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Four Ways Your Organization Can Step Up its Diversity and Inclusion

Four Ways Your Organization Can Step Up its Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of every leader’s mind. CEOs are strategically planning how to readily integrate campaigns and metrics to increase diversity in the ranks of organizational leadership and make employees feel included within the workplace.

COVID-19 disproportionately impacted groups from diverse backgrounds, highlighting the responsibilities needed to focus more intently on people and source diverse talent as the economy recovers. The business case for diversity remains strong – as shown in this piece by McKinsey and Company.

Having both gender and ethnic diversity makes a large difference in financial performance. Companies that are looking to expand into new markets, increase innovation, and gain a competitive edge in their industry cannot afford to ignore the research on diversity and inclusion within the workforce.

Here are four ways to step up D&I in the workplace.

[Related: Why Nasdaq's Diversity Push Matters]

1) Leadership should be leading the charge.

With clear intentions and a metric-driven approach, companies should be placing their core-business leaders and top managers at the helm of the inclusion and diversity effort. D&I cannot be confined to the tasks of the HR function or employee resource groups.

In addition, these functions should be well equipped with resources (technologies), talent, and partnerships to increase capabilities and strengthen real efforts for change. Executives, especially, should be held accountable and provide transparent results and efforts. Stronger D&I implemented within the core business strategy will produce a stronger company.

2) Increase innovation and decision-making by ensuring a diverse employee pool.

Ethnically diverse companies are 36% more likely to outperform less diverse organizations. Having diverse teams introduces varying thought processes, perspectives, and ideas. This variation can lead to a dramatic improvement in innovation and more improved group thinking.

In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have a woman on the board.

[Related: Achieving Workplace Inclusion: Three Steps Toward a Sustainable Organization]

3) Actively root out bias from the process of collecting performance reviews and how they are delivered.

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, there are four main biases that are actively deterring great diversity candidates from rising through the corporate ranks. These include:

  1. Prove it again mentality: “Groups stereotyped as less competent — including women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, older employees, LGBT+, and professionals from blue-collar backgrounds — have to prove themselves over and over again.”
  2. The tightrope: A set of narrower workplace behaviors is accepted from women and people of color.
  3. The maternal wall: Assumptions that mothers are no longer committed to their career.
  4. Racial stereotypes: Such as, "Asian Americans are great at technical tasks but lack leadership quality."

Knowing that these are the top biases that affect performance reviews, leadership should take action to find innovative ways to avoid these biases.

4) Provide equal opportunity for fairness and transparency.

Companies must not only announce that they are improving their diversity and inclusion programs and set goals, but work toward implementation and progress tracking. This openness toward progress within and outside the company helps advance toward a level playing field in advancement and opportunity.

There should be adequate tools, promotions, rewards, and criteria that help employees understand how they can get from A to B, advancing toward a true meritocracy. This could be done in a variety of ways, including setting clear actionable goals that set employees up for the promotion track, which allows candidates to recognize the mandates that are important to the management team and position themselves more accurately for their future roles.

We cannot allow diversity and inclusion to be merely buzzwords around the corporate ecosystems. We need lasting change, and market leaders have the ability and resources to bring real results in diversity leadership and inclusion efforts.

With the help of the right technology tools and partnerships, companies can make leaps and bounds in terms of improving employee morale and company culture. D&I initiatives are thankfully here to stay, and companies will only experience the upside from their efforts.

[Related: How Men Benefit from Close Relationships with Women at Work]

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Brenda Pak is a cofounder and CEO of BackPac Social Activism, a multifaceted social activist platform used to connect people to opportunities to change the world. She is passionate about teaming up with Millennials and Gen Z’ers to engage with their cities and move the needle in creating positive, social impact. She formerly has held positions at the United Nations and Fortune 500 companies in investment banking and management consulting.


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