'Lending privilege' is the way to diversify the workplace, says technologist
- A former Accenture and Deloitte technologist says that workplaces can build a more inclusive environment on their own rather than waiting on a mandate from the C-Suite, Fortune reports.
- Anjuan Simmons, now an entrepreneur, said that everyday employees with power and privilege — traits they are likely to share with people like themselves — can adopt leadership behaviors that help them notice and lend their privilege to those without it. Simmons said diversity occurs when people demand it.
- During a presentation at GitHub Universe 2016, Simmons outlined three forms of privilege lending: Credibility lending, Access lending and Expertise lending. “The person with the privilege has to know they have it and notice when someone else doesn’t,” he said.
Simmons contends that diversity must flow from the bottom up in an organization. However, the question is: Are everyday privileged workers ready to recognize and lend their privilege to others without it? And will they do so voluntarily or do they need a directive from the CEO?
Some everyday employees with power might be ready to share their privilege with others, but some won’t unless there are consequences for not doing so, just as there are penalties for discriminatory behavior. Simply demanding diversity might not make it happen, either.
A truly inclusive work environment welcomes, retains, advances and otherwise extends the same opportunities to all employees throughout the organization, while banning the notion that one group of employees is more deserving of privilege than others. Employee resource groups help to further integrate those ideals into company culture.
If creating an inclusive workplace can't solely depend on everyday employees or CEO mandates, then HR can be the catalyst, starting with eliminating bias in recruitment. Hiring might include not only women and underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, but also disabled or special needs candidates. Establishing pipelines from which to attract talent is a wise strategy. HR can monitor employees' treatment under its diversity initiatives and intervene when the possibility of bias arises.