Emtrain Blog

Diversity in the Workplace: How to Create a Level Playing Field

Posted by Phyllis Cheng

May 1, 2015

How to Increase Diversity and Close the Gender Pay GapMaintaining a level playing field in any organization has never been more important. Whether your company intends to hire more employees who are female, of color, or with disabilities, giving everyone the same chance to succeed is critical. Read on for strategies on how to recruit a diverse team and maintain a level playing field.

Smart Recruiting 
To increase diversity in the workplace and close the gender gap, you need smart recruiting.To gain the benefits of having a diverse workforce, ensure your hiring process includes consideration of individuals from different backgrounds than your own.

Google recently shared tactics for successfully recruiting more women, which means including women in making employment decisions. People tend to surround themselves with others of a similar background, so in a male-dominated workplace having women participate in hiring at every level of leadership is a good way to bridge the gender pay gap. The same principle applies for hiring racial/ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, of different age groups, and varying LGBT identities. Ideally, hiring managers should be able to eliminate bias on their own, but that does not always happen.

Most people feel comfortable working and socializing with people who are like themselves—that is human nature. However, during the hiring process, it is important to acknowledge this tendency and work to keep an open mind. Even if the business does not have the staff to include diverse individuals in the interview process, the goal of maintaining a diversity of perspective is essential.

Mentoring and Support
Once new hires are made, retaining talent is critical. If employees do not feel supported or included, they will find new workplaces where they feel more comfortable. To avoid the possibility of a mass exodus, provide mentoring and leadership guidance that encourage employees to scale the leadership pipeline. Mentoring and career development opportunities should be equally available and widespread to anyone interested advancing.

How to Stop Workplace Bias

Level the Playing Field
Finally, put protocols in place to ensure the company is systematically creating and maintaining a level playing field. Here are some recommendations:

• Document and systemize development opportunities. In order for everyone to access the same opportunities, a system of talent management, often available with current software, is necessary. This way, the business can track career opportunities to ensure that everyone has equal access to career advancement opportunities.  

Document promotional decisions and include stakeholders. Ensuring that a diverse group weighs in on promotional decisions promotes fairness. Decision-making should be documented objectively and in detail with specific examples provided for the outcomes, not just conclusions or generalizations about the employee’s work performance and/or personality.

Implement and document a fair compensation policy. With the advanced tools available today, a compensation policy that consistently applies to everyone in the organization supports the compensation structure. Benchmarking services like salary.com can establish a range for jobs so that only objective factors (such as experience and performance) would modify employees' compensation.

Schedule regular audits by a third party. To keep the company consistent with its own career development, promotions, hiring, and compensation benchmarks, using a third party expert can help identify blind spots and recommend adjustments, if necessary.

Creating and retaining a diverse workforce is a two-step process. To create a diverse workforce, diverse perspectives should be included in the hiring process. To retain talent, work to make sure all employees and applicants have equal access to the same career opportunities. Establishing a smart hiring process, using talent management software, and contracting for third party workplace consultants can ease the way. A diverse workplace where everyone is afforded the same chance to succeed will ultimately create a more successful and balanced workforce.   


Phyllis_Cheng  Phyllis Cheng            

Phyllis is an employment law expert and a partner at DLA Piper, the largest global law firm. Before joining DLA Piper, Phyllis was the Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the largest state civil rights agency in the United States. During her nearly seven-year tenure at DFEH, the agency took in 140,000 complaints and prosecuted between 400-500 cases, including several class complaints. 


Do you have a question for Phyllis Cheng? Leave a comment or email her at experts@emtrain.com.

Topics: HR Compliance, Talent Management, Hiring Skills, diversity