Download for free the eBook: Success in Managing Diversity
The most important lessons from Esther Mollema’s book Succes in Veelvoud (Success in Managing Diversity), a diversity DIY, summarized and translated for leaders who want to build High Performance Teams.
For over ten years, I studied, lived and worked abroad. When I came back to the Netherlands, it struck me that in a country where equality of all citizens is now considered a key asset, role and task stereotyping is still present. This could also be seen in organizations. Whenever I got assigned to the position of a leadership trainer by a Dutch company, I worked merely with men, mostly white and of the same age as well. Even at companies that were clearly internationally oriented. I began to wonder: ‘What happened to all the other talents?’
I decided to investigate this matter and started my research about women and leadership. It turned out to be a good choice because diversity in the broadest sense starts with fostering the promotion of women. This will be explained in detail in the first chapter of this book.
Step by step I gained more insight and developed an understanding of women and ambitions, the way men and women perceive these, and how careers are made. Together with my colleagues from Direction, I designed a training program for women to provide them with the insights that will help them realize their ambitions.
The female participants in these training introduced us to their organizations and we started to work with their managers as well. They requested our help on diversity challenges regarding age, cultural differences and personality. Every assignment and cooperation brought new experiences and insights. I noticed that knowledge about diversity within the organization was only allocated to a select group, and that had to change.
In 2009, I wrote a (Dutch) book about women, leadership, ambitions, organizations and excellent performance. The biggest drive behind the book was that if we’d really want to perform better, people at all levels within organizations should know more about diversity and why it is so difficult to manage. The book made it to the Dutch long-list of management books of the year, and became a bestseller.
After the first book was published, we already knew that a big part of the solution lies in the understanding of how the brain works and how it labels and judges other people. Not because the brain intends to discriminate, but in order for it to make the millions of decisions it has to make every day, it needs to generalize. I call these short-cuts the brain takes “mindbugs”, based on the example of Mahzarin Banaji, who introduced me to the concept. Mindbugs explain why a person might think that they are selecting the most qualified candidate, whereas actually they are not. The brain works in a different way. At Direction we have been developing our knowledge about the human brain through studying a lot of relevant scientific research and talking with neuroscientists. Also, we developed test tools and did our own research. By doing this, we discovered all the puzzle pieces forming the whole that explains how diversity can be promoted. Every day, we start a dialogue with managers, who want to build excellent performing teams, about how to effectively foster diversity. I talk a lot about this subject with a lot of people. The other day someone said to me: ‘Look, it’s Mrs. Mindbugs!’
Success in Managing Diversity
In this translated summary of my book ‘Succes in Veelvoud’ (Success in Managing Diversity). I’d like to share the key knowledge and insights we’ve gained over the last years. In addition, I’d like to present share a proven effective approach which will enable you to get real results when it comes to managing diversity. The summary contains several practical examples of approaches that work, and approaches that don’t work. With this summary, I would like to help those managers who do not want to wait for the next policy statements or diversity KPIs, but intrinsically want what’s best for their teams and organization. Those managers who want to handle things by themselves and who are ready to use tools to make progress when it comes to diversity. We are motivated to make these managers choose the most qualified people for their teams, and show how, together with their employees, they can become a high performance organization (HPO).
Diversity in teams, at higher and lower levels within the organization, is a key asset to HPO-teams. HPO-teams improve the entire organization. Better organizations form the basis of a better world. And that is why Mrs. Mindbugs wrote this book.