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Newsletter Week 38

October 30, 2019

A primer on psychological safety. Also, another proof point that diversity is good for the bottom line, this one from the eminent and business-friendly Wall Street Journal. Engaging white men in DEI discussions: some tips for effective facilitation. Finally, how Gap Inc. created a win, in a fashion industry with more than its share of failures this year.

This Week in D&I In Practice

How to Create a Psychologically Safe Workplace (D&I In Practice Original)

I recently had the honor of hearing Dr. Amy Edmondson, the creator of the term “psychological safety,” speak at Stanford. Coming out of that experience, I thought it would be useful to put together an introductory piece on this often-quoted and often-misunderstood topic. Let me know what you think!

This Week in News and Research

1.The Business Case for More Diversity (Wall Street Journal)

The evidence continues to pile up: diversity is good for the bottom line. This analysis by the eminent and business-friendly WSJ shows that companies with greater diversity tend to have both better operating results and better share price performance. What’s really interesting here is the methodology, which looks beyond the composition of senior leadership and boards into such factors as the presence of a chief diversity officer, and the existence of both diversity and inclusion programs at a company.

2. How to Show White Men that Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Need Them (Harvard Business Review)

Practitioner Lily Zheng shares learnings from her experiences facilitating challenging conversations about DEI with business leaders, most of whom are white men. Her key insight, from the article:

It’s clear we all, especially D&I practitioners, need to offer psychologically safe spaces for white people and privileged people to explore these conversations. Otherwise, we will continue to encounter defensiveness and won’t get the support we seek from these leaders. In my own work, I’ve found two practices that help: framing identity as insight and focusing on equity.

In other words, white men also hold valuable knowledge about how organizations work and how DEI plays out in the world. That knowledge, like all knowledge, is incomplete. Likewise, by focusing on equity, Zheng taps into the natural human instinct towards fairness, which provides an opening to talk about what fairness looks like in a DEI context.

3.   How Gap Inc’s Company-Wide Diversity and inclusion Council is Driving Sales (Glossy)

It’s a nice change to see a major fashion company in the news for getting it right. This short case study describes how Gap designed and marketed the True Hues line, a collection of undergarments and shoes that come in eight colors. I’m also glad that the article acknowledged that, in doing so, Gap is following in the footsteps of female entrepreneurs who have been meeting the needs of a diverse world of customers this way for a long time. From the article:

“A lot of female founders have already been doing this. They’re innovating around size, shades and colors, so a brand like Gap doing it now is almost like they are a little late to the party,” said DaSilva [president of advertising agency Berlin Cameron]. “But it’s still a good idea. This desire for inclusivity is not going away, so people are going to be looking for brands that are doing this.”

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