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Quick decision making is the enemy of DEI

by | Oct 15, 2021 | DEI, Employee Experience (EX)

In today’s business world, we often regard quick decision making as a first-prized skill, and we commend our leaders on being able to act fast and make those calls in a heartbeat. What if I told you that quick decision making is actually the opposite of what we need to do to foster natural diversity, equity and inclusion in our companies?

Quick decision making can contradict our efforts towards diversity by shutting down others and their ideas in the interests of acting fast.

Quick decisions lack cognitive diversity

When we think of diversity, people naturally think of ethnic and racial diversity, but there is a different type of diversity that is less commonly addressed, and that is a diversity of thought. We know that diverse teams perform better, and one of the reasons for doing so is because they exhibit a variety of views and opinions, which, in the right environment, allows teams to test various hypotheses and come up with the best route forward which leads to better outcomes.

When people make decisions quickly, they generally rely on their own assumptions to power those decisions, as speedy decision making doesn’t allow the time to share and probe these assumptions or test their validity.

Quick decisions can be less fair

Equity is the quality of being fair and impartial. People can be mindful of fairness and impartiality; however, the human brain can’t navigate its own biases, no matter how conscious we are and deliberate our decision making is. The way towards fairness and impartiality, which may be a myth when it comes to decision making, is to bring on various diverse viewpoints to counter the effects of our own bias. Decisions made quickly fail to bring on multiple perspectives, so they cannot be truly equitable.

Quick decisions don’t usually involve others

For a decision to be as swift as possible, there needs to be fewer people involved for practical reasons. As we know, involving others is the core of inclusivity, so it follows that quick decisions are also non-inclusive decisions.

So, what can we do about it?

The solution to incorporating true diversity, equity and inclusivity into our decisions making is first about letting go of the notion that fast decisions are good decisions. The next step involves allowing time for conversations to happen with diverse participants and being open to having our assumptions and viewpoints challenged in the interests of growth and refinement.

Slowing down has been one of the most challenging things for me to learn, and I would love to know what you think about introducing cognitive diversity to our decision making.

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