Companies large and small are failing at diversity and inclusion. Chances are, your company may be missing the mark too. To successfully increase diversity in your company, you can’t just blindly make recruiting and promotion decisions – you need a strategy.
With the help of workplace expert and former Director of the Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH), Phyllis Cheng, and peer mentoring expert and co-founder of Glassbreakers, Eileen Carey, here is a 4-step strategy to help you create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
1. You need to understand your metrics.
You can’t grow the diversity in your company if you don’t know how you’re doing. Would you run a sales organization without ever looking at your numbers? Of course not. To move the needle on diversity and inclusion, you need to track what you are doing and how you are doing it so you can measure growth.
While you need to be careful how you request and track data, you can gain visibility into the diversity of your company by taking a look at the following:
- Resumes received
- Interviews granted
- Job offers extended
- Hires made
- Promotions and career development
It’s also important that you track this information across each business function, job family, and office/region to ensure that your workforce is representative of the relevant community. It’s only when you have visibility to your numbers that you can actually start to improve them.
In doing this, you are tracking what’s valued by your business. The exercise of tracking the numbers, by itself, helps you raise awareness to the issue and communicates the importance of diversity to your workforce.
2. Train people to become more aware of their biases so they can start to counterbalance them and make better decisions.
A bias is a preference and mental shortcut that impairs rational judgment.
Bias is a natural part of human nature. We tend to generally associate with people who are like us. However, this behavior becomes problematic in the workplace when we fail to recognize and adjust our own biases, whether conscious or not.
To minimize bias in the workplace, it’s important to educate your employees to understand and acknowledge their own biases. Create an open dialog for employees to openly discuss bias and learn how to recognize when it is affecting workplace decisions.
Phyllis Cheng (workplace expert and former Dir. of the DFEH) recommends a communication campaign with “consistent messaging that helps raise everyone's awareness about unconscious biases that can affect our conduct. Letting everyone know that we all have unconscious biases, acknowledging them, and showing how they can impact the workplace starts the process of minimizing its negative impact on the workplace are ways to start that safe, informal discussion.”
3. You need to foster a supportive environment with opportunities for coaching and mentoring.
You are where you are today, in part, because you got some help along the way. Someone may have introduced you to a promising professional connection, helped you develop your career skills, or given you ideas on how to get ahead in your career.
Why should you care about mentors?
- Mentors provide a career playbook and expedite development
- Mentors open doors
- Mentors add credibility and personal branding
- Mentors increase odds for success
But not everyone has access to this kind of support. Eileen Carey, peer mentoring expert and co-founder of Glassbreakers, is looking to increase opportunities through peer mentorships.
"The traditional mentorship program was established by men and was hierarchical — mentor, mentee — and when you look at the workforce, there are way too many mentees and not enough mentors. Peer mentorship allows you to have multiple mentors and support each other as you come up."
In fact, Carey said that since Glassbreakers is based on a peer mentorship model, as opposed to a formal program, there's no limit to the amount mentors a female professional can have.
With professional and/or peer support, young professionals will have increased opportunities to succeed.
4. You need to create an HR system that helps minimize the bias in management’s decision-making.
Just like you would audit the financials of a business, you need to audit and assess the judgments being made at your organization and how those judgments are impacting the opportunities for people in the minority.
Phyllis Cheng notes that “an efficient way to screen out bias is to have a second and/or third person weigh in on management decisions such as interviewing, hiring, career development and discipline/termination. Audits can help discover problems and identify where bias may be negatively impacting the workplace.”
Executive teams are increasingly recognizing the social demand for increased diversity and inclusion. In order to minimize bias and move the needle on increasing diversity in the workplace, here are the steps, in short:
- Start with your metrics
- Start a dialogue and raise awareness
- Facilitate a supportive environment with coaching and mentoring
- Conduct audits and build a framework that screens out the bias in management decisions
Take these four steps and make them work for you. Once you know the data in your organization’s hiring and promotion efforts, you’re empowered to make the right decisions and create a more diverse and level playing field. Remember, each person’s diverse attributes bring you that much closer to seeing all sides of the business puzzle.