Inclusive Leadership: The Right Way to Onboard a Diverse Hire

Even the most well-meaning leaders get this wrong.

Here’s the bottom line:

❌Stop talking about your new hire’s diversity.

✔Start talking about your new hire’s credentials.

Oftentimes inclusive leaders jump to announce that they have just hired a woman or a person of color, or someone with ability differences…however they are defining diversity in their organization.

I get it.

They want to let their organization know that they are trying to improve the situation.

Leaders are under a lot of pressure to make real improvements in diversity and inclusion (as they should be).

Here’s the problem with that approach.

When you focus on how the new hire supports diversity initiatives, you reinforce the bias that all of us underrepresented people face: That we were ONLY hired because of our diversity, not because of our credentials.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard: “We’re so glad you are here, we need more women at the table”.

My new colleagues are thinking to themselves, “Clearly, I’m more qualified than her. I know why she got this role”. ( I know they’re thinking this because some of them say it out loud)

I think to myself, “Really? So the Ph.D., MBA, 25 years of experience and $100MM+ in value creation I’ve delivered is NOT important….interesting.”

Inclusive leaders: Is this what you are going for?

I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

🎯You can help overcome this bias by being vocal about the skills, talents, and experiences that your new hire will add to the team.

You know, the way you talk about majority hires.

Don’t just take my word for it. I polled my LinkedIn followers and the responses were quite clear! Of those who responded, 96% prefer to hear about a new hire’s credentials rather than their diversity. 

🌟Underrepresented people have to overcome biases that they only got their job because they are diversity hires. Inclusive leaders intentionally try to help combat that issue by proactively discussing the diverse person’s qualifications, skills, and team fit.