Some of the world’s most admired companies also are the most diverse. By committing to diversity, equity and inclusion, these businesses leverage a rich tapestry of backgrounds to create superior products. So, what do the best organizations do to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace?
Start at the Top
Many companies realize they need to address diversity, equity and inclusion, and their quick-fix solution is to hire a DE&I manager. Although Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leaders certainly have a place in the process, used in isolation, this tactic won’t work. The best organizations recognize initiatives must be supported by a business-wide infrastructure not by a single person. And this begins at the top. When upper-level managers and CEOs encourage efforts, commit to programs and model desired behaviors, everyone else follows their lead.
Embrace the Benefits
DE&I isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a smart business tactic. Ongoing research from McKinsey & Company supports this claim. For example, their latest report shows “the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time.” Other studies have linked diversity, equity and inclusion to higher employee engagement, lower turnover and more innovative product lines. As a result, the best organizations don’t embrace diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives because they think they should. Instead, they KNOW these programs benefit their company.
Accept People as They Are
The events of the last year have reaffirmed the immorality of discriminating against people because of race, gender, or sexual orientation. However, what if someone has different political beliefs than you? Top DE&I organizations take inclusion to the next level. They realize every employee brings a unique point of view that goes beyond basic characteristics and values. Individual workers shouldn’t need to hide who they are simply because some of their colleagues don’t share their perspectives. This underlying tolerance for everyone is non-negotiable.
Top companies acknowledge where they stand with their diversity, equity, and inclusion education efforts. They’ve gone through the process of asking tough questions. “Where are we today?”, “What practices have led to the status quo?” and “What needs to be changed?” Even America’s Best Employers for Diversity understand there’s always work to be done. Being aware of their current strengths and shortcomings allows them to continue to improve their programs.
Once the top organizations establish their current DE&I progress, they ask, “Where do we want to go?” Rather than giving vague benchmarks such as “increase the diversity of our staff,” they set specific goals. For instance, “Increase the number of women and minorities in supervisory roles by 20% in the next three years.” Or “Thoroughly examine pay rates from the last ten years to identify potential inequalities by June 30th.” These clearly defined objectives assist in guiding their path.
Design Meaningful Programs
Of course, goals alone aren’t enough. The best diversity, equity and inclusion-driven companies also must map out how to reach their objectives. Training of current employees is a wonderful place to start. Training programs can build awareness and bring meaningful conversations out into the open. Nevertheless, this is only part of the equation. Other initiatives may include a revising hiring practices, overhauling outdated traditions and/or restructuring working spaces. It’s important to set aside funding for these efforts too.
When companies have a diverse group of employees, there’s a good chance they all think quite differently. Therefore, top diversity, equity and inclusion strategies recognize communication is key. To successfully apply different ideas, suggestions and solutions, everyone must learn how to speak up, listen and explain themselves. Modeling, training and open dialogue help to create an environment where everyone is respected and heard.
In many cases, smarter hiring is the first step to achieving greater diversity, equity and inclusion. The best companies analyze and often reinvent their practices. Top businesses work toward expanding their recruiting efforts through extensive networking, upskilling initiatives and market presence. These organizations carefully consider their entire hiring processes as well. Practices like blind resume reviews, unbiasing training and experiential interviews can all assist in creating better outcomes.
Ask for Feedback
Even if DE&I efforts seem to be going well, this may not necessarily be true. The best companies regularly check in with their team. This can be accomplished through casual conversations, scheduled one-on-one meetings and/or anonymous surveys. Discovering how employees feel is one of the truest measures of the success of diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
And finally, the best companies know there’s no finish line. DE&I initiatives are never done. This is an ongoing process, and sometimes it will be more successful than other times. Regardless, the goal is to push forward in the right direction for the benefit of everyone involved.
Is Your Organization Hoping to Create Better a DE&I Program?