Robin Ely, David Thomas, Morehouse College discussed on 10% Happier with Dan Harris


Having a set of criteria that are decided on ahead of time and then looking to see if that candidate meets those criteria is one way to formally decrease the influence of bias on decision making. Every organization is going to be different, but a larger question for any organization to really ask itself is why is this important? What is our fundamental motivation for trying to achieve an unbiased workplace or an inclusive workplace? And what do we hope it will achieve? So there's a classic study by business professors Robin Ely and David Thomas. David Thomas is now the president of morehouse college. But he was a Harvard Business school professor along with Robin Ely when this classic study was published. And what they were interested in was understanding why some organizations functioned well in the context of diversity and some organizations did not function well. And they found that there were three different motivations or expectations for what diversity would achieve in an organization, one set of motivations was really about justice and equality and the idea was these teams were interested in pursuing diversity because they thought that it would help the organization live up to its ideals. There was another set of motivations that was really about business opportunities that it was important to have a diverse set of employees because it would open up new business avenues. And then there was a third set of motivations, which were about the fundamental functioning of the organization. And in these teams, they felt that diversity was important because it was essential to the future of the company. It was essential to the functioning of the company to have all of these different perspectives and have them integrated well and included. And the first two examples, the first two kinds of motivations about pursuing justice and equality and opening business opportunities did not function that well, actually, it was the teams where the motivation was about the fundamental functioning of the company, teams where they believed that it was important to include everyone's ideas and make sure that everyone felt safe and that people had influence because those ideas were essential to the company that those perspectives were essential to the future of the company when the leaders at that organization felt that diverse perspectives were essential to the functioning of the organization and that this was a source of wealth. This was actually a source of essential resource for the organization, the organization functioned in a better way. People were able to have disagreements and move beyond them, resolve conflict, learn from one another, sort of, all of the benefits of diversity were able to be realized. And it really had to do with the fundamental motivation. So I think that's something that's really important for organizations to ask themselves. What are we really trying to do here? And do we believe that all of these perspectives are fundamentally important? I think that's what organizations really have to start in order to make these changes. It's a fascinating point. And what it brings to mind for me and you'll tell me if this is an appropriate association is an article in The New York Times Magazine I read several years ago by Charles duhigg about mad dash, a long, frustrating internal research project at Google where they were trying to figure out what was the common denominator among the teams that functioned the best. And for a long time they couldn't figure it out until they arrived on an answer, which was something called psychological safety, which is the feeling within a team that everybody was willing and able to speak up. And so I, for years, was terrible at creating psychological safety and still struggled to do it. And seeing that was such an eye opener for me and really put it on my radar as something I need to continually strive to do. So anyway, with that came to mind for me as you were talking, does that make sense? Not only does it make sense, but psychological safety is actually the link between diversity and performance. So people talk a lot about the benefits of diversity that organizations are more creative and have better problem solving. That's not actually true necessarily because all of the power dynamics that exist in the real world can just be recreated in a workplace. But research does show that if everyone feels psychologically safe, if everyone feels they can learn from one another, they feel safe enough to learn from one another, then diversity becomes this huge resource that allows for better performance. This has been such a fascinating conversation. I want to congratulate you. I know that your book I've said this a couple times of just marveling at how much time you invested in producing this book ten years of research 6 years of writing on the book. I think you mentioned at one point off mic to me that you spent four months doing fact checking alone. It's a monumental achievement. It's such an important subject. So congratulations on finishing it and putting it out into the world and thanks for coming on the show. Thanks so much, Dan. Thanks again to Jessica. The show is made by Samuel Johns, Gabrielle zuckerman, DJ Kashmir, adjusting Davy bike Emma Maria mortel and Jen with audio engineering from our good friends over at ultraviolet audio will see you all on Wednesday with the aforementioned Robert Wright. Who's going to talk about some of his own attempts to challenge his own biases and tribal instincts. That's coming up on Wednesday..

Coming up next