Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Linda Hill serves as a peer reviewer for ‘ACT Report’ aiming to transform DEI in tech

ACT Report - 'It was my privilege to be a peer reviewer of this important report. Now we all have a playbook to move the needle on DEI in tech.' -Linda Hill (image of report cover and photo of Linda Hill)

The ACT Report lays out 4 recommendations and 10 actions that tech companies and leaders can take to shift the DEI paradigm

CAMBRIDGE, MA (Nov. 5, 2021) – Harvard Business School Professor Linda Hill, a founding partner at Paradox Strategies, was among 7 peer reviewers for a just-released report calling for bold, collective action in the tech industry and elsewhere to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Produced by a coalition of 29 leading experts in academia and tech, Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT) challenges tech companies to open-source DEI best practices, collaborate on systemic solutions, and increase accountability to drive change. Over 30 CEOs and leaders have pledged to take action.

“It was my privilege to be a peer reviewer of this important report,” Dr. Hill said. “Now we all have a playbook to move the needle on DEI in tech.”

The report says CEOs must approach and resource DEI like any other business imperative. Companies won’t move the needle on DEI until they introduce systemic efforts, led by top leadership, that drive accountability for DEI throughout the company, it states.

“At Paradox Strategies we believe successful DEI efforts begin with an organizational diagnosis supported by top leadership,” said Managing Partner Taran Swan. “A comprehensive diagnostic can drive the development of an actionable DEI strategy that senior management is accountable to and that can be cascaded throughout the organization.”

Convened by the Aspen Institute, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), PwC, and Snap Inc., a cross-industry working group partnered for more than a year to aggregate relevant, research-based actions that businesses can take to help radically improve DEI outcomes.

The ACT Report compiles this research and provides a blueprint and tools for companies from startups to mature organizations to implement to drive internal and sector-wide change. The full report is available here.

A coalition press release said executives from organizations including Airbnb, Apple, Dropbox, Etsy, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Salesforce, Spotify, and Uber, have committed to being founding signatories of the ACT Report, pledging to hold themselves and their companies accountable to accelerate progress toward achieving DEI success. Together, these founding signatories represent more than 500,000 tech employees.

Paradox Strategies offers a full range of solutions to support DEI initiatives, and produced a report on DEI best practices earlier this year.

Related: See our 3-part series on building diversity

Paradox Strategies is again named a Top 10 diversity and inclusion company

2021-dei-award-800px

For the second consecutive year, Manage HR has named Paradox Strategies to its Top 10 Diversity and Inclusion Companies for its innovative DEI solutions to help customers overcome challenges in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The featured companies are frontrunners in the market owing to their comprehensive features and extensive technology innovation,” the magazine’s website states. Award recipients are nominated by Manage HR subscribers.

Paradox Strategies is featured in an article in the magazine’s recent diversity and inclusion edition that recognizes both emerging and top 10 diversity and inclusion companies. The article is about how we work at the intersection of innovation and inclusion to show how effective leaders deliver growth and performance by embracing an organization’s collective talents.

In this interview with Manage HR Magazine, Founding Partner Dr. Linda Hill and 2 of our managing partners, Cheryl Whaley and Taran Swan, share insights into strategies for nurturing individual differences to unleash an organization’s full potential. (Access a PDF reprint of the full article here: Paradox Strategies: Leveraging Cutting-Edge Research to Drive Innovation.)

“There is no question that a diverse and inclusive work environment can help an organization attract top talent and drive innovation. But you can’t take for granted that this will happen naturally,” the three state in the article. “To realize the benefits of diversity and inclusion, organizations need to follow best practices. Paradox helps companies and other groups define these approaches in the context of their own particular circumstances.”

We also landed on the Manage HR Top 10 list last year. Here’s what’s changed since then:

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, companies are keen to become more agile and innovative: they have seen the need for flexible thinking and action. But they can’t do it without embracing diversity of thought within their ranks; this is what prepares them to cope, even to thrive, in environments like today’s, rife with uncertainty

Paradigms that don’t work + 5 upper-level career boosters

“There is a direct link between whether you get those stretch assignments and whether you have expertise.”

Building Diversity: Part 3 of 3 

Making meaningful advances in diversity, equity, and inclusion hinges on having an organizational culture that can support strategies to help managers from all walks of life become “stars” who can shine with all 5 of these executive-level qualities:

  1. Competence
  2. Credibility
  3. Confidence
  4. Relationships
  5. Resiliency

According to Dr. Linda Hill, founding partner at Paradox Strategies and head of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, years of research have made it clear that “what you know is based on what you get to do” and “what you get to do is based on who you know,” which determines your success much more than any other factor, including performance.

Underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and especially those in the upper ranks, are hurt by this pattern given they rarely look like or know those in power. Ultimately, they miss out on key stretch assignments or other career boosters and plateau or become deskilled.

How can we prevent those plateaus from happening? First, leaders need to make a fundamental shift in mindset as well as put a specific focus on the development all upper-level managers need to further perfect their readiness for the top ranks.

The mindset shift depends on how an organization’s leaders perceive DEI. An outdated, ineffective paradigm assumes diversity is achieved by assimilation:

  • “We’re all the same.”
  • Hire diverse staff, encourage uniform behavior

But a more realistic and effective paradigm, Dr. Hill says, is one of differentiation:

  • “We celebrate differences.”
  • Match diverse staff to “niche” opportunities and their unique abilities

Especially important are these 5 career boosters that help make upper-level managers ready for the top:

  1. Proactive in addressing potential soft skill deficiencies
  2. Mentoring gives way to effective sponsorship from senior level executives
  3. Maintenance and renewal of heterogeneous network (inside and outside)
  4. Excellent performance record
  5. Tempered radicals” – These are Individuals who are willing and able to be change agents when necessary to ensure that a company lives up to its values like being inclusive. When they see some behavior or policy that is inconsistent  with that value, they will step up and address the inconsistency even though to do so is risky in that it might cost them in terms of their relationships or career.

Listen in as Dr. Hill explains the “meritocracy myth” during a recent workshop session of Stars Are Made Not Born. (audio 01:32)

Building diversity, equity, and inclusion with Paradox Strategies

Contact us for details.

Dr. Hill is a founding partner at Paradox Strategies and a professor at Harvard Business School, where she chairs the Leadership Initiative. She advises organizations and Fortune 500 companies on how to take a strategic approach to nurturing individual differences to unleash an organization’s full potential

Dr. Linda Hill
Dr. Linda HIll

“If you’re in the minority, one of the things that happens to you is that you become deskilled. You didn’t get to work in those stretch assignments so, frankly, you don’t have the expertise.”

 

“And then when it comes time to decide who should get that promotion, there aren’t any people that look like you who actually do have the expertise, and you become ‘a token.’ “

6 mid-level career boosters minority managers typically miss out on

“When you become more credible, you get a right to have a stretch assignment. Your network grows. People are attracted to work with you and be with you.” 

Building Diversity: Part 2 of 3 

Most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor indicates that senior management in the U.S. remains overwhelmingly White. Specifically, the bureau reports that 88% of chief executives are White, 4% are Black or African American, 5% are Asian, and 11% are Hispanic or Latino.

Research shows that minorities are typically promoted to middle-upper ranks of leadership later than their majority peers, and many minority managers plateau if they don’t get the opportunities they need to prove themselves fit for the executive level (Source: Thomas and Gabarro).

According to Dr. Linda Hill, founding partner at Paradox Strategies and head of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, their years of research have revealed 6 career boosters managers need to experience that minorities and underrepresented groups typically miss out on. Each is critical for developing their fitness for upper-level roles:

  1. Opportunities to broaden beyond a narrow specialty
  2. Acquisition of new and more powerful sponsors and mentors
  3. Stellar performance in one or more high-visibility (strategic) assignments
  4. Deepening level of commitment to career and organization
  5. Effective integration of personal and professional identity
  6. More rapid upward mobility

Listen in as Dr. Hill talks about how managers become “stars” during a recent workshop session of Stars Are Made Not Born: The Meritocracy Myth.

Establishing the perception of credibility needed for bigger “stretch assignments” (audio 01:25)

The 3 characteristics of a “stretch assignment” (audio 01:18)

Building diversity, equity, and inclusion with Paradox Strategies

Contact us for details.

Dr. Hill is a founding partner at Paradox Strategies and a professor at Harvard Business School, where she chairs the Leadership Initiative. She advises organizations and Fortune 500 companies on how to take a strategic approach to nurturing individual differences to unleash an organization’s full potential.

Dr. Linda Hill
Dr. Linda HIll

“In an ideal world, when your network grows, if you’re the person who’s in the center of the network, you’re the person who can connect the two sides, the different worlds, different geographies, different products, different services.

 

“The people who have those roles, frankly, are the people who can contribute more to the organization over time, and they tend to develop unique expertise that really lets people understand that maybe they’re ready to move to the next stretch assignment.”

6 questions talent management must get right to build diversity at the executive level

“None of us are expert at this. It is not easy to work through it. And one of the things that I know is that the answers or the actions you should take really need to be bespoke to your organization.” 

Building Diversity: Part 1 of 3 

To achieve more diversity at the executive level, companies need to provide diversity of opportunity and development among their potential leaders.

Abundant data shows that companies building diversity outperform homogeneous ones. Companies that fail to achieve a diverse and inclusive organization ultimately stifle innovation and underperform.

Many organizations recognize they need to become more diverse and inclusive, yet most believe they have not been effective at increasing diverse representation, particularly at the executive level, which is typically 85% White.

Dr. Linda Hill, founding partner at Paradox Strategies and head of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, has spent much of her career researching innovation and helping companies unleash their potential. Building diversity, she says, starts with taking a strategic approach to nurturing individual differences.

Here are 6 questions Dr. Hill says leaders in talent management must get right if their organization wants to grow a more diverse field of “stars” fit for promotion:

  1. What are the key “fit” criteria?  Are they changing?  What evidence do you rely on to determine if someone “fits?”
  2. What mindsets/competencies/behaviors are required?  Are they changing?
  3. What evidence do you rely on to determine if someone has potential?
  4. What stretch assignments do people need?
  5. What developmental relationships do people need?
  6. What are you doing to develop the next generation of talent?  How robust is your pipeline?  How diverse is your pipeline?

At the core of minority advancement are transparent talent management systems to ensure that minority populations understand the criteria for advancement, Dr. Hill says.

Listen in as Dr. Hill talks about the challenges of building diversity, equity, and inclusion during a recent workshop session of Stars Are Made Not Born: The Meritocracy Myth.

Introduction: The positive effects and challenges of building diversity  (audio: 02:44)

Finding the perfect fit – a matter of YES and NO (audio: 01:25)

Building diversity, equity, and inclusion with Paradox Strategies

Contact us for details.

Dr. Hill is a founding partner at Paradox Strategies and a professor at Harvard Business School, where she chairs the Leadership Initiative. She advises organizations and Fortune 500 companies on how to take a strategic approach to nurturing individual differences to unleash an organization’s full potential.

Dr. Linda Hill
Dr. Linda HIll

“Now we all know that all are not fit to be leaders; all are not fit to be stars. I will never be a professional basketball player. Having said that, what we also know from lots of research is that more people have more potential than we realize.”