It’s 2017, a decade past the Great Recession, and our workplace discussions are dominated by generational concerns, change management, and profitability. Leadership has become a measured part of profitability, at least in some industries, and corporate America is being challenged to equalize the opportunities and compensation among all people – inclusion has replaced diversity.
Deloitte has taken inclusion one step further…or so it reports. Deloitte is phasing out affinity groups, replacing them with inclusion groups. Diversity programs have stalled and Deloitte is investing in inclusion groups to include white men in the discussions. After 24 years with a women’s affinity group (GLOBE), the replacement group will include white men to help develop allies and also create understanding of the issues and concerns women have in the company. Over the next 18 months, they will phase out the remainder of their affinity groups. Will this be a huge success? Or another attempt to educate the majority to complexities of the minority?
This reminds me of the Bechdel Test. A simple test of movies to measure three criteria: (1) has two women in it; (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Think about any recent movie you have watched, does it pass the test? Hollywood, arguably the most liberal and open-minded segment of America, still struggles with the same equality concerns with respect to the opportunity for women and men in lead roles. That’s not a big surprise when you watch a movie through the Bechdel Test eyes, and consider how often women dialogue about men.
I find myself curious. Curious how Deloitte inclusion groups will dialogue about the issues of women (or other minorities, depending on the group) with men present. Could this be the empowering shift that finally levels the playing field? If so, I suspect it will be more about the conversations women have with each other than the addition of white men (although the addition may shift the conversation). Wanna play along? Pay attention to your own conversations and those of the people you are surrounded with at work. Whether you are a man or a woman, how can you be part of the shift?