How to Improve Diversity in the Workplace

Launching or expanding a diversity hiring program to improve diversity in the workplace is a top hiring initiative for employers in 2021. This change can’t come soon enough.

Currently, there are 3 Black CEOs heading Fortune 500 companies, all men. White men make up 85% of “high-paying boardroom positions while representing only 38% of the U.S. workforce.” A 2020 survey found a “leaky pipeline” for women where they make up 47% of support staff, but only 23% of executives. With numbers like these, it’s clear that we have work to do when it comes to diversity in the workplace.

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How to Improve Diversity in the Workplace

Make It Personal

The most lasting changes are ones that are personally motivated. Take a cue from Walmart’s CEO who invested in personal learning and development before turning that education to his company. Educate yourself and analyze your own journey to valuing diversity before taking that education and values to your team.

When you’ve already started to put in the work, you’ll be better able to prove to your teams that this is something that is important to the company as a whole.

Examine Your Own Biases

In your personal learning, make sure you are questioning your own biases…even if you think you don’t have them. The fact of the matter is that everyone has biases. Kristen Pressner, a Global Head of Human Resources, evaluated her own biases against women in leadership in a 2016 TED talk that still strikes a chord today.

No one expects people to be completely unbiased, but you need to make an effort to recognize and actively fight against your harmful biases.

Audit Your Company Culture

Look at your team, office, and company and ask: Why are we the way we are? 

What sort of shared or diverse experiences already exist on your team? This is also a great time to talk to individuals and ask them about their lived experiences because everyone has different experiences and each one contributes to the company culture.

Get Transparent and Invest in Internal Communications

It’s about to get a little bit uncomfortable. If you’re committed to being an inclusive environment and creating a more diverse workplace, you need to be transparent about uncomfortable topics, like pay equity and management opportunities. 

You can post your positions with the average compensation rate and share what it takes to be a top-earner for each position. Publicly sharing this information means that everyone is always privy to the same information.

Every person at the company should be aware of what it takes to grow in their role. Publicly sharing growth opportunities and the steps they require will ensure that opportunity is equitable and available to everyone.

Foster Accountability

Whether you share goals publicly like Google did or you share them amongst your team, you need to foster accountability. How are you being held accountable to improving diversity?

Whether it’s goal setting or metric tracking, every single person should be held accountable to improving diversity.

Words Matter

One of the quickest ways you can improve diversity is by changing the language in your job postings. Instead of “he or she,” write “they.” Gender-inclusive language is a quick change that will have a seriously massive impact on the applicants that are comfortable applying. 

Beyond gender-inclusive language you can also question the connotations of the descriptive words that you use. Every word in the English language has a particular connotation and oftentimes particular genders are aligned with those connotations, i.e. dedicated and powerful are seen as male descriptors, while caring and gentle are seen as female descriptors. 

Do your best to avoid acronyms or jargon that can alienate people from a conversation.

If you’re unsure of what sort of words or language to use, there’s nothing wrong with researching it yourself or asking for help.

It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

Cliche phrasing aside, it’s true. Improving diversity isn’t something to check off your to-do list it’s an ongoing growth process. Build trust amongst your team by being open about where you have failed and clear about the steps the company is taking to do better.

Don't stop now. Keep reading!

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