Random thoughts, curated sporadically.

Looking diverse

We often use the terms diversity and difference interchangeably as if they're essentially the same thing. But if we scratch the surface of what we mean by 'diversity', we're mostly wanting sameness in a new jacket. Company websites are rife with people who look diverse. Women are wearing hard hats leaning up against mining trucks, people who look Caucasian are hanging out with people who ... don't look Caucasian, and there are a lot of diverse-looking people pointing at walls of colored post-its making decisions together.

Alfred joined our team to head up operations. He was brilliant at his job and fun to be around. And he felt like one of us. He also happened to be from East Timor and he looked different. We loved him. But on reflection I realise that we mostly loved him not because he was different, but ultimately because he was pretty much the same. You see Alfred had a perfect Australian accent, he dressed 'like us' and thought 'like us'. And he enjoyed surfing down the coast on weekends with his mates from High School. He was quintessentially 'Australian'.

Ultimately he fit. He didn't flex.

But he did look different, so the photo of our team was aesthetically diverse.

Bias is picturing the person you wish to recruit. It’s the image you have in your head of what an individual should look like. And while we mostly think of these images as being a reflection of our bias for sameness, we rarely consider that we may now have a bias for looking diverse rather than being diverse. And that in doing so we overlook that which is sometimes more important than the differences we see in a photograph.

Looking diverse and being diverse like to hang out together but they're not the same thing.