Let’s Talk About Diversity and Inclusion!
I know when you saw this title, you thought, “Oh boy, here we go! Why do we have to talk about this? Is this just a ‘trendy’ topic?”
Although diversity on its own can be a “heavy” concept at first glance, in fact, I suggest it's straightforward to understand its importance. Here are several ways I see diversity providing growth and adding value to our industry.
Diversity and Inclusion of Methodologies
How can we improve our industry without new ideas? Business continuity is an emergent discipline from the early days of disaster recovery planning. Since that time, we’ve developed standards and practices as the foundation of BCP. Also, as businesses seek to become resilient, business continuity planning has become more “diverse” as programs combine various strategies. We see programs adopting principles from information security, emergency management, crisis management, risk, and other methodologies as a holistic approach to minimize disruptions. BCP professionals are challenged to move away from static planning and embrace dynamic programming initiatives. Being diverse and inclusive of new ideas will lead to innovation and growth within the resilience industry.
Expanding Thought Leadership
As we expose ourselves to different theories and methodologies within the business continuity industry, we also need to expose ourselves to different types of people and experiences to prevent group-think and deter narrow/one-sided views of BC planning. As an industry, there are limited opportunities provided to emerging thought leaders in favor of tried-and-true professionals designated as “the” experts. Yet, there’s not a lack of expertise within our profession. I credit my growth in the industry to colleagues who took the time to share their knowledge, ideas, and overall enthusiasm for our profession with me. What is lacking is an opportunity and little support from others, which leaves the impression of exclusivity. I’ve had opportunities to be a part of the business continuity conversation because of the encouragement of others and their willingness to provide opportunities I was unaware of. Yes, the rest of the work was mine to take advantage of however, the opportunity needed to be presented in the first place. Our industry can only continue to grow if we create opportunities by intentionally opening our networks and allowing space for others to add to the discussion.
Our profession has made great strides with the growth of women and BIPOC representation. We are also experiencing a moment where the workforce is more diverse than ever, with multiple generations (from Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z) represented within organizations.
When I first entered this profession, there were many instances where I was the only woman or minority on a team.
I also tended to be the youngest, less experienced person in a “sea” of people who didn’t look like me and I had no connection to previously. I felt an imposed expectation by myself and others to be the spokesperson for a “whole” culture and gender, which at times was daunting and crippling to my achievements. Being in those situations forced me to break out of my comfort zone and identify my own unconscious bias of people’s perceptions of me to find commonalities with others. It also compelled me to share my perspective, which was not always considered due to my perceived lack of experience. I am sharing this because it is an excellent example of why diversity is essential. It's no different from the work to break down siloed departmental planning when establishing programs.
When we bring departments together, business units begin to share their perspectives and identify commonalities and find ways to work together. Our industry can do the same by allowing others to bring their whole self to the profession. Doing so fosters opportunities to increase representation, builds connections, enables new perspectives to emerge, and provides opportunities for new professionals within the resiliency industry. Through discussion and openness, I’ve developed a great network of people with different experiences and backgrounds who have enhanced my journey. I’ve also embraced my role to pave the way for those after me.
About Lisa Jones, MBCI
Lisa is the co-founder of the Resilience Think Tank and has over 13 years promoting resiliency and elevating contingency planning visibility. She is a gifted communicator who readily shares insight on planning awareness, recovery strategies and industry trends, through presentations, articles and thought leadership projects.