The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity | Arwa Mahdawi | TEDxHamburg


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Whenever you bring up diversity,
people’s hearts tend to sink a little bit. They’re like, “Oh my God,
I’m going to have a lecture. I’m going to have to sit
through slides like this, with multicultural hands in the air, people of different races holding hands,
giving each other high fives, holding each other, maybe holding the world,
holding the globe up – When we talk about diversity, we tend to do so in a really unimaginative,
stock-standard kind of way. And that’s because people
don’t really want to talk about diversity. They don’t want to talk
about diversity in the workplace. It’s just a problem
that needs to be solved so that you can get on to other things. And that’s an attitude
that I’ve kind of come across a lot during my working life because, I mean, I don’t want
to boast or anything, but in technical terms, I’m a three-fer: I’m brown, I’m gay, I’m female. I’m three minorities for the price of one. (Laughter) So, you know, I’m the triple threat, but I’m also the triple opportunity because when companies hire me,
they get to tick three diversity boxes. (Laughter) They get three times the value, and they get someone to wheel out,
to show that they’re not sexist, they’re not homophobic,
they’re not racist. Because everybody’s worried
about that, obviously. The flip side of diversity
is discrimination, and diversity and discrimination
are huge issues at the moment, as our cities change,
as the demographics of our cities change, particularly now with the refugee crisis. But things are changing,
the face of our cities is changing, but what’s not changing
is the face of power: the people on our TVs, the people in the big board rooms,
upper management. That’s still exactly the same. We still have institutionalized sexism. Did you know that, in the US, there are more guys called John
that lead major companies than women leading major companies? (Laughter) (Applause) There are actually 17,
compared to 7 women. We also face institutionalized racism. I mean, it’s well documented that
if you’ve got a foreign-sounding name, you have a harder time getting a job. There was a study done in Germany that found that if you have a name
that sounds German, you’re 14% more likely
to be called for an interview than if you have a name
that sounds Turkish. And I mean, probably
a lot of you are thinking, “Fourteen percent? I thought it would be
a bit more than that, actually.” This all really needs to change, and not just because
it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s
the profitable thing to do. There are so many studies that show that increasing diversity in a company
makes for a more successful company. For example, racially diverse teams
outperform non-diverse ones by 35%, according to Mackenzie, and teams where men and women are equal
earn 41% more revenue. So, here’s the situation,
this is where we are: we know that the corporate
world needs to change, we know that there’s
a business case for changing, and yet nothing is changing. How do we go from talking about diversity
to actually making it happen? This is something I’ve been
thinking about for a while, and earlier this year,
I had a kind of light-bulb moment, and I came up with a brilliant solution. So, I got a team together, and we started working
on building this new service, a service that would really
just change the diversity debate and really solve the diversity
problem once and for all. So, what is this
revolutionary new service? Well, it’s called Rent-A-Minority. I like to think of it
as an Uber for diversity. (Laughter) Because the thing is – [Get ethics with our ethics.
We have a minority for every occasion.] (Laughter) (Applause) Diversity is difficult. It takes time, it takes resources, it takes energy. Companies don’t have that time, they need to be getting on
with what’s really important. So, what we need is something
that’s quick and easy: diversity on demand. So how does this work? Well, if you are a minority,
you can sign up on our website. We have a strict vetting procedure so that we ensure
we only get the best minorities. (Laughter) You can see some
of our minorities featured here. So – (Laughter) (Applause) A very popular category
is the ethnically ambiguous category because it’s very, very versatile, it can be whatever
you want them to be, really. We’ve got a smiling Muslim women: “Doesn’t support ISIS
or your money back”; intellectual black guy – Really, we’ve got a minority
for every occasion. We work with clients to find
the right minority for your needs. And our clients are very, very happy. We’ve got a long testimonial section
you can check out on the website. [The best thing to happen to Indians
since British colonialism.] (Laughter) I’m glad to see that some people
got the joke here. (Laughter) Because it has been so successful, we are launching an ad campaign
a bit later this year in New York. So, there may be some of you here
who are still thinking, “Okay, what is going on? Why did TEDx invite
this crazy person to our conference? Is this a joke?” And I’ve had that question a lot. A lot, a lot of people
have asked me that question. So I even made a FAQ page
and put up the answer. And the answer is yes! (Laughter) It is a joke. But a lot of people
didn’t realize it was a joke. You know, I had a thousand people
sign up to be minorities. (Laughter) I even received genuine business inquiries
from big companies, that I won’t name, asking about the service. In fact, I think I could have made
a lot of money out of the company if I’d monetized it. It might be a missed opportunity. So, the reason some people
didn’t realize it was a joke is because Rent-A-Minority
is very close, scarily close, to the way that a lot of companies
deal with the diversity question, a very superficial approach to diversity, that actually makes the whole issue worse, because there are
so many studies that show that people find diversity training,
enforced diversity training, awful. It makes a lot of white men
feel very resentful. It actually increases prejudice because a lot of people
suddenly think, you know, that if you’re someone like me, you’ve suddenly got
an escalator to the top, everything’s stacked up for you. The thing is it’s really not because what we’re not doing is we are not getting rid
of institutional inequality, we’re not getting rid of the barriers that stop companies
from becoming more equal. All we’re doing is
this very surface-level tokenism. That means that if you
are someone like me, every time you do have a success, people are very quick to attribute it
to tokenism or to diversity schemes, or, “You only got that
because you are a woman,” or, “Because you’re brown.” And I actually got
a lot of people writing in to me and saying how they’ve felt
that reflected their own experience. There’s a section of the website now
with people’s stories and anecdotes in it. And the thing is, you know, sometimes
people do get jobs because of tokenism. That doesn’t help anyone. There was this one woman
who wrote in to me, and she said that she had recently taken
a role at a business consulting firm. It was previosuly occupied
by a smiley Asian woman, a very sort of ambiguously Asian woman. She left, they hired her. She was the only person
of color in the company, and it was clear that she’d just taken
that one slot of “ethnically ambiguous.” Again, it doesn’t help anyone.
It makes the situation so much worse. So, Rent-A-Minority was
a fake solution to a very real problem. What’s the real solution? Well, I’ve got bad news
and I’ve got good news. The bad news is that
there is no quick solution, there’s no silver bullet. It takes time; it takes effort. However, the good news is
that diversity is a serious issue, but we don’t need to take it so seriously. One of the reasons I set up
Rent-A-Minority was because I think that one of the things holding us back
is that nobody talks about it because they don’t want
to be seen as racist or sexist, they don’t want to step on people’s toes, that this sort of inability
to talk about it properly actually contributes to the problem. So, I think we shouldn’t be afraid
to find humor in the situation, because as Mark Twain said, the human race has only one
really effective weapon, and that’s laughter. The other good news is that all of us
can be doing small things that louder up to big changes. And by “all of us,” I do mean all of us. Diversity isn’t something that HR fixes. It’s something that everyone
is responsible for and everybody should
be doing something about. So, what can you do? Well, if you’re in HR
or you’re responsible for recruiting, you might want to think about ways
that you can reduce your unconscious bias. In the 1970s, symphony orchestras were all white men, and they thought,
“Let’s do something about this.” So, they set up blind auditions where musicians actually
auditioned behind a screen, so you couldn’t see if it was a woman
or the color of their skin. They found that it actually brought the number of
women getting accepted into orchestras up from between 25% to 46%, depending on the study. A company called GapJumpers has now started to take
this idea of blind auditions and apply it to the corporate world. So instead of looking through
people’s CVs to find candidates, you can assign them
challenges anonymously. And what they found is that they’ve got 60% more minority
applicants selected for interviews as compared to CV screenings, and they’ve got 125% more women selected
compared to CV screenings. So suddenly, that question of, “Oh, we couldn’t find the best candidate,
it’s all about the best candidate, we just can’t find them,” it’s started to sound a bit false
because they are all out there. That is, unconscious bias
is getting in the way. Another thing everyone can do
is just say something. If nobody says anything, nothing changes. So, if you are in a room,
in a meeting, in a company, and it’s all just the same sort of persons
sitting around the table, go and talk to your manager, you know. Talk about it, make a comment. You don’t want to be
in a company that’s like that. Another thing we can all be doing is just
finding ways to prove again and again that diversity is beneficial,
that is does have a positive effect, it’s not just political correctness. That, by the way, isn’t
the mathematical proof for diversity. I’m not sure there is one. But we can all be doing these experiments
and finding ways to prove it. For example, in London,
in the advertising industry, a group of five creative
directors got together and they initiated this thing called
The Great British Diversity Experiment. And what they did was they got 120 people
from different backgrounds, they put them in teams,
they got them to solve a live brief and they had researchers
ethnographically studying them to see how they interacted compared
to if it was a homogeneous group. And they found that, yes,
being in a diverse group – and this is common sense – it makes you more creative. Because you get so many more
different perspectives, you connect the dots in different ways. And they issued a report
at the end of this and they said, you know,
diversity is the new Darwinism. And this is absolutely right. The world is changing
whether you like it or not, and companies have
to evolve or go extinct. And tokenism is not evolving. Finally, what I’d really urge is that we just get rid
of the word “diversity” altogether because the thing about diversity is that it assumes
that there is a nucleus of normal: it’s pro straight, white men called John. Everyone else is “diverse.” That’s so patently wrong. The world has changed so much
and will continue to, and diversity now is the new normal. Thank you. (Applause)

79 thoughts on “The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity | Arwa Mahdawi | TEDxHamburg”

  1. If you use superficial metrics, you will incentivize superficial action. Business 101.
    Of course government policies make prejudices worse, because they are prejudicial. Doesn't help anyone.

  2. diversity can be given whatever name but it exists..and in different measures in different countries..so the problem has to be solved area specific…and it should start at hiring level…instead of choosing the best person with past experience… the best woman who has potential and intent to perform

  3. If corporations really believed these "researches" that diversity is profitable, they would be actively pursuing it. Again, what is done does not reflect what was ought to be done, maybe because CEOs think sociologists and social "scientists" are full of sh*t?

  4. Arwa, thanks an entertaining talk. Not sure about abolishing the word Diversity as it scares this win power. I do have a model from my thesis that provides a way to mange and promote institional change, the sad fact is that companies don't want to solve the issue as it changes power.

  5. Nice hit piece in The Gaurdian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/15/youtube-pewdiepie-thinks-death-to-all-jews-joke-laughing-yet
    "A joke is never just a joke, you see"

  6. These social experiments need to end. Just hire the most qualified person for the job.

    If you have some weird obsession with surrounding yourself with different people of different races, genders, religions, etc. then by all means, surround yourself with as many of those people as you want. But quit trying to impose your diversity fetish on the rest of society.

    It's disturbing and insulting how so many self-proclaimed "progressives" place so much importance on diversity and multiculturalism. Do you people not realize how degrading it is that you value people solely based on their race, gender, or religion? You get so giddy about interacting with "exotic" people simply because of how that person's skin color or religion makes you feel about yourself. (e.g., parading around minorities like they're trophies proving you aren't a racist).

    Many of you use "diversity" as a way to prove to the world you're inclusive, loving, and tolerant people. But the reality is you're just selfish opportunists taking advantage of other people and using them for personal gain. You don't care about the people you're dealing with. You don't care about their personal stories. All you care about is meeting some arbitrary quota you've set. You treat minorities like some type of tool or currency that you're always so eager to use in whatever way you can to feel better about yourself, improve your reputation & social status among your liberal friends, and gain power over others.

  7. This is all about government power to people accountable to any action, take your freedom away, controlling in every way possible.
    Just like tv will brainwash you.
    # smart meters control you.
    # your phone track you down.
    # your bank own you.

    And more.
    New world order controls by the fricking balls.

  8. The profitability of "diversity" (=employing people for their skin colour/nationality=racism) is a lie !

  9. Diversity has worked so well in the past! I'm going to name all the countries with a lot of diversity! 😀
    Austro-Hungary
    The Ottoman Empire
    Serbia
    The Mongolian Empire
    Yugoslavia
    Czechoslovakia
    Portuguese Empire
    Spanish Empire
    Korea
    Israel
    Palestine
    Jordan
    Iran
    Iraq
    Sudan
    China
    Russia
    Danish Empire
    India
    Sinkiang
    Romania
    Bulgaria
    Germany
    France
    Slovakia
    Northern Cyprus
    Southern Cyprus
    Ukraine
    Bangladesh

  10. This is a great TED Talk. This is something that is a real problem and I love that it is being addressed here. Lots of people watch these videos and take them seriously so hopefully companies see this and realize that diversity in the workplace will be very helpfull to their business.

  11. Seems to me the diversity-obsession brigade don't really care about the only form of diversity that matters – the diversity of ideas and experiences.

    It's much easier instead for them to look at a lineup of candidates and assume that anyone who isn't white, or who isn't male automatically has different ideas or experience. In a way, it's kind of the most presumptive concept out there – just because someone looks different, they must act and think differently.

    seems it's all about what's on the outside, not what's on the inside … because it's much easier to measure appearances than thoughts and experiences!

  12. I believe this is the only video I've saved just for the appreciation of the comment section. Diversity is constantly being measured by superficial details, shouldn't in the workforce it be about individuals? You can't generalize diversity, and these days it's literally been reduced to a liberal buzzword.

  13. Perhaps more diverse teams work better because it changes the dynamic in the team from the 'smart' or 'good looking' person having the lead to a more equal playing field.

  14. Whiteopia for me, diversity for thee
    capitalism for me, communism for thee
    Guns for me, tyranny for thee
    Free speech for me, censorship for thee
    Gated enclaves for me, open borders for thee
    Eugenics for me, BM/WF/MB for thee
    Sinecures for me, H1-B abuse for thee
    Asset inflation for me, price inflation for thee
    Bodyguards for me, knockout game for thee

  15. Huge waste of time. Her proposed solutions were honestly not helpful in the slightest. You owe me my 15 minutes back lady.

  16. Take your diversity to the prison systems and see where that gets you. When animals are left at their own will, your diversity is the LEAST import factor in life.

    Look at the individual and stop puting people in boxes

  17. hold on… why is she classifying herself as a three-fer? Why is being a woman a minority? .. .. WHAT?! .. I .. I'm all for diversity and multiculturalism. But the one-upmanship here is through the roof. Women are not a minority. You don't deserve special attention for BEING a minority. Go out and work hard. Be the best YOU that you can be and you will be better for it. Don't make up false hindrances and pretend that you're being held back by something that isn't actually there. Take accountability for your life and decisions and make the best of what you've been given. We don't all get to have what we want. We get what we earn.

  18. Arwa Mahdawi – this city is not yours. You're a guest there. If enough of your kind will arrive to the city, everything will crumble in a few short years.

  19. Isn't this what James Damore was talking about in his memo, Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber? He said that diversity was good but that companies were using practices that increased resentment and didn't actually work.

  20. The white men she's talking about who are threatened by diversity: all over this comment section. LOL. Evidence was too easy to gather.

  21. How about just finding the most skilled person for the position you serious you suppose to hire someone was less skilled for the job just to be diverse that's insanity

  22. The flip side of diversity is discrimination?? That’s not true. Her whole lecture is based on a false claim. Diversity of the workplace based on anything but merit is discriminatory.

  23. Arwa Mahdawi,stop preaching in the west and go to the third world where those places need diversity,see if your leftist liberal agenda works in an Islamic country or an African country,you are pathetic!

  24. Nice comments, but could you please introduce us to the elephant standing next to you? Yes…that one. The thing is, diversity is a workplace issue for everyone before the first word is spoken. Companies that don't treat employees fairly, that don't motivate, that have confused goals, that are arrogant towards workers, might as well be speaking Martian when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
    No, it's worse than that. The employees would hear Martian; they tune out diversityspeak coming from people whose readership they can't respect. I'm not a graduate student. I'm a good service worker, and many of us regard diversity crapolacoming from clueless managers as just so much time out of our lives. Worse,, many of us more of less openly resent it.

  25. 2000, Hoan Bridge – Extreme cold, snow, and heavy traffic
    2001, I-285 bridge over GA-400 – Set on fire from fuel tanker overturning
    2001, Queen Isabella Causeway – Support was hit by a barge
    2002, 1-40 Bridge Disaster – Barge struck a pier.
    2003, Kinzua Bridge – Hit by tornado with 100 mph
    2004, Interstate 95 Howard Overpass – fire from car hitting a truck
    2004, C-470 overpass I-70 – Girder twisted during construction
    2005, I-10 Twin Span Bridge – Extensive damage from Katrina/flooding
    2007, MacArthur Maze – Tanker Truck crashed into it
    2007, 35W over the Mississippi River – Weight of construction equipment
    2007, Harp Road Bridge – Truck hauling an excavator was too heavy for it.
    2008, Cedar Rapids Iowa City Railway – Flood damage
    2009, 9 Mile Road Bridge I-75 – Tanker accident cause it to collapse.
    2009, San Fran Oakland Bay Bridge – Repair failures
    2012, Eggner Ferry over the Tennessee River – Boat struck the bottom part of the bridge
    2012, Jay Cookie Swinging Bridge – Raging floodwaters
    2013, I-5 Skagit River Bridge – Oversized Truck clipped girder while carrying heavy machinery
    2013, Scott City roadway Bridge – Train's cars hit it
    2015, Hopple Street Overpass over I-75 – Demolition work while being taken down
    2015, Pennsy Bridge – Partial Collapse during demolition
    2015, I-10 Bridge – Abutment displacement from stream winding causing abutment scouring.
    2015, bob white Bridge – Major Flooding
    2017, Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge – Massive rain and avalanche
    2017, I-85N Atlanta – Fire/Arson

    2018, FIU Pedestrian bridge – Diversity & Feminism.

    You don't get a job because you aren't the best person for it. End of Story.

  26. She gives the game away when she talks about power. That's what this is about. Not 'equality' or any such moralistic dogma, no, no. This is about the progressive left fast-tracking members of their coalition of the aggrieved into positions of power and influence, and thereby consolidating their own ideological camp's control.

  27. If I were a woman or a 'POC' who landed my dream job these days, I think I'd be privately asking myself if I was just hired for that fact. And I'd be wondering if all my colleagues were thinking the same too.

  28. there is a silver bullet, its called socialism

    you can never make the current system called capitalism to "un-oppress" people, thats what it does by design

  29. can we just deport arwa already? i'm not even american but she needs to go. where i don't know. preferably the bottom of the ocean, or a deep mine shaft.

  30. She is either a genius parodying the diversity proponents or utterly dishonest or stupid.
    1. companies don't hire in the general population, they hire within the candidate pool. For the most part, the representation in companies reflect the representation in the candidate pool. There is not a 50% representation of women in the candidates for high power positions so you don't get to conclude discrimination.
    2. she goes from studies showing companies which HAVE better "diversity" tend to do better to companies which ARE MADE TO have better "diversity" tend to do better. How dishonest can one be?

    She started well though by pointing out how diversity trainings are boring and superficial. Of course they are! Diversity of appearance over diversity of though and experience is at it's core superficial…

  31. Poor people commenting their hatred anonymously here online… Addressing tasks and challenges from multiple perspectives is key and learning how to manage these DIVERSE positions the only way to success in the future.

  32. Its all relevant, it depends where you work. All the fortune 500 companies that I worked for had more high paying woman managers then man. Diversity is very important in business because the whole world is diverse. At the same time when you should get rid of diversity and just hire for skills.

  33. Diversity is simply racism against White people. Notice they NEVER talk about it in ANY context other than "fewer White people."

  34. "Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%"- big stretch from the actual McKinsey study- "Racially diverse teams are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians."

  35. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. – MLK

  36. White people are a small minority worldwide. The Asians that you mentioned are a large majority. To hire a true minority, hire more white people.

  37. I read your guardian stories (sometimes) and you dont half write some utopian clap trap but i do respect your alternative opinion

  38. Is it just me, or does this comments section seem bizarre…? These comments seem like they all came from people who didn't watch the video. They feel completely divorced from the meat of Mahdawi's argument. Bummer cause I was looking forward to reading what real life people actually thought about this talk.

  39. For those who benefit from the oppression of others and are blind to how it impacts them daily all their lives, equality feels like oppression.

    Welcome to this comments section.

  40. A friend at Intel says he is the last 'White Male' there after 21 years. I think she is fabricating her facts. Women are winning the battle.
    Diversity is not good for anyone but Third World people. Communism sounds good to the poor and uneducated.

  41. Diversity is the new normal….um, didn't she mean Victimization is the new normal to get something for nothing?

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