#136 Ultimate Diversity and Full Inclusion Needs a Different Model

#136 Ultimate Diversity and Full Inclusion Needs a Different Model


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Diversity and Inclusion

It is insane that in modern times we find power held by traditional groups based on race and gender. We know it is bad for business in financial terms and innovation needed for growth and market non-displaceability. We know that diversity is undermined by cognitive biases,  the lack of ability to manage our mental modes of seeing and further, by programs and work design that are invisible to the eye and mind. We want to engage about that. We will only get started, but there is so much misunderstanding about how to move people and organizations in this regard. .

  • Diversity and Inclusion is not about being a more thoughtful person. Although that is required. It is not about being fair and equitable, although it does require activating that understanding. And it is not having a great business although it will produce that. 
    • It is about having each and every human able to develop and contribute their full potential in a lifetime and to have systems to evolve that capacity for each person and all of Life. 
    • Diversity and inclusion are also about a great working society and humans who are able to play meaningful roles in a society and the health and vitality of Earth. 
      • No matter what you are working on from sustainability to improved cash flow, you will discover that diversity and inclusion are core.
    • Just like most business concerns, the current approaches are at a limited paradigm. Most are “arrest disorder”, stop the harm, or are seeking to get companies to hire better (which they should also) or assign work in a diverse and inclusive way (which is not a wrong idea, just really slow). 

A Regenerative Approach to Diversity and Inclusion.

  • We have to look at what is really required to be Regenerative. We have to look at whole persons, working to realize their distinctive potential that will, over time,  make a great contribution.
  • We see each person as  having an Essence which is deeper than personality and all the classifications we seek to drop them into and provide recurring opportunities to evolve their capacity in the world for living systems thinking and personal self-development. 

What is a Regenerative Worldview?

  • It seems like the requirements, even with the known benefits, flies in the face of most business practices. Most practices promote the beliefs that people can be categorized by types, which always includes race and gender, as well as behavioral norms. 
  • The foundation of people programs is getting things standardized and we know that  from the founding of the industrial revolution, which most business designs still mimic, we are left with this way of seeing humans and most of life. This feels like a huge tasks to go in from different door. 
  • Let’s think of it as Three Things that need to change, Big and Difficult but only three foundational ideas. 
    • First, we work with Essence of each individual being revealed and expressed. We see every challenge as a capability challenge. We need to build a thinking and discernment capability rather than fix broken people and systems. And we make the design, evaluation and drivers of every program be external from the market and stakeholder perspective.
    • The undoing is the hardest work.  The easiest is the second challenge, which is that most challenges we have are capability, not structural. 
      • We don’t need to institute a program to change what people do and keep track up like Six Sigma, Agile, etc. 
      • We need to build capability to think differently. And to have this be the primary driver of a business or organization. Build capability to see the world differently. A living systems thinking mind is put to work.
      • Ongoing development instead of behavior correction and augmented programs and practices.  Particularly to see the world in terms of living systems like that they are nested. So, the work a team does in a business is nested in the market of people who buy from them which is nested in a society and on a planet. And they are all interrelated. 
        • Right now, most evaluation is not nested. It is focused on pleasing a boss, and sometimes colleagues, and delegating to the people we think will get the work done. It is all internal. What does this have to do with diversity.
        • It works on shifting the work to being about people focused on the same goals, which really matter to inclusion, which is who buys from us, what affect our businesses have on society and Earth. The companies that have seen some of the best movement in diversity and inclusion, have focused on big changes in the market and put people to work, together on them, with people stepping into the chosen role, and learning about one another as they work. 
          • We did this in Colgate South Africa. The teams that formed to improve oral health in Soweto and Alexandria where members of black tribes, Afrikaners and English. 
            • There was tons of reflection built into every event where people were together, based on learning to see how they were thinking. And evolve their thinking.  They stopped the external evaluation of one another. 
              • There were several reasons this was so powerful for business and for diversity and inclusion. 
                • One was it was individuals choosing what they were contributed to. This awakens Essence, which is the aspect of us that ‘chooses’ when such situations arise. 
                • It does not work if assigned. Bosses cannot see the Essence of others well enough to assign. But they don’t need to. 
                • When an individual is asked where they want to contribute, Essence is awakened. 
                • And  The” oral health for children” was only one project. Another was economic stability for women in the townships through small businesses they helped establish.  Everyone was involved in ‘opting into’ a project or teams that awakened Essence and put it to work. 
  • One of the biggest drivers of diversity and inclusion is the ongoing development sessions that terms are in together. In Kingsford Charcoal, the population was very diverse partly because it was manufacturing.
  • It was an award winning example of diversity and inclusion but without that being mentioned at all. When a couple of line operators proposed the creation of a community newsletter coupled with learning to read and write, this  combination of second and third principles (capability is assumed to be the foreground and always done for the external stakeholders like customers or community) was launched. 
    • It was a publication about what was going on in Burnside, KY but produced by an illiterate set of journalists and production folks at the plant. The hired teacher was engaged to use the newsletter, the offering as the foundation of learning. 
    •  We have a Newtonian view of the subject. That is work on it directly. I have found that you change the culture and the assumptions faster by working on indirectly. By the three principles I offered:
    • Working with Essence of each person by asking where each wants to contribute
    • Imbed capability that crosses over all groups and person as a permanent part of work
    • Set up or encourage creation of ventures that serve stakeholders as the foundation to change. 
  • The tendency to categorize, accompanied by the need to put people into their box, drives much that goes on in our minds and then ultimately in management practice. Categories of people and their activity is an artificial, invalidated idea; a distraction from inclusion and understanding. 
    • In fact, there is great evidence that seeing each individual uniquely has great payoffs. Any form of category, be it competencies, learning styles or way of working makes it difficult and maybe even impossible to see an individual for who they are and what they can bring. It works against individuals understanding and developing themselves as well. 
      • It systematizes the idea of people being types. The greatest unified is the process of seeing and engaging each human, discovering them as individuals—their singularity. One of One!  Is that all? Essence is the ultimate diversity and inviting each unique contribution is the ultimate inclusion.
      • We will look at how systems design, more specifically fosters the undermining of diversity and inclusion, the systems and structures we design for work and decision-making needs to be designed to be regenerative to their core.
        • But that can be explored in The Regenerative Business and No More Feedback which giver detailed design on how to build developmental organizations that just go to work in a way that invites, compels and nourishes diversity and inclusion. Check them out

At Carol Sanford Institute, we are launching a set of new SEED-communities built around The  Regenerative Life, my new book out in March. The first one is The Regenerative Women Entrepreneur Community. If you consider yourself to be now or aspire to be

  • An increasing source of innovation, you see yourself as laying a new track toward a different future.
  • You have enormous personal agency. You don’t need anyone’s permission to work on what you see needs working on. You just begin.
  • Blessed with a fidgety mind that drive you to try to understand the essence of the phenomena you encounter. Possessed of a natural discontent, you are always looking for how to re-imagine things 

If you are not now engaged this way, every day, it is your aspiration to be there soon, then join us. SEED-communities.com. The Regenerative Life option. 

Thanks to Lara Dickerson, Ex Director of OSC2, an association of Natural Food producers who are working to change the way we  for suggesting our topic. We are sending you a Get a Second Opinion Mug, holds your favorite hot or cold beverage. If you want one of our Get a Second Opinion Mugs, send us your topics on practices in business that need a second opinion. You can email us carol@businessSecondOpinion.com or find us on Twitter @biz_second_opinion . If we use it to develop an episode, you get a mug. Also, your ratings and reviews on any platform help people find us and spread the word. Sign up for our newsletter so you get connections to the show notes and much more. 


Harvard Business Review Articles we reviewed

To Retain Employees, Focus on Inclusion 

  1. To Retain Employees, Focus on Inclusion  Karen Brown  DECEMBER 04, 2018
  2. When and Why Diversity Improves Your Board Performance, By Stephanie  Creaey, March 27, 2019
  3. Does Diversity Training Work The Way It Is Suppose To, By Edward H. Change, July 9, 2019


To Achieve Ultimate Diversity, Look Past Categories and Focus on Individuals  BY CAROL SANFORD   November 9, 2018


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 Carol Sanford and Zac Swartout, co-producers





  1. #155 Regenerative Lens on Bias: Racism, Genderism, Ageism - Carol Sanford - November 13, 2020

    […] Zac: Like core competencies. We did an early podcast on how to see the ultimate diversity is essence and the ultimate inclusion is each unique contribution. We can we put that in the show notes again. (#136) […]

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