Optimizing Your Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Dylan Blatt on 20 September 2018

Investing in the workplace culture and environment has become an increasing area of focus for companies of all sizes across every industry.  This post explores research and findings on this topic from sources such as Managed by Q and Project Include, along with information supplied by various sources we cite here at Goodly.

This shift to focusing on culture often falls right in line with the recent emphasis many employers are putting on programs to foster diversity and inclusion. As more employers encourage employees from all backgrounds and stages to join their team, there is more that needs to be done when designing a company’s culture and workplace to enable all employees to be confident in their work.

Efforts towards fostering a diverse employee population have proven to result in a positive ROI.  It has been connected to growth in retention and employee satisfaction.  As a study by McKinsey showed that diverse companies outperform those who are less diverse by an average of 35%. 

Yet even with proven research out there, the lack of diversity in many current employee populations still demonstrate the challenges of implementing a program to enable diverse hiring.

With African Americans holding on average 31% more student debt, LGBTQ holding on average 17% more student debt, and women holding 66% of all student debt, Goodly’s student loan repayment system can help companies achieve their goals surrounding diversity.

It starts with honest conversation:

Addressing diversity begins with a complete and unbiased assessment of where one's company is at in terms of enabling a diverse employee population.  Many times a company that thinks they have been doing enough to encourage diversity actually have not come close. While companies that realize this is no simple feat, often aware they are struggling, typically have a much better understanding of where they are in the process and where their issues lie, according to Ellen Pao, founder of Project Include which is an “open community working toward providing meaningful diversity and inclusion solutions for tech companies.”

 

Employers must learn how to talk about inclusion more openly, becoming comfortable with the fact some topics are very uncomfortable. Too often the efforts being made, while checking the boxes of having a program in place, are not actually solving the problem.  Empowering employees to speak up about issues they see within their own company is a crucial, and often overlooked, step in assuring a positive and diverse company culture.

A framework for implementing change:

Many times the issue is not acknowledging that there is an existing issue, rather the issue arises when it comes times take action, and nothing is put into place.  Thus the question arises what is and isn’t enough action?  And what is the proper action?

While any effort to improve inclusion is better than none, one of the large mistakes a company can make is approaching the task with the mindset that there is a one-step solution.  Because there is no one thing that can drive change, fostering diversity and inclusion requires constant and evolving efforts to meet the needs of your employee population.

These efforst must:

  1. Include all stakeholders, including suppliers, employees, and customers.
  2. Extend to all company activities
  3. Iterate on measurable goals and actionable insights drawn from company efforts
  4. Ask, then listen.
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