Detroit Regional Chamber > Diversity in the Workplace with Mark S. Lee

Diversity in the Workplace with Mark S. Lee

September 16, 2020

A diversity and inclusion strategy for a business should not be a knee-jerk reaction to any given circumstance. Mark S. Lee, president and CEO, The LEE Group, MI LLC, discussed the need for more businesses to become advocates for diversity and inclusion which can ultimately impact racial justice and achieving greater equity. Lee also offered insight on why it is important for leadership teams within an organization to reflect the diversity of the communities served and employees that work for those businesses.

Fundamental Attitudes

When discussing diversity, many link the cause of the problem to systemic racism, but Lee believes is fundamental as it relates to people’s attitudes. In a workplace environment, people are comfortable working with people that look like them and comfortable hiring people that look like them. Lee encourages workplaces to not look so much at numbers but included individuals and perspectives in the decision-making process.

“I think that’s what we’re still seeing, is that some people refuse to change. They refuse to change their attitudes, and some people are bringing that into their place of employment, their place of socialization, whatever it might be, and I think that’s driving some of the challenges that we’re still seeing today here in 2020,” said Lee.

Diversity vs. Inclusion vs. Equity

“Diversity really is getting the invitation and it’s the representation of people. Inclusion is getting the invitation to the table, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you make a decision, but you’re getting to the table. Equity is when you are brought to the table, and then you, you’ve got those opportunities to affect change and that’s the difference between those three,” said Lee.

Including all these components would strengthen business by having different points of view, different attitudes, and different mindsets that will help drive change and strategic direction of organizations.

“What it means is, is you have to continue to invest in these different segments of the population 365 days of the year. You need to bring people to the table,” said Lee.

Challenge the Culture

There is statistical data that proves that diverse teams have the opportunity of increasing revenue. The culture of that organization and agenda must be in place for this change to happen.

“If you have a diverse senior leadership team, according to the Boston consulting group, you have the potential of achieving 19% more revenue,” said Lee.

This fundamental change would test the very cultures of organizations. Having heartfelt, challenging conversations is the only way to have open and honest dialogues that change attitude and eventually inspire progress in achieving economic equity and social equality.