"Tetris" or "Why we need diversity and inclusion"


Is D&I all the rage at your workplace? "Diversity and inclusion" is a recurring conversation in my HR network. It seems like more and more organization are finally realizing that diversity makes the workplace better (or at the very least, they know the appearance of diversity is good PR...)

But if you ever played Tetris, you already know that variety=success.

For all 3 of you unfamiliar with Tetris, which IGN ranked as #7 on their 100 Greatest Video Games of All Time, the object of the game is to continuously make horizontal lines out of a random assortment of shapes. When you make a horizontal line with no gaps, the line disappears. Clearing multiple lines at once yields more points. 


tetris 2.gif

In order to succeed in the game, you need every type of block. Your pile of blocks won't always look as neat and organized as that gif, by the way. Slip and place the block in the wrong spot (which happens to me every time I play), and you risk losing the game. Once your pile of blocks gets so high that it touches the top of the screen (and no other blocks can fall), you lose.

However, sometimes the wildest stacks and combinations can yield more points once you actually clear lines. It's possible to create order in apparent "chaos" in Tetris, if you're truly skilled at Tetris, that is.

I've been part of a few organizations, professional and volunteer, that were grappling with D&I to some degree. To do it right,not just hiring a few "tokens" and choosing those tokens to pose for company brochures, you have to do some messy work. It means holding intense conversations where everyone has to come to terms with their biases. That's not easy, because how many folks will admit their biases, let alone confront and try to change them? After all, many people think bias=prejudiced=mean person. And they're not mean! So of course they aren't prejudiced or biased...

But just as it takes more than one type of block to win at Tetris, a healthy organization thrives with different types of people. You can't be "innovative" or "think outside the box" if everyone thinks the same way. Besides, I have found that most people, or rather most people in my circle, like diversity. Only complete xenophobes dislike being surrounded by folks with different life experiences in backgrounds.

Being a truly diverse and inclusive organization takes work, but every group who has succeeded in their D&I can attest to the benefits of diversity not just to their public image, but their workplace culture.

What are some ideas you have for D&I initiatives at your organization?