Most people, especially leaders, advocate that diversity improves creativity, in reality leaders are more inclined to their sub-ordinates who are more like them.
This is mainly because they see a less experienced version of them and start believing in their potential and want to nurture it.
Telling our protégés that diversity matters won’t change a thing. We must show it in action by deliberately mentoring people who are not like us. This will lead to a homogeneous work culture as we start doing only things that we are comfortable with.
Despite our best intentions we also overlook specific developmental needs on our teams as it might be difficult from the people of the minority demographic ad social groups to speak up and voice their concerns.
People might feel uncomfortable raising their hand if they arent' sure that their leader will identify them and it is the duty of the leader to close that gap.
The author of an article in hbr.org recollects how he was able to help an army captain to overcome his feel of being overlooked.
'Through many relaxed, exploratory conversations, I helped him examine his own thinking and behavior, assess the organization’s culture, and identify which jobs he could volunteer for to build the credibility and confidence he needed to succeed in that culture,' the author says.
He says that at first the captain held fast to his negative assumptions about how a leader saw him, but after volunteering for some tough assignments he confronted his own unconscious biases.
'This captain went on to receive multiple prestigious assignments and continued to excel not just because of his expanded skill set, but also because several leaders in his organization were investing in him and advocating for him. They might have missed out on his talents and contributions if they hadn’t made a focused effort to mentor a promising high potential who didn’t fit the dominant social profile,' he states.
Mentoring across social and demographic lines is good for the mentor as well. It helps the leader in spotting potential outside the usual mould.