By Randi Bryant
The business case for diversity and inclusion (D&I) is stronger than ever, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — perhaps one of the greatest leadership tests executives will face in their careers. Recently, McKinsey found companies that welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger and identified D&I as a powerful enabler of business performance.
For two decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with schools, startups, government agencies, and leading companies to create and execute plans that foster diverse and inclusive environments. During this time, I’ve developed several D&I workplace strategies, both spearheaded by executives and employee-led, that positively impacted organisational culture and have since been woven into company fabric. From both my professional experience and passion for this incredibly important field, here are my top tips for tackling workplace D&I head-on.
So what is diversity in the workplace? Defining diversity will enable you to evaluate where your organisation may be overrepresented and which areas need attention. Workplace diversity is the idea that your employees reflect the general makeup of society. Your workforce should consist of a variety of people, from different backgrounds, with different experiences, and a range of characteristics. This may include but is not limited to; gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and education.
Conduct a Climate Survey
Climate surveys are a helpful tool to better understand how employees feel and what they need from their employer. Used in collaboration with demographic data, employee responses can provide critical information about the state of D&I, how current D&I measures are perceived, and the signals your organisation is sending. Anonymous surveys may encourage employees to share honest feedback and enable organisations to ‘take the temperature’ of the workplace to better understand the performance of current D&I strategies. Survey data and responses should be used to make informed decisions that improve the work climate and foster D&I.
Establish Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
First created in the 1960s by former Xerox CEO Joseph Wilson, ERGs help companies to flourish by fostering high-trust relationships and a sense of belonging, inspiring conversation, and encouraging new ways to tackle issues and drive innovation.
Catalyst defines ERGs as voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organisational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. ERGs are a powerful tool to ensure that all employees, regardless of role or demographic, can succeed. Today, many companies continue to experience the effectiveness of employing ERGs, including Freshworks, EY, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and KPMG.
Diversify Your Recruitment Strategy
Building a workforce of qualified candidates regardless of gender, background, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. not only aids business results and performance ut is a long-overdue step towards equality in the workplace.
Having a team with different perspectives and backgrounds encourages diversity of thought and drives innovation. To achieve diversity in the workplace, your organisations’ recruitment strategy must reflect the end goal. The hiring process must be merit-based, free from bias, and structured to give all applicants, regardless of background, an equal opportunity.
We know that employees who feel they can be themselves at work report being happier, more productive, and more engaged and that workers are empowered to experiment and innovate when they feel their unique contributions are valued. This, combined with the robust business case for strengthening and fostering D&I, should encourage companies to pay greater attention to and prioritise D&I.
The Carousel would like to thank Randi Bryant, Freshworks’ Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, for her story.