OSPE - The Voice - December 2017 - 27


[of a company] than gender diversity." McKinsey found that where gender diverse
companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform non-gender diverse companies,
ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform non-ethnically
diverse companies.
Many STEM-related corporations are indeed singing the praises of diversity beyond
gender. GE, for example, has stated that their "affinity network model" - which includes
an African American Forum and a Hispanic Forum - has helped their company "attract
and develop diverse talent." For Boeing, diversity is so "vital to creating advanced
aerospace products and services" that they encourage employee-led associations of
members who "share a common interest, such as race, gender or cultural identity."
Intel publicly reports on their progress "to actively support hiring and retaining more
women and underrepresented minorities" and has pledged to invest $300 million to
achieve those goals.
For diversity to truly succeed, a key element is required: inclusion. Defined by the
author of Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage, Shirley Engelmeier,
inclusion means "actively involving every employee's ideas, knowledge, perspectives,
approaches, and styles to maximize business success." Inclusion, however, is notoriously
difficult to enforce. For example, Google and Uber have diversity programs. Among its
many services devoted to EDI, Google has what they call "unbiasing training" for their
teams, and Uber has employee resource groups set up that promote "black diversity,"
"women's inclusion" and more. Yet in 2017, the infamous "Google manifesto" negatively
affected morale and public perception at that company, and at Uber, according to
some reports, charges of sexism may have contributed to a significant dent in the
company's value.
Most engineering departments at universities in North America have EDI programs
as well, but that doesn't mean they are always inclusive. I'll give you an example from
Ryerson's Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. At an afternoon we devoted
to issues of equity and inclusion called "Identity Dialogues," we asked our engineering
students about their experiences with bias. One student, a young man, told us about a
struggle he experienced in one of his classes. He has an accent and is often interrupted
by fellow students when he participates in discussions or asks questions. He's even
outright ignored. Although we gave him strategies and spoke with his professor about
the issue, damage had been done. That student's perception of our institution and
engineering in general has been tainted because of a failure of inclusion.
Why do these types of cracks appear in the foundations of companies and institutions
that go to great lengths to educate on diversity? Why, in other words, does inclusion not
always follow diversity efforts? Humans aren't perfect, is one explanation. The actions
of one don't speak for an entire company or university is another. The explanation
I'm more interested in, however, is that most of us have been going about diversity
programming all wrong.
In 2016, The Harvard Business Review featured an article called "Why Diversity
Programs Fail." The authors examined three decades' worth of data from more than
800 U.S. firms and came to the conclusion that, in their words, "you can't outlaw bias."
Diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, grievance procedures, all the
classic command-and-control approaches to diversity do not work. What does work,
the authors found, are tactics that don't focus on control, but instead engage managers
in solving the problem, expose them to people from different groups, and encourage
social accountability for change.
In other words, you cannot change biased individuals unless you alter the culture
that perpetuates that bias. But how do you change culture?
In my opinion, we must begin with male allyship. As many men who look like me are
in positions of power within the engineering profession, men like me must be part of
equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. We need to be allies of women and minorities, of
everyone who has not had the privileges that myself and men like me have long enjoyed.

So how do men like me become allies?
The first step is to understand yourself
and care enough to understand other
people by having an open, curious and
respectful mind about diverse identities.
I believe that the more people do that,
the more power imbalances will become
apparent and the more people will
become aware of the role they can play
as allies.
The second step of becoming an ally
is to take action. In our faculty, this
action has taken many forms. Aside
from holding our "Identity Dialogues,"
we're committing to a faculty task force
on EDI, and a student-led committee. As
I alluded to earlier we're also diversifying
our programming beyond women in
engineering. The most radical example
of this is a program we called Go ENG
Girl. A day originally designed to engage
only young girls in hands-on engineering
activities, Go ENG (as it's now called) will
now include all genders and begin with
a discussion of concepts of fairness and
equity in an effort to help these future
engineers to consider and reflect on how
privilege plays out in their daily lives,
group projects and student teams. We
hope that these efforts help us hit our
new and more complex diversity target:
the delivery of inclusive outreach and
educational experiences grounded in
cultural fluency and competency.
With leadership south of the
border from the National Academy of
Engineering and here in our own country
from The Ontario Society for Professional
Engineers, Engineers Canada, Engineers
Without Borders and others, I am hopeful
that other universities and corporations
will continue to prove that they see the
big picture. Gender is just one facet of
identity. Other facets like social class,
age, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity
play significant roles in determining
how we understand and experience the
world, as well as shaping the types of
opportunities and challenges we face. If
we in the engineering profession do not
acknowledge that - if we don't diversify
our understanding of diversity - we aren't
preparing students for the real world, and
we're not living in it either.
December 2017




Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of OSPE - The Voice - December 2017

Table of Contents
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OSPE - The Voice - December 2017 - Table of Contents
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OSPE - The Voice - December 2017 - Cover3
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