Creating Diversity in Business with Intention, a Q + A with Flor Gomez

Diversity. It's a hot topic these days. Personally, I spend a lot of time self-educating via articles and podcasts about diversity in business but I was still finding my own personal circle, pretty homogenous. I've been challenging myself to open the scope of my business and network, in the hopes of gaining insight and experience from those outside my own homogenous bubble. That's when I met Flor.

Floritza Gomez is the #whole30 Certified Coach, Recipe Developer, and Blogger behind @isimplyam_flor and www.isimplyamflor.com. We sat down to discuss diversity in business, where companies miss the mark, and how to simplify the process of bringing added diversity into a business, team, or project. Enjoy!

NB: In general terms, where do we fail at bringing diversity into our companies, projects and teams? FG: The number one failure that I've noticed and experienced in brands that I interact with is that they over-generalize what we think diversity is. The definition is misconstrued and often, people are only thinking about diversity of skin color, race and culture. Diversity is an umbrella that has to include relatability, inclusivity and accessibility. Let's take for example, a company that is introducing a new recipe: You try to introduce something different, and you try to bring diversity to your community by bringing something from a different culture; it's a variation of the usual consumer offering; but when it's introduced, it's done so without thinking about the relatability, inclusivity or accessibility factors. Introduction is flawed and improperly researched, and what happens is that the people who might have a connection to your new recipe and don't normally follow you, although might be appreciative that you've begun to include new and exciting recipes from their culture into your product set, are disappointed that the attempt was not well-researched and doesn't honor their experience. The lack of authenticity puts them off to a point where they now no longer trust your brand.

To sum it up, it's a lack of energy, research, authenticity and an over-generalization of what being diverse actually means. The message can't be "I'm trying to be diverse because I hear it's important", and must be "All people are different, and we all bring something different to the table." Diversity is something natural; it seems silly that we should be putting so many processes in place, and creating strategies to just be inclusive and expose yourself to other types of people. We're trying to formulate something that should be innate in us.

NB: That brings me to my next question, which you've touched on, which is: Why is talking about being diverse isn't enough? Why does it require action? FG: It definitely requires action. When you talk about it, you're making it part of an agenda, but when you just do it-- when you just open your mind to the idea that we're all different and consume content and products differently-- it goes a long way. This idea that being diverse is such a big undertaking, and such a big project is flabbergasting to me. The entire human race is diverse in itself; there is not a single person that is the same, and companies need to honor that. In taking action, it's also important to note that diversity goes beyond skin color and race! It's diversity of experience, ability, resources, locations and more. A first step can be as easy as doing your research, or expanding your research beyond the current scope of what you know.

NB: What I think is interesting is that there's a lot of people out there who are afraid to take that leap of "doing" so they plan, plan, plan, because either they don't want to offend, or they haven't done enough research. The truth is, we all fail. Companies fail majorly when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. When these failures inevitably do happen, how do you think we can honor, recognize, and communicate them with grace, humility and compassion? FG: I will say, that another huge failure is looking at marginalized communities like they're only a project, or an opportunity; It's all about authenticity. It's as simple as saying your sorry or that you got it wrong and taking the shortest path to making people feel included. Ask your consumers, how to do better. People don't want to hear about diversity, they want to see what you do. Not including people in your process, who authentically understand your desired market, shows that you don't care. The opportunity is not in the conversation about diversity, but instead in your failures. Your failure gives you the opportunity to do better and serve correctly. Take that opportunity of failure to be authentic and create that authenticity via inclusion. Show your consumer base that you're open to feedback.

NB: I talk to a lot of my clients about expansion-- expanding their horizons, product lines, networks, etc. What are some action steps we can take right now to bring more diversity into their companies, teams, and / or projects?

FG: I think it starts by doing an assessment and some self-discovery about your particular privilege. We often assume a lot about the people in our spheres, and companies assume a lot about their consumers. They assume they have access to the same resources, that they're interested in the same things, or that they'll use their products in the same way, when that's rarely the case. Next I would research the loyal and engagement of the communities you're looking to serve through diversity initiatives. This will help you establish your goals and allow you to ask yourself, "why is this particular diversity initiative important, and what am I looking to gain from it?"

Lastly, would come application. Doing the work, even experimentally, and taking action, instead of planning into oblivion.