Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is at the top of nearly every HR leader’s mind. But many struggle to make a difference.
In fact, gender and ethnic diversity in leadership rose less than 5% in a five year span, according to McKinsey & Company researchers who kept close tabs on it across companies and continents.
Yet, it’s so important: Diverse and inclusive companies perform better than those that aren’t. McKinsey also found companies with the highest gender, racial and ethnic diversity financially perform as much as 35% better than similar companies.
“We have to intentionally and thoughtfully work on creating a community, a culture and an organization where everybody feels seen, valued and heard,” says Shelly McNamara, head of equality and inclusion at Procter & Gamble in the Harvard Business Review Ideacast.
Here are seven ways to make those good intentions for diversity and inclusion the reality at your organization.
Set goals and ways to measure them
You know what gets measured gets done. So you want to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for every aspect of your D&I efforts.
Some common goals:
- Representation. Can you compare how different groups are represented in terms of market or industry demographics? Then you can set KPIs to improve representation by job level, role or in general.
- Talent acquisition. Look to set sourcing, connecting or interviewing goals to reach and hire more people from underrepresented groups.
- Retention. Compare the average employee tenure by demographic to determine who stays. More importantly, look at exit survey data to find out why they stay or go. Set new goals for retention based on what you find.
- Promotions. Consider job level and promotion rate by demographic and tenure. What KPIs can you reset so underrepresented groups excel?
Get serious about goals
Setting D&I goals is just a step. You’ll want to involve leaders throughout the organization in planning and implementing plans to get there.
For instance, Proctor & Gamble aspires to have 40% of its workforce in the U.S. represented by multi-cultural employees (such as African American, Asian pacific, Hispanic, Native American). They drill that down through business units, working with leaders to make it happen. They also aim to have equal gender representation across all levels within the organization. Even more today, they are working to increase diversity through LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and gender groups worldwide.
“You have to be clear on the outcomes you want, (remembering) equality is the experience of being equal. Inclusion is the feeling of belonging,” McNamara says.
Focus on hiring practices
For many companies, the first step to increasing D&I will be to hire a more diverse staff. To do that, you want to remove any bias in the process.
Three best practices:
- Tweak job descriptions. Focus more on outcomes, must-have and nice-to-have qualifications, less on experience and background. Remove gender-related language.
- Review resumes blindly. Remove names, schools, addresses and anything else that might give way to gender, age, ethnic background, etc. Just recently LinkedIn added a “hide names and photos” feature to further help hiring managers avoid bias in hiring.
- Structure interviews. Ask each candidate for an open position the exact same questions so you can compare them all objectively.
Recruit for ‘culture add-on’
While it’s important to focus on how you can improve D&I in your current workplace, you want to consider the future of work. Many companies are influx, shifting between fully remote and hybrid.
That kind of work allows you to widen the recruiting net to larger geographic areas, cultures and populations.
That is perfect for adding more diversity. So if you’ve hired for culture fit in the past, try this approach now: Hire for what LaFawn Davis, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Indeed, calls “culture add-on.” Those are candidates who will bring new, fresh and different ideas and experiences to your team. They aren’t exactly like others in your organization – which increases diversity – so they’re more likely to add something you don’t have.
Give champions the torch
Some leaders understand the relevance of D&I in your workplace and its impact on business growth more than others. They’re your “change agents,” McNamara says.
You can likely count on them to champion efforts and work harder to increase diversity and inclusion through hiring, retention and equality efforts.
Consider who’s most interested in your data and moving the needle. Then work with them to steer strategic growth around diversity and inclusion. They can help set the bar on:
- expectations. Build a clear vision of what leaders are expected to know and do about equality and inclusion
- accountability. Create mechanisms, systems and rituals to hold all leaders accountable for hiring, performance and culture, and
- capability. Train leaders to understand and see biases and correct for them.
Lean on ERGs
If you have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), you have D&I insight at your fingertips.
“That’s where people start talking about what’s important to them,” said Zeno Peterson-Scott, Lead Trainer with G.E.T. Phluid and The Phluid Project, at the Spring Health webinar, “Beyond the Binary: Honoring Gender Expansive Communities at Work.”
Whether your ERGs are company initiated and financed or employee driven, you likely have diverse, often underrepresented, groups with engaging insight that can help leaders expand D&I efforts.
You can also lean on champions and ERGs to help take bias out of benefits and build a more inclusive package.
When you do an annual retooling of benefits, look for areas where they are exclusive by nature. For instance, is healthcare geared mostly toward traditional families? Are Christian holidays the only days off?
To be more inclusive, try to:
- Give floating holidays so people can celebrate what’s meaningful to them
- Choose healthcare options to include benefits that support those in the LGBTQ+ community, and
- Offer flexible schedules so people can more easily handle their work/life balance.