End. A quick review…

2016 opened on a sour note following the mass assault on women in Cologne at New Year celebrations and continued with a downhill spiral of turbulence and division. The UK voted to Brexit largely based on issues of immigration which saw a post-vote rise in racially or religiously aggravated hate crime. We witnessed the baffling election of a US president known for racism, sexism and his comments about the physically disabled. Perhaps not surprisingly, similar to the post-Brexit atmosphere reported an increase in racist attacks within days of Trump’s Presidential election. Divisions based on difference held fast with Eastern Aleppo’s fall and too many devastating terrorist attacks to list.

Yes, 2016 was quite a year – frightening at worst, dispiriting at best there are still green shoots. We still have 2017 and beyond to be the change we’ve historically expected our politicians to deliver – but too often fail to make real. Prince EA reminds us that Robert Kennedy said ‘Few of us can make history, but each of us can work to change a series of small events which create history’.

So let’s share some of the high points of 2016 for inclusion. Airbnb was forced to address racism and discrimination issues and a consequence have made amendments to its platform and started the #airbnbwhileblack campaign asking people to report racism. Slack became the first company to release a diversity report which included LGBTQ. Netflix announced unlimited parental leave for parents, both men and women, in the first year following the birth or adoption of their child. ‘Project Include’ was launched by a ‘war room of diversity advocates’ such as former Reddit Interim CEO Ellen Pao, Tracy Chou, Software Engineer at Pinterest, and Erica Baker, Senior Engineer at Slack Technologies among others. ‘Project Include’ is described as an ‘open community working toward providing meaningful diversity and inclusion solutions for tech companies’.

For those of us who believe in the power of diversity and inclusion, the events of 2016 prove how much more we still have to do. As Jenny Yang, the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said, “Standing still is not an option. Expanding diversity and inclusion is critical to unlocking the full potential of tomorrow’s economy.” Globally, we clearly have some tough times ahead. But we can individually work to spearhead change. At InclusIQ, our small part will be on looking for partnerships to bring our innovative unconscious bias games-based workshops to an even larger audience than we did in 2016. The question remains – what’s going to be your small part in it?  


DNA tests at work bolster D&I insights and empathy

We’re always interested in new ways to approach inclusion so were intrigued to hear about the travel company Momondo Group’s decision to give its top management team free DNA tests, as an experiment in improving the company’s workplace culture. While we normally think of DNA tests as being useful in health assessments, but Momondo’s motivation was simply to create the self-reflection necessary for people to challenge their own assumptions and biases.  The pilot was so successful they have started offering it to all staff.

The premise is that we all have expectations about who we are as White European lawyers or Afro Caribbean British accountants, but our DNA usually highlights a much more mixed lineage than we anticipate. Seeing the truth about our own gene pool can be a shock, but seeing we are all more ‘mixed’ creates paradigm shifts and empathy with people we previously thought of as ‘different.’ We’ll be watching to see how Momondo’s experiment unfolds, but we love the innovation in this approach. You can see a short clip on how the project unfolded amongst the seemingly homogenous group of Momondo executives on the BBC here