Fighting for Diversity in Your Workplace

This newsletter, Ruchika Tulshyan discusses her experience as an immigrant in American workplaces and steps we can take to advance diversity and inclusion.
 
I'm an immigrant to America so the interest in diversity – and even the realization of how important it is, came to me very late. I had been in America for about 4 years (visiting frequently before), but for much of my early immigrant years, I was excited by the prospect of American equality. The ideas that everyone was welcome here and hard work was all it took to succeed were concepts I subscribed to eagerly.
 
As time passed, it became clear to me that American workplaces were alienating, oppressing and traumatizing a number of people; notably women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, people from the LGBTQ community…basically anyone who wasn't a straight, white, highly-educated man. I came to the realization after a number of painful experiences in technology, a field that is often lauded for being meritocratic. The last straw was when I was nearly fired for doing my job, because a white woman found me difficult to work with.
 
I quit my lucrative job to write a book on the business case for gender diversity and inclusion – and how companies could attract and advance women at work. Back then, many people kept saying it wasn't that workplaces weren't set up to be diverse and inclusive, just that women didn't lean in far enough. And when they did, amazing things would happen. Look at Oprah, they say. Or Michelle Obama. Or Indra Nooyi.
 
I found, and still find, that version of the world short-sighted.Telling individuals that they need to work hard to get ahead without looking at structural barriers to equity entirely misses the point. It's also an easy excuse to never make long-term change.
 
I get it, real change is really hard. It means redistributing power and privilege. It means shutting up and listening to people who are different to us. It means refusing to sit on "manels" or attend events where there is no racial diversity. It often means giving up a seat at the table so that someone with less privilege, but equally deserving, gets a chance to be there.
 
As America gears up for mid-term elections, it means voting and campaigning for, and supporting a diverse array of candidates. We need diversity at all levels of leadership, particularly political, as the Kavanaugh debacle has painfully highlighted.
 
So, I invite you to join me: What about if we each could take personal responsibility towards overhauling our patriarchal workplaces so that each and every person truly had an equal chance to get ahead? What would that look like?
 
Feel free to tell me what you think on Twitter: @rtulshyan.
 
Ruchika Tulshyan is a diversity & inclusion strategist, noted author and award-winning journalist. She is the author of "The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality In The Workplace," first published by Forbes Media. Through her company Candour, Ruchika advises a number of organizations on diversity & inclusion strategy and communications. Ruchika is also the 2019 inaugural Distinguished Professional-In Residence for Seattle University’s Communication Department.