(Story by Henry Albrecht originally appeared on LinkedIn)
These days the Oscars bring us much more than red carpet fashionistas and the latest Hollywood hits. Cultural events like the Oscars have become a platform to provide a snapshot into the cultural and societal issues of the time.
So it’s no surprise topics like immigration, #MeToo and inclusion graced the stage of the Dolby Theater last week. (#MeToo and workplace sexual abuse is a topic we’ll take on in the future.) In fact, Merriam-Webster tweeted: ‘Inclusion’ is our top search on the night, followed by ‘cinematography,’ ‘in memoriam,’ ‘feminism,’ and ‘rider.’”
Go Frances Go!
Many applaud Frances McDormand not just as an iconic actor, but for her advocacy of the “inclusion rider” — a contractual clause that allows actors to demand diversity in the cast and crew of a film. Many believe if A-list actors fight for the formerly little-known clause, real change may happen in Hollywood. And often the best change starts when new rules emerge.
And I hope it does. But, frankly, rules alone are not enough.
The “inclusion rider” is no different than a diversity quota in today’s corporate workplaces. Yes — you need diversity — to be innovative and for a dozen other reasons. It’s even been proven that companies with greater diversity are more innovative and smarter. Did you know that inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative than non-inclusive ones? And innovation matters for every company — but perhaps nowhere as much as in the movies.
But if all you do is mandate a diverse set of people, you’re only part-way there. The key to inclusion is making sure everyone feels included. And this is usually where it breaks down. We need a true commitment — every day and at every level — to change the culture to one that feels inclusive.
It’s not PC police — it’s a commitment not just to fairness and improvement, but also to transparency and dialog. If you bring on a diverse acting and production crew but you don’t address other elements of the culture — don’t make a real commitment — then people may even feel more frustrated, cynical and even resentful about your inclusion efforts.
Let’s illustrate this with story from my not-to-be-named buddy: A large tech company recognized the diversity imbalance in its higher ranks and tried to hire more women into senior roles. The recruiting team jumped into action and within a few months successfully filled the roles with talented senior women. But not long after, many of these women left. Why? Because they weren’t included in an “old boys club” that didn’t authentically welcome women.
If you want to create an inclusive workforce, then you must take action. It’s much more than hiring a diverse team or hosting a diversity or unconscious bias training. (Both good starting points.) It’s all about creating a culture that embraces diverse people, ideas, experiences and authentically values them.
Inclusion is more about the day-to-day interactions employees have with each other — with managers, teams & peers, on social networks and from leaders. Limeade recently launched Inclusion+ technology that measures employee perceptions of inclusion and helps leaders, managers and employees take action to create a safe, inclusive and more innovative workplace.
We at Limeade applaud Frances McDormand for shining the spotlight on women and inclusion. It’s a topic that impacts every workplace across the U.S. whether that’s a Hollywood set, a hospital or the previously mentioned tech company.
Let’s applaud the “inclusion rider” but give our standing ovation for the companies and Hollywood studios that take real action to foster an inclusive workplace every day.
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About the author
Henry founded Limeade in 2006 and has led the company from an idea in his basement to a high-growth, industry-leading SaaS employee well-being company that serves some of the smartest companies in the world.