Diversity Is Inefficient

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

This is a sterling piece by Ashindi Maxton, a fellow at the New Organizing Institute. Some key learnings:

  • we are the strategy
  • a good process beats good goals with a bad process
  • in the short run, diversity and inclusion can feel inefficient
  • make time for difficult conversations about difference and do not over-personalise them
  • make space for ideas that may not resonate for you at first
  • hone your awareness of in-group preference, particularly if you are in a position of power
  • educate yourself
  • use a simple inclusion metric
  • intentionally build a critical mass of diverse voices
  • create virtuous cycles by activating networks of people from diverse communities

Diversity is inefficient.

At least, it is inefficient in the short run. In the long run, to repeat myself, we are not going to win anything anymore if we can’t build racially inclusive coalitions and organizations. That said, here are just a couple ways that diversity takes time and energy:

  1. The people who are already in our network tend to have a lot in common with us. Diversity requires us to go further out of our own networks to find new partners for our work or new hires for our organization and that takes time. It definitely takes more time than hiring and working with people we already know.
  2. Once we have identified a diverse set of folks to work with, it takes more time and energy to work with them than it does to work with people who are more like us. We are likely to have different communication styles, knowledge bases and points of reference. These points of difference are actually an incredible strength, but in day to day practice they dramatically multiply the potential for miscommunication and misunderstandings. Truth.

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