Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Difference between Diversity & Inclusion


Many people seem to think diversity and inclusion (D&I) are the same thing.  There is actually quite a huge distinction.  And, to have one without the other is to invite chaos and/or have a flawed strategy.


Diversity is a noun.  It is the mix of different types of people.  There are TWO types of diversity: 1) Visible Diversity; 2) Thought Diversity.

Visible Diversity.  This is the “traditional” diversity of having a physical representation of various minority groups (e.g. gender, age, disabled, ethnic/racial).  This is very important to some.  For example, one of my clients is a General Counsel and she said she was invited to interview for a position at a well-known oil company, but when she walked into the room and saw a conference table full of white males only, she chose to walk back out.  She joined a competitor, which had more diverse representation.


  • Tokens. Visibly diverse talent is set up to fail, if organizations hire those who do not have the qualifications for the position.  Morale is ridden with resentment by the employee and his/her colleagues.
  • “People of Color.” To literally say this phrase is to invite dichotomous, Black & White mindsets. It creates the polarization of Whites and “the others.” (de Beauvoir and Hegel beautifully made this point in their writings).  Avoid contributions to reducing the complexity of diversity to just pigmentation.
  • Oreos/Twinkies. These slang terms were created by the racial groups to signify that while there may be a racial difference, the ethnic difference is what dominates.  For example, a Korean infant girl was adopted by Danish parents.  She completed her education in Denmark, speaks only Danish and English (no Korean), and has only Danish relatives as a part of her life.  She is racially diverse, but ethnically the same.  This is why many within the African-American community felt that President Barack Obama is “not really Black.” Obama was raised by a single white mom and her white parents; and he spent much of his childhood outside of the USA.

Thought Diversity.  This is the richness from which corporations, government, and academic institutions can reap.  Numerous studies have been conducted to prove that thought diversity is the key to a robust strategy.  For example, Procter & Gamble found that problems are far more likely to be solved with a cross-functional mix of a physical chemist, a molecular biologist, and a biophysicist than by using only chemists.  And, Bletchley Park (WWII code-breaking group) was hardly a rainbow gathering, though they were cognitively diverse.

Peter Drucker: Effective work is actually done in and by teams of people of diverse knowledge and skills.

This idea isn’t new.  Plato said it 2K years ago.

Consultants can add value just by being different, by possessing a different set of core tools than people at the company.  Consultants challenge the status quo.  They are trained dissenters.  According to Scott Page, a statistician who conducted a quantitative study on diversity, “[Consultants] force us to abandon our existing predictive models.”


Inclusion is more of a verb.  By practicing Inclusion as a leader, you invite voices that can share a perspective not yet considered.  Corporations which hire visibly diverse talent, but keep them working small projects and/or out of strategy meetings are simply out to appease the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  This talent will, in effect, yield little to no returns because the lack of inclusion has communicated to them that they are not taken seriously and they will most probably leave or practice show up to work but have low productivity.

Corporations which hire cognitively diverse talent without inclusion will suffer the same outcomes of attrition and lack of engagement.  Groupthink is the usual consequence for those who stay, since most employees want stability and work hard to assimilate into their work environments. (See blog  Corporate Primatology).

Inclusive organizations yield exponential results. (See blog Women in Corporate Leadership).

In summary, companies have folded because of too much homogeneity and lack of cognitive diversity.  If an organization’s Senior Leadership is so weak that it requires strokes of egotistical self-validation to hear and see more of themselves through their recruitment and promotion processes, then those organizations will surely fail.  There is simply no need to sacrifice ability for diversity; rather, to balance the two is to generate a more powerful impact in the marketplace.

“May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.”  – Mr. Spock, Vulcan, Star Trek


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is Vice Chair of Middle Tennessee’s Society for Human Resource Management Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic business partners.

Visit us at

©Rossina Gil, 2014


Savage Curtain episode,

Scott Page. The Difference. Pg 344.


Case Study: NYC Restaurant    


This case study is based on a New York City (NYC) restaurant owner who posted her dilemma on Craigslist, and now a couple of online newspapers have picked it up, so it is also circulating on Facebook.  Despite the patrons equaling the same number as 10 years earlier, online reviews shared that this particular restaurant (as well as others in the immediate vicinity) has slow service and the wait time to be seated is somewhat long.

The restaurant’s owner response was to 1) add staff, 2) reduce menu items; 3) hire a firm to investigate the difference in Customer Satisfaction from 10 years prior.  The firm examined surveillance video tapes of 45+ transactions and collected the following data.

July 2004 July 2014
3 out of 45 patrons request to sit elsewhere. 18 out of 45 patrons request to sit elsewhere.
Patrons avg 8 mins to order. Phones come out before patrons open menu. Patrons begin to take photos, work phone, etc.
2 out of 45 patrons send items back 7 out of 45 patrons spend an avg of 5 mins asking the servers to help them connect to Wi-Fi.
Patrons finish, get check, and leaveServer checks twice to see if patrons are ready to order, but patrons are still working the phone and request more time.
AVG time from start to end: 1 hour; 5 mins. Patrons avg 21 mins to order.
26 out of 45 patrons spend an avg of 3 mins snapping photos of the food.
14 out of 45 patrons spend an avg of 4 mins take photos of each other.
9 out of 45 patrons send the food back to reheat.
27 out of 45 patrons ask the server to take a group photo.  14 of these ask for a retake.
Patrons review the photo and chat for avg 5 mins.
Most patrons spend an avg of 20 mins in between end of meal and requesting check.
Patrons avg 15 mins longer to pay & leave.
8 out of 45 patrons bump into other patrons/server from texting while walking.
AVG time from start to end: 1 hour; 55 mins.

Upon viewing the data collection, the restaurant owner comes to this conclusion: “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?” (emphasis added)

This is a cross-cultural dilemma…both parties (i.e. restaurant owner & patrons) have different expectations based off of their previous experience.  They are both operating off of out-dated data.  The bottomline here is: consumer behavior has shifted.  To request consumers to be “more considerate” is futile.  It is not up to the consumer to shift their behavior, even though their behavior is working against them receiving the same level of service as before.  The owner expects this “new breed” of customer to revert back to a customer that is nearly extinct.  The owner needs to evolve and strategize to accommodate modern-day patrons, as though she has moved her business to another country.

Weisbord’s 6-Box Model

Here is what the restaurant can do to turn a table faster, raise their customer satisfaction back to 2004 levels, and get reviews that will signal to others to offer their patronage: ask itself questions in six different areas as to how to strategically address this emergent consumer.

Purpose.  What business are we in?  Employee involvement and clear communication about the direction/mission must be provided.

E.g. We are in the business of serving hot, delicious food in an efficient manner for a pleasing customer experience, according to their expectations.

Anything outside of this faux mission statement would not work.

  • Servers wear buttons that they may not take group photos.

Structure.  Form follows function.  What is the process flow?

  • Seat patrons in cell phone use and non-cell phone use areas (much like the old smoking and non-smoking designated areas).  Clearly state that the cell phone use area has an extended dining time experience.

Relationships.  How is performance managed?

  • A sample appetizer could be served upon submitting an order.

Helpful Mechanisms.  How can we streamline processes?  Automate systems?

  • Orders are taken before being seated with technology that goes straight to the kitchen.
  • Use the Square to have patrons pay the bill at the table electronically.  This saves the server return visits for payment.

Rewards. How do we balance rewards and consequences?

  • Square software can also automatically attach a Survey Monkey link for a How-Did-We-Do survey, which would gift patrons with a free dessert upon their next visit.
  • Metrics performed can be of data collection on Social Media sites, such as Yelp.  This means that this particular restaurant’s star ratings shall go up, and its new strategy deployment of its own behavioral change to meet marketplace demands shall increase its competitive advantage against other restaurants.

In summary, the advent of technology has changed the way we interact with each other.  We cannot turn back the clock.  To remain competitive, businesses must leverage their competitive advantage in tandem with technology.  Manage the change effectively, and you have Change Management.

Bon Appétit!


Rossina Gil, Karel Kreshek, and Gordon Brooks are Leadership and Organization Development Practitioners with a boutique consultancy of OD experts, Corporate Looking Glass.  Visit us at

© Rossina Gil, 2014


Added May 2015:

New York’s La Guardia airport has added a few hundred such monitors as I recommended in this blog.  It allows you to order the food, read about the ingredients, call for wait staff assistance, and check on your flight.  Here is a picture I took:



Black’s Law Dictionary defines a whistleblower as: “[a]n employee who reports employer wrongdoing to a governmental or law enforcement agency.” $104 million was granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, which is the largest whistleblower award given to date. He provided information to the IRS on how the Swiss bank helped Americans avoid taxes.

Organizational Implications
Wise organizations reduce the risk of whistleblower lawsuits by creating A) a system where employees can safely report misconduct, and, B) an ethical organizational culture which protects the employees from retaliation. Productivity is enhanced when employees are assured they will be heard for stepping forward with unpleasant news.

For example, in many states Sexual Harassment training is not mandatory. Yet, in California it is strictly enforced. So what would an effective organization do with a supervisor in a state where sexual harassment training isn’t taught who has a direct report in California? One does not need to consult Rocket Scientists to determine that business-savvy companies would cover their bases and elect to ensure that all management is prepared for statewide differences.

Types of Retaliation
Labor Code 1102.5 dictates that an employer may not retaliate against an employee for whistleblowing. However, laws are created for a reason. Here are the types of retaliation experienced by employees who reported misconduct at work:

Ignored/Treated differently by supervisor 69%
Ignored/Treated differently by other employees 59%
Excluded from decisions and work activity 54%
Verbally abused by supervisor or other manager 49%
Not given promotions or raises 47%
Verbally abused by other workers 43%
Almost lost job 38%
Cut in hours or pay 29%
Relocated or reassigned 28%
Demoted 21%
Harassed at home 18%
Experienced physical harm to person or property 16%
Experienced online harassment 15%

 Create a comprehensive internal reporting system to suss out “dirty laundry” internally to fix it before it goes externally.
 Consider the organizational gains of safe feedback reaching the C-Suite, as opposed to middle management seeking to discredit employees.
 Provide annual training on your organization’s ethics policy, regardless of state law making it mandatory or not.
 Consider one helpline being external consultants who can help employees handle the situation(s) effectively before the situation escalates.
 Institute as part of on-boarding what your in-house Human Resource lawyers will and will not do for employees.
 Remember that if you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.

Baby, let that whistle blow.” – Flo Rida


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass – a boutique consultancy of OD experts and three in-house HR lawyers. Visit us at

©Rossina Gil, 2014

Black’s Law Dictionary
National Business Ethics Survey, Ethics Resource Center, 2013