Without This, Your Diversity Strategy Doesn’t Matter

Intent is the key to results. In business, intent means knowing your business model. It means knowing what the key ingredients of your business are and knowing exactly how you make money. Intentional managers look beyond the short-term quarterly goals. Instead, they take the long view, focusing on their people and what they can do for the company.

When we intentionally use diversity management to get better business results, we’ve reached the next level of diversity. We’re setting out to achieve something. As long as we put careful effort into this, we’ll get the results we want. But those results have to be our intention.

Remember that results are the 5th R of next level diversity. If we focus on the other R’s, we won’t get results. Our intentions won’t be where they need to be.

For example, if reputation is our intent, we’ll tend to do things that enhance our reputation. Maybe we’ll have a nice image to present, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get the sort of results that satisfy our customers. Just look at Ainsworth A. Bailey’s work on consumer relations and company reputations. He found that consumers are generally skeptical of companies who wage reputation campaigns. So you might look good, but no one will be using your product or service.

If representation is our intent, we’ll spend our time making sure our employee teams look and think just like the customer base we’re serving. That means we’re focusing less on building successful teams and more on making our teams “look” a certain way. A successful team that gets results is far more important in the long run. It’s like Bailey says: People come for the results, not for the image.

When we make better results the intent of our diversity, we’ve reached the next level. That’s because we’re not focusing on things like representation or reputation. We’re focusing on offering our best product or service to our clients and customers. Diversity can be a catalyst that lets us achieve our best, but only if that’s our intent. If we use diversity just to look good or look like our customers, we’re missing the most important piece of the puzzle. Clients and customers want results more than anything.