For the next few weeks, I am going to write blog articles focused on diversity and inclusion. Why? Because I am passionate about this movement and the positive impact it can have on our workplaces, communities, performance and potential. And because I am speaking at the Diversity & Inclusion Summit in Greenville, SC on October 8, 2019. My morning breakout session is titled, “Putting Your D&I Voice Into Action.” This blog series will help me “walk the talk” as I’ll be using my voice through this blog platform to share my thoughts and ideas on this valuable and important topic.
Have you watched the new film from Amazon Prime called Late Night? In addition to being a fun comedy and a story of struggle and transformation, it offers great insights into the power of workforce diversity to positively improve organizational performance, workplace culture, and employee engagement. I highly recommend that you watch this movie. Here’s the movie trailer to peak your interest:
My Synopsis of the Film
Starring Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, and a host of other fine actors, the plot revolves around a late night show host (one of the few females) whose ratings have been slipping. She learns that she is going to be replaced by a younger, male comedian and she’s freaking out. She didn’t recognize (or perhaps care) that she had created a hostile, toxic work environment where her people feared her and were afraid to challenge her (she likes to fire people). Her writing staff is made up of entirely white males.
When she learns that her reign on the show is under threat, she reluctantly agrees to add a woman writer to her team. Enter Mindy Kaling as the character Molly Patel, whose dream it is to write comedy. As Molly put it she is a “vibrant splash of color on the gray canvas of our writing staff.”
Molly is mocked by her peers as the “diversity hire” and someone who is unqualified for the job. Yet she persists. She begins to challenge the status quo and contribute to the solution by bringing her unique personality, unrelenting passion, good questions, a fresh perspective and some great new jokes and content for the show. By the end of the film (“one year later”) you see the transformation Molly’s presence has helped to create. The Late Night organization now has a vibrant workplace culture with a very diverse composition of talent, thought and ideas to drive the business forward. Employees and leadership are enjoying their work and who they work with.
We also see an impact on the leadership. In this case, a reinvented, reinvigorated, and reconnected leader in Emma Thompson’s character. She gets to keep her job and takes her Late Night show to a whole new level of performance excellence. Improved business results follow and everyone is smiling!
Of course this is only a movie, not real life.
But it is a possibility and something worth striving for. Adding diversity to your workforce can reap real, immediate and long term rewards including financial, cultural, social and intangible rewards. You will face barriers and resistance, especially in the current climate of “fear of others.” But with the right leadership, motivation, and spirit of inclusion, you can leverage the power of diversity within your organization.
How to start? How about organizing a lunch and learn discussion around the film, Late Night? Invite a mix of people so you get a diversity of thoughts and reactions. Get the conversation going. Listen, share, shift.
Let me leave you with one final empowering thought from my friend and colleague, Nika White:
“No matter what your role – executive, manager, business owner, or someone interested in seeing our world improve – you have the power to drive change.”
~Dr. Nika White, Diversity and Inclusion Authority, and author of The Intentional Inclusionist