How to really celebrate diversity in your business

, How to really celebrate diversity in your business
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How to really celebrate diversity in your business

4 experts explain how to go beyond lip service and create a truly inclusive workplace.

One organization says it “supports diversity”—but has a homogeneous staff.

One company claims it “enhances women” – but pays female leaders less.

We’ve all seen it before: businesses pay for the service ideas of diversity and inclusion, without really making a difference. Call it “pink wash” or “rainbow wash,” call it whatever you like. The problem is, it’s not good enough.

So how can you really celebrate diversity? And why is it a problem? We spoke to four business leaders about the value of diversity — and also got their tips for creating a vibrant and inclusive workplace.

Why is diversity important?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know diversity is important. But if you need the numbers behind the impact, consider McKinsey’s report on why diversity matters.

Among its most prominent are the following two figures:

  • When compared to national industry media, companies with the most racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to profit – and companies with the most gender diversity most likely higher than 15%.
  • For every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity among senior executives, corporate earnings increased by 0.8%.

Although the correlation is not equal in terms of causation, evidence suggests that companies that commit to diversity leadership are more successful.

“The more diverse companies, we believe, can attract top talent and improve customer orientation, employee satisfaction and decision making, and all of those things,” says McKinsey. that leads to the efficient cycle of increasing profits,” McKinsey said.

Agree is Stefan Kollenberg, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Crescendo, which provides a diverse and inclusive training tool. He cited McKinsey’s report and also provided further details in a recent chat.

“What really allows diverse workforces to thrive is when they feel accepted and valued at work,” he explains. “This feeling allows employees to share divergent – ​​and potentially conflicting – opinions, leading to better team problem solving, more innovative products, and greater profits.”

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Anuja Ketan is the co-founder and chief technology officer of NewtonX. Her company, an AI-powered expert knowledge platform, has embraced diversity since launch. She says mulling over diversity doesn’t work and highlights Uber and Tesla as cautionary tales.

“If you go through the hiring dynamics without emphasizing diversity, you’re going to reproduce the bias in your industry,” she says. And once your company grows, she notes that it can have a “serious impact on public perception” — which in turn affects your bottom line.

, How to really celebrate diversity in your business

Start with your team

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it all starts with your team. After all, they are the foundation for everything you do.

When Ketan founded NewtonX, she and her co-founders prioritized culture and tolerance. “My co-founders and I have seen a lot of tech companies go toxic because of early hiring of the wrong or biased people in the workplace,” she said. “We actively recruited our first 10 employees and emphasized cultural awareness and respect as a key component of cultural fit.”

While NewtonX has never had a specific quota to fill, she says that focusing on those core values ​​has allowed it to “naturally grow into a diverse, women-led company.” leader”.

Similarly, Crescendo puts a lot of emphasis on the wording and organization of its job listings. “We make sure our job postings use inclusive language and focus on the skill requirements of the role, rather than the specific qualifications or years of experience that are often barriers,” says Kollenberg. unnecessary barriers to applying”.

The company also shares its opportunities with many communities. “We wanted to avoid the bias of only hiring from our direct network,” explains Kollenberg. “And focus on meeting people where they are.”

Andres Zapata, co-founder of integrated marketing company idfive, takes a more laid-back approach: Hire the best people. Stage = Stage.

“When you are open to it all, amazing things happen, especially because nothing is forced,” says Zapata. “It is natural. We have women in leadership roles, some non-native leaders, including our top peers, and a wide range of cultural, ethnic and racial diversity. in our ranks. And they are all seriously talented people. ”

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, How to really celebrate diversity in your business

Nurturing Diverse Leaders

If you want diverse leadership, Ketan says you have to be conscious of who you’re hiring for each position. She notes that, while many companies say they are “50% women,” their management is not.

To combat this, NewtonX worked from the outset to recruit women for leadership roles, and then created “a transparent path to becoming a manager.”

Today, women hold more than half of NewtonX’s leadership positions.

“Be proactive and purposeful in recruiting women and minorities for leadership positions and focus on technology,” says Ketan. “Culture comes from the top and it’s important to live up to the values ​​you love.”

, How to really celebrate diversity in your business

Get everyone involved in the process

Your employees are your most valuable asset. That’s why Kollenberg says it’s absolutely important to understand what they want and to maintain open lines of communication.

“Feedback is incredibly important,” he said. “When starting out, there will be mistakes and you need to be willing to learn from your employees.”

Melisa Yatman, Fundbox Senior HR Business Partner, agrees.

“Here at Fundbox,” says Yatman, “we really take employee feedback seriously. We are currently working on implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Program at the company. We listen and care about the people we work with, and the employees clearly value inclusion, so we made this a top priority.”

To capture the needs of your team, here’s what Kollenberg recommends: “Start questioning diversity and inclusion one by one, discuss openly in forums, and create avenues to receive feedback. From there, you will identify which areas of your business need the most work, and you can find solutions to those problems.”

While you may not have an official Diversity and Inclusion program yet, there are ways to get support and feedback from your team. Here are some unique initiatives that Zapata’s company idfive has introduced:

  • Hold cooking sessions where team members share “foods inspired by their ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.”
  • Allow employees to suggest where to volunteer for the company’s annual “Giving Day”. (This year, it was the International Commission for Refugees – a pitch from an employee who was an Iraqi political refugee.)
  • Donate all profits from the company’s vending machines to a charity chosen by the team.
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, How to really celebrate diversity in your business

It’s okay to start small

To create a diverse culture, your efforts need not be overwhelming or expensive. You simply need to view business decisions through a holistic lens.

For example, idfive offers floating holidays so team members can take paid leave on dates important to their own religion and culture.

At Crescendo, all employees list their pronouns in bios on Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc., as part of the company’s effort to normalize behavior.

And NewtonX has a “zero tolerance” policy for racist or sexist comments — even those meant as a joke. “We believe that ensuring employees feel comfortable, respected and valued in the workplace is an important factor in encouraging top performance,” says Ketan. The company also outlines the agenda of every meeting in advance, which allows “content to prevail over personality.”

Intentional

Do you see a common theme here? To integrate diversity into the fabric of the workplace, you don’t need a magic wand or specialized knowledge. To be successful, you need to be open, purposeful, and proactive with your efforts.

“To go beyond coding, your company leadership needs to do two main things: value diversity and inclusion, and actively solicit feedback,” says Kollenberg. “When employees see leadership committed to putting in the time and effort to improve their own behavior and make processes in the company more inclusive, it lays a solid foundation for everything.” is different”.

Yatman points out that being intentional about diversity can help a company achieve business success later in life.

“It’s not like an early-stage company like Fundbox is focused on diversity initiatives, but we believe the right time to tackle them is early,” Yatman said. “We want to lead and align our culture and business with our core values ​​while maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment.”

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