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Forecasting the Future of Work

Podcast Sponsored by: QuantumWork Advisory

According to McKinsey, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation. As a result, up to 25% more workers than previously estimated could potentially need to switch occupations. Both employees and leaders are being driven to upskill. A recent study from the Sloan Management Review found that only 7% of respondents were led by digitally competent teams. So what does the future of work hold? How can we ensure that we’re prepared for it?

Our Guest: Mark Condon

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Mark Condon, managing partner and founder of QuantumWork Advisory. He is a pioneer in the talent and workforce sector with over 20 years of global experience with both startups and multinationals.

There are maturity traits found in good digital leadership. Mark explains:

Leaders need to engage and protect their organization. When developing new business models, those need to be protected from the broader business. Another is the culture of inquisitiveness and trust, but you have to balance it with rigor. You want your organization to be curious, to have an exploration culture, and one where no one gets fired for experimenting, but you also need the discipline behind that.

Young Leaders in the Digital Age

Companies are balancing the use of technology implemented and used by people. So when we talk about young leaders, what are they facing when it comes to leading in the digital age? Mark:

It’s confusing out there. There are so many great technologies that appear to be wonderful in their own right. But there’s a problem in that digital transformation is really about technology. The technology in a lab looks wonderful, but we have to use it in our businesses. And our businesses are full of people, policies, and processes, which may not help the technology work. So how to make the tech work in practice is a people-centric issue.

Mark also explains:

People used to choose technology on the basis of functionality, but without it being a great user experience, it’s kind of a waste of time. People need to be able to want to use that technology and it has to be easy to use.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – The Role of Technology

Technology plays a significant role in DEI and talent acquisition and retention strategies. Mark confirms:

This is a huge topic. Around 2020, about $50 billion was going to be spent on the DEI tech vendor space and would grow to around $110 billion by 2024. This is a massive investment.

Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. 

AI is a great enabler of matching, but it also can have a dark side in that if it’s not fed the right data, it can actually make the bias worse. So the problem with AI is it can make things a lot more efficient, but it also can magnify the problem.

The Gig Economy

With the rise of the gig economy, remote work, and flexible work arrangements, the future of work has taken a fork in the road. So where are we going with all this? Mark explains:

A lot of people suffered burnout through COVID, and this is continuing. The burnout rate has been quite damaging for people. People have had enough. I think they’re asking themselves, “Why am I working so hard.” I think a few people are getting off the merry-go-round, not to say all, but I think some are, certainly.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about QuantumWork Advisory and digital transformation in the field of talent and workforce strategy and delivery, please visit https://www.quantum.work/advisory.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Women in the Workplace: How to Retain Female Talent

Millions of Americans have left the workforce due to the ongoing public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has particularly impacted female employees who had to become the primary caretakers of their children when schools and daycares closed. As a result, many women had to leave their jobs, and companies lost some of their most outstanding employees. Now companies need to spend time deciding how they can better accommodate, empower, and retain female talent with children.

I am a life coach, helping ambitious working moms become their best selves every day. Part of this is educating companies on how to better support women in the workplace, especially those with children. Using valuable insights from my clients and my own experience as a working mom, I’ve put together five suggestions for companies on how to retain female talent, both pre and postpartum.

Find Out How You Can Support Women in the Workplace

Administering a survey is one of the best ways to determine your company’s ability to hire and retain working moms. Ask open-ended questions so you can find out more about the challenges female employees face and which are the most important. If possible, allow them to give their opinion anonymously to share their feelings without worrying about retribution.

Revamp Your Company Policies & Benefits 

Once you’ve reviewed the survey, you’ll better understand the company policies and benefits that need revamping. For example, do the majority of female employees want paternity leave or extended maternity leave? Or perhaps they would prefer a more flexible work schedule? The company can also assess its employee performance evaluations, possibly changing from time-oriented to task-oriented. 

Whether female talent want to feel more involved during meetings or expectant moms require a designated parking spot, companies should accommodate the needs of women in the workplace. Listening to your female employees, and implementing change, can make it easier to retain talented pre and postpartum female employees. In doing so, you’ll not only improve your business, but women in the workplace are more likely to feel heard and acknowledged.

Start a Mentorship Program 

A study published by McKinsey, titled ‘Women in the Workplace 2020’, reveals that women may face significant roadblocks without the right mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. For example, a sponsor can amplify the voice of lower-level female talent, while a mentor can help guide women towards their career goals.

An official company mentor program is an excellent way for you to capitalize on your most fantastic resource, your employees. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing employees the opportunity to learn from a trusted advisor. Retaining female talent is far more likely for those companies who actively invest in their professional development. Women in these types of workplaces are also likely to be more loyal and productive. This further increases female employee retention rates.

Create an Employee Reward and Recognition Program

Every employee wants their manager to acknowledge their hard work. This recognition is especially true for pre and postpartum female employees who may quit their jobs due to feeling unappreciated, dismissed, or victim to gender inequality in the workplace. If possible, create a monthly reward and recognition program for outstanding employees. This straightforward strategy will foster a positive work culture and inspire employees to improve their work ethic. Working moms will also enjoy the positive reinforcement, especially those working from home who still want their efforts acknowledged outside the office.

Close the Wage Gap Between Your Employees

The pay gap between male and female talent is a long-standing issue of gender inequality in the workplace. It impacts female employees across all socioeconomic and racial groups in almost every industry. Companies should advocate for women in the workplace by closing the wage gap. After all, there’s a higher chance of female talent remaining loyal if they receive equal pay for equal work.

Make it Easier for Working Moms to Progress in Their Career

Are your pre and postpartum female workers anxious about potentially losing their job? Do the women in your workplace fear they’ll miss out on a promotion because of maternity leave? A top tip for supporting female workers is developing tools and creating opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers like their male counterparts. One way to do this is to focus on results, not on time spent; a great way to support a working mom’s need for flexibility. By creating opportunities for women, you can also tackle gender inequality in the workplace, encouraging female leadership and retaining your female employees in the process. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that moms are some of the hardest workers on the planet. With the right strategies and support, you can create a supportive environment for pre and postpartum women. In doing so, your company can encourage women in the workplace to thrive at all stages of life.

 

Photo by Jéan Béller

What We Learned From George Floyd’s Death

A couple of months ago, we hit the one-year mark since George Floyd’s death. The response and social unrest conversations reached a fever pitch last year, although racial inequality, police brutality, and race-related injustice are nothing new. However, many leaders and organizations took the opportunity to enact change. Good.

We are seeing positive strides in many organizations. They are adding diversity and inclusion officers, reprioritizing racial equity, and are doing a better job of listening. But what does this all really mean? It’s a question that shouldn’t be ignored.

Difficult Conversations

An article recently spoke to me: A Year After George Floyd, What Have Business Leaders Learned? written by Dan Bigman, editor and chief content officer of Chief Executive Group, publishers of Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, ChiefExecutive.net, Boardmember.com, and StrategicCFO360.com.

In his piece, he tapped a phenomenal resource to break down how George Floyd’s death can serve as a lesson for the workplace. As a social scientist and Harvard professor, Dr. Robert Livingston spent 20 years at influential companies like AirBnB, Microsoft, Under Armour, etc. While there, he made a point to show leadership teams how to turn difficult conversations about race into productive instances of real change. Earlier this year, he published The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations (Penguin Random House, 2021).

Livingston shared a model for social change that I hadn’t heard of before, called PRESS.

“The P stands for problem awareness,” Bigman says in his interview with Corporate Board Member. “The R is root cause analysis. E is empathy or concern. Do you care? The first S is strategy. And the second S is sacrifice.”

He explains that many leaders are apt to jump straight to strategy, but they overlook some important diagnostic steps. The collective response to George Floyd helped open our eyes. It gave us problem awareness.

Key Takeaways

It reminded us (and taught some) that systemic racism isn’t anything new. It is alive and we should look at its roots. Where did it begin? What have we accepted as the status quo? Then we can–and should–care that this is today’s reality. Only then can we build strategies in our organizations that matter, which may include some level of sacrifice.

I have thought about this at length. George Floyd’s death and the resulting human response. Not the original response to the video itself, but the larger drive to enact change. The change can be felt by individuals, families, workplaces, schools, and society. True shifts in behavior modeled by leaders who understand that their role and actions matter.

Livingston spoke about the emotional life of an organization. At TalentCulture, we speak about this quite often. Any person who opts to ignore the soul–the people, and all that comes with them–is missing the boat.

However, let’s be honest about this. Even some of the most people-first organizations have still not found the secret to unanimous equity across all populations. It isn’t easy. It takes education, research, resources, time, money, and sacrifice. But it’s worth it.

 

What is your organization doing as a direct result of what we learned from George Floyd’s death? I’d love to hear real-life examples about what you’ve done. I’m also interested in the impact made and perhaps some early outcomes you’ve observed. Reach out to me at ctrivella@talentculture.com.

Image by Brooke Cagle

How to Deliberately Eliminate Bias in the Hiring Process

As we all know, the hiring process can be a stressful and uncertain time. From the candidates themselves to the HR professionals making the decisions, the stress is real. However, one thing that should prevail above all else is recognizing and addressing any unconscious bias that happens during a hiring event. As conversations surrounding diversity in the workplace continue, companies must reexamine their hiring process to eliminate any biases that influence decisions.

Whether we recognize it, unconscious biases do impact hiring decisions. By definition, unconscious bias is when a company makes a hiring decision based on unconscious thought processes. These processes cause one candidate to be preferred over another for irrelevant reasons, such as race, gender, sexuality, or simply “likeability.” Even in the beginning stages of the hiring process, bias can occur by judging a candidate’s picture, name, or hometown. Long story short, unconscious biases influence hiring decisions—sometimes positively, sometimes negatively—using criteria irrelevant to the job. This can cost companies time, money, and the opportunity to hire top talent.

Let’s discuss ways that HR professionals can be sure to keep unconscious biases front of mind and eliminate bias in the hiring process.

Utilize Hiring Technology to Increase Diversity

Many available tools help HR professionals be consistent in their hiring decisions. Software programs that blind the process are beneficial and go a long way in creating unbiased screening procedures. A blind, systematic approach for reviewing applications and resumes will help identify the most relevant candidates in the pool. Many platforms help uncover hidden gems that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. By cutting out unnecessary information, such as names and backgrounds, technology can be incredibly helpful in making unbiased—and increasingly beneficial—hiring decisions.

Not only does hiring technology help cut out the unnecessary, but it opens roles to a broader range of candidates than ever before. Now, a candidate halfway across the country is often able to apply for a previously unachievable role. In turn, this allows companies to broaden their horizons and consider a wider range of applicants.

Consider Leveraging a Skills Test

One of the biggest challenges of the hiring process is how easy it is to fall into the “requirements” trap. Feeling college degree requirements created an unfair advantage, many companies have simply eliminated them from their job descriptions. Instead, companies now turn to skills-based hiring processes to help eliminate bias in the hiring process. Unlike degree and experience requirements, skills tests open the door for a more diverse set of candidates who might otherwise not have bothered applying.

Take, for example, a candidate who doesn’t have any formal education but instead carries years of experience in the field. This person might never have made it past the initial screening due to their lack of a degree. But with the implementation of skills-based testing, they have the opportunity to compete on an even playing field with other candidates.

Consider Using Blind Written Exercises

Instead of asking questions about background, consider implementing a written exercise for potential candidates to complete. This process removes any unnecessary information that could lead to bias: no name, demographic information, or experience. And be sure not to include any data fields—like first and last name, education level completed, or schools attended. That might create a bias around how the written answers are perceived.

This less intrusive—and nearly blind—process results in HR professionals recruiting people who HR and hiring managers may never have considered but who are more than qualified for the job.

Continuously Evaluate the Hiring Process for Improvement

No matter how aware a company is of its diversity, more is still to be done if the goal is to eliminate bias in the hiring process. This begins with understanding our own biases. Then we must actively work against them through continuous improvement and development. When evaluating your hiring process, consider these tips:

  • Measure gender and race statistics by monitoring the percentages of female or non-white applicants who move through the hiring process.
  • Regularly communicate with hiring teams and company leadership about what criteria the company uses to evaluate applicants and make hiring decisions. (Also, always look for red flags that have little to do with the actual position.)
  • Be aware of modern hiring platforms that put solid practices into place with realistic goals for combating bias.
  • Consider hiring tools, such as structured interviews or discussion forums, to cut out the unnecessary noise.
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when a process is not working—and quickly make adjustments.

Due to its often under-the-radar nature, bias in the hiring process can be tricky to address. However, with determination and a dedicated strategy, any HR professional can make strides toward combating this all-too-pervasive HR issue.

7 Unexpected Places to Find Your Next C-Suite Hire

Filling C-suite vacancies as soon as possible typically involves contacting executive search firms and posting to niche job sites. While standard recruitment tactics can certainly be effective, these methods may be narrowing the talent pool for your next C-Suite hire more than you realize.

Getting creative with your recruitment process will fill your C-suite with diverse, forward-thinking, and highly qualified professionals. Here are some unexpected places to look as you start your search for your next C-suite hire.

1. Passive Candidates

Job sites focus on candidates who are actively searching for a position. But what about the candidates who are more in stealth mode? Or aren’t looking at all? Passive recruitment involves reaching out to professionals who might not be on the job hunt yet but would be stellar choices for your C-suite. To identify and pursue the passive candidate, talk with your current leadership team, peers, and colleagues. Also, consider referral incentives to executives with helpful connections.

Keep in mind that since passive candidates aren’t jonesing to leave their current jobs, your company may need to offer extra incentives. This is especially true if the prospective executive would need to relocate. So you can exceed their expectations, work to gain insights into the candidate’s current position. What do they value most? What would entice them to make a move?

2. Outsourced Talent

Your business might benefit from outsourcing an executive’s job altogether. While this may be a non-traditional route, it could help you get the most out of available talent.

What exactly does outsourcing your C-suite look like? As an example, look at outsourced CMO Hawke Media. In this model, a marketing agency replaces the function of a CMO by creating a strategy and directing marketing campaigns. Your company saves on the recruitment process, and the outsourced team picks up where your CMO, CIO, or CFO left off.

3. Internal Promotions

When it comes to C-suite talent acquisition, external recruitment is often the name of the game. However, it’s worth looking at your internal talent pool as well. Consider which of your SVPs or VPs could show promise as a C-level employee. You might discretely recruit internal select members of your current leadership team or open up applications to whoever wants to apply.

Companies that extend their internal promotion pipeline straight to the top will likely see a positive and impactful culture shift. After all, employees tend to work harder and stay at a company longer when they see apparent growth paths. Higher retention rates, in turn, are essential for continuity, stability, and long-term company growth.

4. Former Employees

Every company has former employees that, in hindsight, wish would have never left. And with the right incentives, they just might come back. This applies at the executive level as well. If your company lost a high-level leader to another organization—especially a competitor—it might be worth your while to recruit them again. Just make sure you approach them ethically and transparently.

If a former executive left your company on favorable terms, consider reaching out. Yes, you’ll need to make sure they don’t have a non-compete agreement with their current employer. But if that’s not an obstacle, arrange a meeting to learn about their career goals and present your intentions. Some former executives might surprise you with how open they are to a new opportunity with their old company.

5. Industry Conferences

Conferences provide valuable networking and educational opportunities for professionals at all levels. And while most conferences are happening virtually these days, an upcoming event might still be the perfect place to recruit your next C-suite hire.

It can be helpful to do your research and create a shortlist of likely individuals ahead of time. Browse the conference website for notable names and look into the speakers before you leave. Plan your virtual itinerary around connecting with potential hires and follow up promptly. You might just make a connection that completes your company’s C-suite.

6. Blogs and Podcasts

Your company wants true thought leaders in its C-suite. With so many communication tools available, chances are these professionals are demonstrating their thought leadership by creating unique content and through personal branding. Industry blogs and podcasts are thus another recruitment source to consider when searching for your next C-suite hire.

You may already have some industry podcasts, blogs, and social media accounts you consume daily. When you listen to podcast episodes, take in a blog post, or connect with leaders online, pay close attention. Are there any individuals whose unique perspectives would benefit your company? If yes, don’t hesitate to reach out.

7. International Firms

Companies that only recruit domestically could be missing out on diverse talent and distinctive viewpoints. If you have the means, consider expanding your C-suite search internationally. This approach can be especially applicable to fully remote teams.

Top talent from another country will bring their own cultural work practices and knowledge base to the table, adding to your organization’s push for diversity. Plus, your business will open up a range of international opportunities that might not otherwise exist. Just be sure that your HR department is prepared for the logistics of hiring on a global scale.

Finding your next C-suite hire is often far more complicated than filling your typical vacancy. Recruitment and hiring often need to happen covertly, which takes job site advertisements and LinkedIn connections off the table. So, to find the sharpest minds for your executive team, get creative.

You’ll soon find the next member of your leadership team.

Image by Roman Samborskyi

Moving Beyond the Pandemic: The 3 Highest Priorities for Hiring Managers

One year after the onset of the global pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economies are opening back up, the vaccine rollout is underway, and companies are finally ready to ramp up hiring again. During the pandemic, hiring managers transformed their processes in surprisingly more efficient ways while providing an improved experience for hiring teams and candidates alike. These leaders are now in a unique position: 

They must plan for the future while also embracing what worked during the year that changed it all. 

We wanted to dive into these leaders’ minds to understand better the changes and challenges hiring teams have experienced over the past year. So our company, HireVue, surveyed over 1,100 hiring managers across the United States, Australia and the UK. The result? Yes, the pandemic’s impact on the global workforce was severe. However, it also provided valuable learnings and opportunities for hiring teams and job seekers alike. More importantly, we learned the three key priorities hiring managers must keep in mind as they move forward.

Hiring Managers: Embracing Technology’s Rapidly Expanding Role

2020 forced organizations to turn to technology to execute most, if not all, day-to-day operations, from hiring to remote onboarding. Our survey showed that HR tech didn’t just get the job done — it actually improved the hiring experience:

  • More than half of respondents (54%) noted that shifting to virtual interviews unexpectedly resulted in a speedier recruitment process
  • 41% say it helped them identify the best candidates
  • 37% of respondents experienced cost savings when incorporating more technology into their hiring practices
  • 36% noticed an increase in the diversity of candidates
  • And 35% were able to increase time spent on candidate engagement

The survey also showed that nearly half of the organizations moved solely to virtual interviewing in response to the pandemic. However, looking ahead, 41% of respondents plan to use a combination of in-person and virtual interviews — an additional 23% plan to move solely to video or virtual interviewing. Finally, 14% of hiring companies plan to automate much of the hiring process with AI, chatbots, and text. 

The pandemic showed us that the acceleration of technology isn’t slowing down. To thrive, companies must be strategic in their tech implementation. Every aspect of people’s lives has moved either completely digital or to a hybrid model. This means the average candidate has greater expectations around their experience. It’s becoming clear that virtual interviews and new candidate engagement methods like text are here to stay as recruiters implement a digital-first hiring process moving forward.

Which brings us to the top three post-pandemic priorities for hiring managers…

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce was brought to the forefront in 2020, so it’s no shock that 100% of respondents listed the topic of DEI as “extremely” or “very relevant” to them, with one-third ranking it as a top and immediate priority. What’s interesting is that 35% of respondents found diversity to be a benefit of virtual interviewing.

Because of safety concerns around COVID-19, businesses turned to virtual technology to vet and interview candidates. Simultaneously, global office closures forced them to expand their searches to include remote workers in a more permanent capacity. These circumstances led to more diverse hiring decisions and a broader candidate pool. But when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, HR leaders will need to consider how technology can continue to be used to build a diverse workforce. They’ll need to continue to learn how best to meet candidates where they are — when they’re available — will be critical. In fact, more than half of interviews through HireVue now occur outside of regular business hours, proving just how limited the candidate pool is when you rely on a strict Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 window. 

Using Standardized Assessments to Reduce Bias

Another way to mitigate bias is by using standardized assessments that focus on competencies rather than subjective indicators like resumes. In addition to assessments, chatbots and text capabilities work to remove structural barriers and create channels of communication that are more equitable and engaging for candidates.

Of the respondents with plans to take action on their DEI goals:

  • 62% plan to expand their recruiting network by seeking out candidates from nontraditional places
  • 55% will partner with organizations that connect underrepresented professionals with internships and jobs
  • 53% will recruit from universities with diverse student bodies
  • And 30% plan to use structured interviews to minimize unconscious biases within the hiring process

One of the biggest challenges of recruiting for DEI is the need for a quicker recruitment process. Organizations need to be deliberate and diligent in achieving these specific outcomes, which often takes time. With video-based interviewing technology, the process can achieve efficiency while simultaneously mitigating human bias. Just as important, the technology enables the vetting of candidates at a higher volume.

Pivoting Toward Process Efficiencies

COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity and demand for hiring leaders to innovate and rethink the way they hire. Moving forward, they want to automate administrative tasks — like reviewing stacks of resumes, scheduling interviews, and sharing feedback with their colleagues — so they can spend more time engaging with candidates and improving the hiring experience. In addition to trusting technology to help them streamline and simplify their own workload, 96% believe virtual interviews improve the recruitment experience for candidates. 

Another area we’ll see continue to evolve on the video front is the use of on-demand video interviews in place of real-time conversations. After all, hiring managers and HR professionals spend so much time scheduling and rescheduling interviews — and on-demand interviews free up time and offer more flexibility to both the candidate and hiring team to complete the interview process on their own time. This opens up the pool of candidates even more by not limiting it to those who can interview in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. The on-demand approach also solves many other issues that come with live, human-led interviews, such as unconscious biases, leading to a more fair and equitable process.

The role of hiring leaders as strategic business partners was front and center in 2020. During that time, the business case for implementing technology that enables greater focus on candidate engagement instead of rote tasks practically wrote itself. Like many other hiring leaders, I believe the future holds less of a return to normal. Instead, I see an opportunity to make business operations more tech-driven, inclusive, and efficient than ever.

 

Image from Atstock Productions

DEI Efforts that Matter: How to Drive Real Change in Your Organization

COVID-19 inevitably uprooted the way our society works. Due to the pandemic, organizations have uncovered cracks in their foundations that shed light on long-standing social justice and equality issues. At many businesses, DEI efforts are now igniting discussions designed to drive real change.

After the events of the last year or so, corporate leaders – including HR professionals – are now prioritizing these initiatives in innovative ways. Those leaders are determined to build stronger foundations among what seems like crumbling – and unhealthy – precedent. However, this transformation sits in contrast to the alarming number of organizations that remain stagnant in an era screaming for change.

Corporate America Steps Up

Many major corporations are acting fast. For example, Netflix created the “Netflix Fund for Creative Equity.” This fund dedicates $100 million over the next five years to support organizations that connect underrepresented communities with jobs in the television and film industries. These efforts are much appreciated – and much needed. After all, according to Gartner, only 40% of employees believe their supervisors foster a workplace that is equitable and inclusive.

This chasm between workers seeking an environment with meaningful DE&I policies and leaders crafting and adopting such procedures underscores why organizations must make these changes. In particular, data shows:

  • Companies hire lack employees into entry-level roles, but representation figures sharply decline in upper management and senior positions.
  • In 2019, white men comprised 63% of C-level jobs while women of color only accounted for 4%.
  • Hispanic individuals are forecasted to represent one out of every two new workers entering the workforce by 2025. However, the Economic Policy Institute reported that they were “least likely to be able to work from home and most likely to have lost their job during the COVID-19 recession.”

The importance of DE&I in the workplace is simple: we must create fair, safe environments for all workers, from recruitment to retention.

As HR professionals, we are responsible for the well-being of our employees and the organization overall. This means, more than any other industry, HR is in the best possible position to enact real change.

DEI Efforts that Matter: Where to Start

Be realistic about the planning and execution of your DE&I efforts.

Integrating DE&I procedures won’t occur within a few hours or even a couple of weeks. After all, real change involves thoughtful, careful planning that will benefit your organization’s health and longevity. Notably, policies created without meaningful purpose can cause confusion and disarray within a company. In the end, those policies are not likely to be successfully applied in your office.

Another major factor in the planning and implementation of DEI efforts is the expansion of different voices at the table. When an organization has an abundance of experience, backgrounds and perspectives amid the development stages, it ensures a greater scope of representation and more thoughtful, creative solutions. Aside from providing a rich, inclusive corporate culture, a benefit of including many different perspectives is to ensure that a company does not overlook challenges one group faces versus another. Without understanding these individual hardships from the onset, your DE&I programming will not be as effective as it could be.

Lululemon, an athletic apparel company, is a strong example of this as it made many commitments to its DE&I efforts in 2020. In particular, one focused on increasing diverse representation among its employees. A vital element of this effort: Enabling an employee-led dialogue between underrepresented members and the senior leadership team.

Invest in the Day-to-Day

Workplace DE&I policies are ineffective if companies don’t invest in change focused on their employees’ day-to-day lives. While the bigger picture sets the stage for the overarching framework, you must delve into your colleagues’ daily routine. By understanding their “day in the life,” you will learn how your DE&I initiatives impact them. And you’ll come to know what improvements you must still make.

This engaging approach is imperative as the daily realities of the office – and the behaviors of those people in the office –  should mirror the overall DE&I vision. When you invoke this strategy, the workplace will reflect – on micro and macro levels – the results of successful DE&I efforts.

Examine Every Stage of the Employment Cycle

Companies should also ensure they implement their DE&I vision and strategy at each stage of the employment process. To aid in this effort, below are questions to consider when interviewing applicants. Also included: questions that enable connection with new, current and former employees.

  • Applicants: Who do you want to target during recruitment? How can your company scout prospective employees in a more inclusive manner?
  • New employees: During a team member’s onboarding, how will you educate them on DE&I policies and corporate culture? What level of education on the subject is currently in place, and – if need be – how could that be improved?
  • Current employees: Have you implemented diversity within your teams and projects to produce results that account for varying perspectives? Are opportunities for advancement fairly reachable to all employees? During interactive internal meetings and annual reviews, what questions will highlight issues or perceptions that may arise and affect your colleagues?
  • Former employees: During the exit interview process, how is your team handling the identification of trends and implementing professional actions?

Track Your Impact

To understand a plan’s efficacy, you must measure and report improvement and progress along the way. This part of the process is imperative. After all, if companies do not track their development, they will not be aware of areas that are working – and others that may need further support.

In addition to setting out a plan to track your goals, create an easily accessible dashboard that reports progress against the company vision. And based on the data gathered and reported, frequently analyze ways the organization can advance and modify your DE&I strategy.

Listen and Learn

There is no perfectly written handbook that explains the exact way your office should prepare and plan its DE&I policies. However, there is one constant: You must listen to your employees throughout the process.

Ignoring feedback from your colleagues will hamper your organization’s DEI efforts and, eventually, its path to success. As you check your progress throughout the year, make sure you establish a channel to receive a consistent cadence of feedback. For example, use survey tools and focus groups to better grasp how your employees perceive the company’s efforts and measure results. This crucial data will also help you pivot, if needed, and identify different ways the company can improve.

Don’t Stand Still, Evolve

Our society continues to experience profound change. So it is essential to revise and reshape the workplace appropriately – and in real-time.

As a workforce, we will continue to receive and provide education on how we can mold corporate practices to be more inclusive and available for many employees in the future. As a profession that thrives on those we serve perceiving us as understanding, we must continue to hear what others have to say. To quickly make changes that positively impact every employee, we must remain agile.

This is how we ensure our DEI efforts matter. This is you drive real change – in your organization and throughout society.

 

Image by Vitalinko

60 Percent of U.S. Companies Still Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

A recent study revealed that roughly 40% of U.S. companies offer paid parental leave for both parents. Many publications, including the survey itself, highlighted this figure as a positive, citing lower numbers in the past. While any improvement is welcome, these results imply that 60% of organizations in the nation still don’t offer paid paternity leave.

The lack of paid leave for both fathers and mothers can intensify workplace inequality and damage businesses. Here’s a closer look.

Why Companies Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

To understand this issue fully, it helps to look at why so many companies don’t offer paid leave. Perhaps the most significant factor behind this choice is that it’s not a requirement. There is no national legislation that says businesses have to offer paid leave to either parent, much less both.

There are, however, paid parental leave requirements in five states and Washington, D.C., with varying provisions. At least five other states are currently considering paid leave laws, but that leaves most of the U.S. with no such legislation. When businesses don’t have to offer these benefits, many won’t — primarily because of the expense.

At first, paying an employee while they aren’t adding value to the company can seem like a financial risk. While it may seem that not offering paid leave can save a company money, it’s destructive in the long run — both employees and the companies they work for suffer.

How These Policies Impact Different Demographics

Although 40% of U.S. companies offer paid leave to both parents, that doesn’t mean 40% of workers experience those benefits. The businesses that provide these programs don’t employ a proportional amount of the workforce, so surveys show that just 20% of private-sector employees had access to such benefits in 2020.

There is a sharp economic divide between workers who do and do not receive paid parental leave, too. Only 8% of workers in the bottom wage quartile have access to these programs. Low-wage workers, who would suffer tremendously from weeks of unpaid leave, are far less likely to get paid leave.

Years of racial bias and oppression in America mean this divide is a racial one, too. Black and Hispanic workers, coming from historically disenfranchised families and neighborhoods, are less likely to receive paid leave for either parent.

How Businesses Benefit from Paid Paternity Leave

These disparities in paid parental leave programs worsen the economic and racial divides that already plague the nation. The impacts of a lack of paid leave don’t end with creating more division, though; they have economic effects as well. And yet, when businesses offer paid leave for both parents, they often see positive productivity gains.

Caring for a newborn child is stressful, and having to do so without a reliable income exacerbates that stress. Studies show that unexpected absenteeism, which can cost companies $3.5 million a year, is more often than not the result of stress. After all, stressed employees are far more likely to miss work and be less productive in the workplace.

Offering paid leave to only one parent fails to mitigate these issues effectively. The parent at home may feel more stressed from shouldering the burden of childcare alone, potentially harming their productivity when they return. The parent at work may have trouble focusing from spending time away from their newborn, impacting their productivity as well.

Providing both paternity and maternity leave ensures both parents can raise their newborn without economic difficulty. In return, their morale will improve, leading to less stress and higher productivity when they return.

How Paid Paternity Leave Supports Women in the Workforce

It’s impossible to discuss the impacts of parental leave without mentioning gender inequality in the workplace. Lack of paid parental leave for women doesn’t just widen the gender wage gap; it drives women out of the workforce. While it may not seem unrelated at first, paternity leave also impacts women’s work experiences.

When fathers can take time off as well as mothers, it reduces the stress of childcare. Fathers can take over raising children for a time, giving mothers a chance to get back to work. Paid paternity leave means women don’t have to bear the entire burden of raising a newborn, helping them retain their vital place in the workforce.

Past studies have indicated that paid paternity leave also reduces absenteeism among mothers, helping keep women satisfactorily employed. Similarly, countries with mandated paternity leave show higher rates of female employment in private companies. The bottom line: Paid paternity leave improves equality at home, and leads to more equity in the workplace.

Gender Equality: U.S. Companies Still Have a Way to Go

This Women’s History Month, companies should consider how their policies affect their female workers. Even paternity leave can impact women’s involvement in the workplace. Businesses that don’t provide equitable policies hinder gender equality among their employees and in their communities.

For years, women have had to bear most of the burden of child-rearing, limiting their professional careers. Equitable policies like paid leave for all parents lighten this burden, enabling women to achieve their full professional potential. The U.S. has made some tremendous strides in the pursuit of workplace gender equality, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

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How to Create an Inclusive Culture for Foreign Workers

Businesses don’t tend to thrive in an echo chamber. In fact, precedent shows you need the contribution of multiple perspectives to inform processes, build a richer cultural environment, and inspire innovation. An inclusive culture combined with a diverse workforce — with representation at all levels, from entry to executive — is essential to success.

One of the ways to enable this is through an international workforce. Thankfully, we are living at a time where global contribution is more practical than ever. Whether you are participating in temporary placement drives, permanently hiring refugees, or operating a remote workforce from across the planet, there are tools and processes in place to help. However, one of the most important elements you need to ensure that you, your employees, and your customers enjoy the most positive experiences, is a robust culture of inclusion.

There are certainly ethical imperatives to enabling a generally more inclusive culture in your business. However, we’re going to focus specifically on how you should proceed from foreign workers’ perspectives. What policies and procedures should you include? What are some of the common challenges, and how can these be addressed?

Provide Support

Empathy is a crucial element when it comes to running any successful business. It is particularly vital when creating an inclusive culture for foreign workers.

You must take the time necessary to understand not just how they can be an asset to your business, but also the challenges that your international employees can face. As such, one of the elements you should make a cultural priority in your company is a robust support system — one that specifically targets foreign workers’ needs.

The legislative minefield that often accompanies the immigration system is one of the common issues foreign workers face. This process can be very complex, particularly in the U.S. So you should have protocols in place to provide assistance even before you have selected your candidate. To start, your human resources (HR) department should know what types of visas are most appropriate for the positions for which you’re hiring. For example, H1B visas are for specialist jobs, H2B for non-agricultural temporary workers, and L-1 if your employee transfers from a foreign branch of your global business. Where appropriate, discuss the process for visa sponsorship with the candidate and your procedures for guiding them through the process should they need assistance.

It may be that your foreign employees need access to additional resources. For instance, consider their need for linguistic assistance; a Pew Research study found that 47% of immigrants are proficient in English. Though merely being around native speakers all the time can help with the acquisition of the language, it can be wise to provide them with information on, and even subsidize, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

Encourage Connections

Creating an inclusive culture is not simply about focusing on what can be done to help your workforce’s foreign employees. It also requires attention to creating a positive environment for everybody involved, and empowering all workers to build supportive relationships together. Indeed, this lies at the heart of what it means to foster a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. One tip: Ensure workers from all backgrounds gain a genuine sense of belonging. Start by taking opportunities to celebrate the differences each contributes to the overall culture of your business.

Facilitating socialization is also a significant step here. Of course, it is essential that workers — foreign and domestic — recognize one another’s professional skills. But they should also learn to appreciate one another as humans. By organizing social events, you create the opportunity to gather your employees in a setting that is not affected by the pressure and expectations of the workplace. When workers can relax and have fun together, aspects of their personalities, their interests, and their diverse cultures will come to the fore in a way that is missing in the working environment. This level of familiarity allows employees to understand one another a little better. Over time, it forges stronger bonds of friendship that aid inclusivity.

Connection = Caring About What Matters Most

Building connections should also extend to understanding the issues and cultural practices important to your foreign workers. Whether they are physically in your U.S.-based office, or you are engaging freelancers around the world, get input from workers about what matters most to them:

  • What holidays do they celebrate?
  • What activities do they undertake in their spare time?
  • Which charitable or social causes do they support?

Make time to share in these, to discuss them. Celebrate their holidays and their variations on those already observed within the company. Consider including all staff involved in activism or fundraising for the issues your foreign workers feel are critical to them. Perhaps just as important, ask how you can help bring their customs and traditions into the workplace as their employer.

Utilize Tools

One of the advantages of living in a technological age? Businesses have access to many tools especially useful for ensuring that foreign workers don’t feel excluded. As part of your broader cultural inclusion planning, investigate how your company can implement these tools and technologies. Your goal: To support and integrate all employees.

Communications platforms are most important here, particularly when your workers are operating remotely from across the planet. Don’t just rely on a single contact method that native speakers may feel less confident in engaging with one-on-one. Ensure you have collaborative tools in place that provide opportunities for audio, video calls, and text-based chat. Slack and Microsoft Teams are among the most popular examples and integrate well with most project management processes.

It’s also worth providing access to translation and language learning software. After all, there may be times when language barriers lead to misunderstandings. When left unresolved, these simmering workplace conflicts can lead workers to feel distanced. Lingvist and Duolingo are relatively accessible language learning apps and are popular in helping gain linguistic confidence and fluency in a relatively short period. From a translation perspective, Linguee and MemoQ are both software platforms that allow documents and text to be converted into most languages while also using the context of phrases to enhance accuracy.

Bottom line: Want to build a culture of inclusion for foreign workers? Make even a small attempt to speak their language. And help ensure they speak yours.

Create Your Inclusive Culture

There are distinct business advantages to engaging foreign workers as part of your workforce, not to mention the ethical imperative to improve diversity. However, it’s vital to ensure that you make concerted efforts to encourage a culture of inclusion. Gain an understanding of what areas of support are most needed. Then enable deeper connections between staff members, and explore relevant tech tools.

Only then you can start to provide the best possible workplace for international and domestic workers alike.

 

Image by Harold Guevara

What is Unconscious Bias? (And How Do You Defeat It?)

How do you defeat unconscious bias? First, you need to know what it is.

Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, etc. It differs from cognitive bias, a predictable pattern of mental errors resulting in us misperceiving reality. These are two separate and distinct concepts despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns.

Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains. In contrast, unconscious bias refers to perceptions between different groups and are specific to the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner. Yet, that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. Another example – geographic instead of across time: Most US-based people don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims. Yet, this distinction is significant in many parts of the world.

Unconscious Bias and Prejudice

In my speeches, I often discuss that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people. In response, some participants (usually white) occasionally defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to black people’s internal characteristics (implying they deserve the treatment), not to the external context of police behavior.

In reality – as I point out in my response to these folks – research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one. At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black person. In other words, statistics show that, at least to a large extent, the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to police officers’ prejudice.

However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse.

Not Limited to One Race

Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people. Specifically, they perceive them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many – not all – black police officers helps show that such prejudices come – at least to a significant extent – from internal cultures. They germinate within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes before someone joins a police department.

The Need to Address Internal Cultures

We often perpetuate such cultures by internal norms (such as poorly-written job descriptions), policies, and training procedures. So any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers. In other words, it is not enough to say it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones. Instead, we must recognize that implicit bias is a systemic issue. Therefore, we must first fix the structure and joints of the barrel.

The crucial thing to highlight is that there is no shame or blame in implicit bias. After all, that bias, is not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences. Just as important, it helps them hear and accept the issue.

With these additional statistics and discussion of implicit bias, we consider the issue generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior, it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for them to feel that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it. In turn, they are reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts on protecting black Americans from police violence.

The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions, and thus they reject this concept. This, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is rarely sufficient, both in my experience and according to research.

Defeating Unconscious Bias

This example of how to fight unconscious bias illustrates broader patterns you need to follow to address unconscious bias and make the best people decisions. After all, when we simply follow our intuitions, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices.

  1. Instead, you need to start by learning about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias yourself, so that you know what you’re trying to address.
  2. Then, you must stress that there should be no shame or guilt in acknowledging our instincts.
  3. Next, openly discuss the dangers of following their intuitions to build up an emotional investment into changing behaviors.
  4. Lastly, convey the right mental habits that will help them make the best choices.

Remember, one-time training will not defeat unconscious bias. This effort takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline. Get started today.

 

Image by Hannamariah

Women’s History Month: A Chance to Make Equity a Reality

Throughout my conversations with people in the world of work, I hear these questions every March — about the time we start celebrating Women’s history month:

Why still this fuss about Women’s History Month? 

Why isn’t there a Men’s History Month? 

And why do we need to attach gender to history?

And, no, the people asking these questions aren’t always men. In fact, I have known women who were not exactly proactive about championing other women in the workplace or the workforce. Regardless of who asks, though, there is typically a noticeable pause among the women that witness these conversations. Also typical: Not too many of us women actually speak up when people ask these questions. 

Are we tired of advocating for what should already be a given? Or do we need new weapons in our arsenal to combat the same old problems — and some new issues — in more effective ways?

Designed to create a new way of answering generations-old questions, here are a few ways to improve your workplace — and your recruiting methods. The over-arching goal: Make the world of work better for everyone, including women.

Remove Bias in Written Form

In all industries, gender-coded language is alive and well in job descriptions and postings. Our intent may be to write engaging descriptions — but in the process, we inadvertently discourage women applicants. For example, we still seek “assertive” and “dominant” team members that play well in “competitive” and “fast-paced” environments (all predominantly male stereotypes).

While often a notorious offender of bias itself, HR technology has produced some highly effective digital tools to help. Augmented writing platforms (like Textio) and gender decoding software (like the free Gender Decoder) can seek and scrub bias and help bolster descriptions with engaging yet equitable language. 

Adjust Family Leave Policies

Better family leave policies can solve five fundamental problems: 

  • Eases the pressure on working women forced to make a tough choice
  • Removes the burdensome misbelief that child care is women’s work
  • Allows fathers to fully participate in child, pet and elderly care
  • Better supports same-sex families
  • Better reflects Millennial and Gen-Z values and expectations

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials and Generation-Z believe in shared domestic responsibilities across genders. Companies that only provide maternity leave — as opposed to paternity or family leave — are seen as retrogressive. For employers, this is not a good look when attracting top talent under the age of 38.

Consider the Pandemic-Related Burdens Placed on Women

The pandemic has been brutal on many people, particularly women. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to recent findings by McKinsey:

  • Since the COVID-19 crisis began, women’s jobs have been 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s jobs
  • Women make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses

Data shows these trends are even worse for women of color, who are more likely to work in service industries greatly impacted by the pandemic and are more likely to be called upon to be primary caretakers in multi-generational households. In addition, women of color are more likely to contract the virus itself and are more likely to be hospitalized, causing further work loss.

Just like adjusting family leave policies can level the playing field for women, employers can also help those women impacted by the pandemic by encouraging and enabling male employees to step up. 

Conduct a Pay Equity Audit

I’ve been saying this for years, and I’m going to repeat it now: We have a moral imperative to pay all people, including women, fairly. 

Fortunately, not doing so now has significant legal consequences for organizations. Lawmakers across the US are writing pay equity laws; as a result, companies with global affiliates or branches will need to pay closer attention to gender pay gaps. 

There are also countless ways to define equal pay for equal work or comparable pay for comparable work. But the only way to achieve true pay equity for all traditionally disadvantaged groups is to take a long, hard look at the realities of how and what organizations pay their people. Again, technology is our friend — and we now have more robust analytics than ever before. Don’t, though, settle for just throwing tech at the problem and coming up with some executive report that never sees the light of day. Instead, make the report known to your employees. At the same time, describe precisely how your company will resolve any issues discovered. 

Remember: Transparency = Truth. 

These are just four ways to ensure we recruit, treat, and pay women equally in the workplace. Until we incorporate these ideas and so many more just like them, each designed to provide a true sense of equity for women, the world will continue to need Women’s History Month.

 

Editors’ Note: This is Women’s History Month. Each March, we commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. To learn more, click here.

 

The Undeniable Impact of Workplace Diversity [Infographic]

Workplace diversity is not a new topic. And yet, the world of work hasn’t made nearly enough progress in gender, cultural, and ethnic diversity.

The prevailing wisdom: Today’s business leaders (many of whom are older white males) still don’t fully understand the importance of workplace diversity. That perhaps, if those leaders were aware of diversity’s impact on their bottom line, they’d deliberately tie business goals to building a diverse workforce.

Consider the latest data points available to us, as shown in the infographic below from CoachDiversity Institute:

  • 60 percent of employees have seen or experienced discrimination at work
  • 41 percent of managers say they are too busy to incorporate diversity into their work routines
  • Of those people in the C-suite, only 4 percent are women of color, and just 10 percent are men of color
  • By almost 4:1, white men outnumber white women in executive positions

Workplace Diversity: Time for Change

Yes, it is time for real change. In fact, for several years, the carefully-gathered evidence has been irrefutable: The businesses that maintain a diverse culture far outperform the competition:

  • Companies with the highest gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to have higher profits
  • Companies with higher cultural and ethnic diversity are 36 percent more likely to have above-average profits
  • 57 percent of employees want their companies to be more diverse
  • 64 percent of job candidates say diversity and inclusion are critical considerations when accepting a job
  • 87 percent of the time, more diverse teams make better decisions than individual decision-makers
  • More diverse companies are 1.7x more innovative than less diverse companies

The data is clear: Business leaders must begin to create diverse workplaces more deliberately. But first, they must start intentional conversations.

How to Talk About Diversity

For some time, meaningful conversations about diversity have taken a back seat to lip service. After all, when pressed, business leaders have shown a tendency to say all the right things versus doing what is right. So how do we start the tough conversations that lead to quantifiable change?

This is where we really appreciate the infographic by CoachDiversity. Here, you’ll see how to start and continue the much-needed conversations in your business. From expecting and welcoming diverse viewpoints to encouraging more listening than talking and underscoring the common goal even during the most challenging conversations, it’s in here.

Take a few minutes to review this insightful infographic. Embrace just how essential diversity is to the business world. Then start a tough but oh-so-necessary conversation about workplace diversity in your company.

 

Editors’ Note: March is Women’s History Month, where we commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. To learn more, click here.

 

workplace diversity

Image by Evgenyi Gromov

[#WorkTrends] How to Harness the Workplace Power of Introverted People

Many of us might not know that Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and also Elon Musk consider themselves introverts. Like many other introverted people, they have capitalized on their ability to listen well, stay objective, and find the answers in chaos.

Given their unprecedented success, why wouldn’t we want to harness the power and potential of introverts in our workforce?

Our Guest: Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D. Author and Speaker

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., is one of the top global leadership speakers on introversion and is the author of a new book: Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces: How to Unleash Everyone’s Talent and Performance. Who better to talk about unleashing the power and potential of introverted people in the workplace, right? 

First, I asked Jennifer what drew her to this unique workplace topic:

“I worked in a lot of positions in HR and leadership development and coaching,” Jennifer explained. “And it became a consistent theme that introverts were frustrated; they often felt overlooked and ignored. Everything was designed for the people who were the talkers — the loudest voice in the room. Since the diversity and inclusion conversation is so prevalent right now, I was surprised I couldn’t find anything on introverted people in the workplace. So I became almost a zealot about this!”

We’re glad she did. Now more than ever, with increasing dependency on remote work, many people who identify as introverts are making their mark in the workplace.

The Workplace Power of Introverted People

After explaining that introverts re-energize by taking quiet time — time that allows creativity to flow, innovative thoughts to development, and also deep reflection — Jennifer jumped into how to harness the power of introverted people:

“We must be more intentional about our hiring and culture practices. When we talk about HR, in particular, we have to ask ourselves: Are we including introverts in our planning and execution? Are they part of our diversity and inclusion plan? That must happen more. That’s when we change cultures; that’s when entire organizations change.”

“It’s not just a nice to have,” Jennifer said. “Because if we only listen to the loudest people in the room, half the voices and ideas aren’t being heard.”

As our conversation progressed, Jennifer and I also talked about her key findings while researching introverts in the workplace, how introverts are adapting to remote work (including those endless Zoom meetings), and much more. Please enjoy this episode of the #WorkTrends podcast. Then take a close look at how your organization integrates and respects people on both ends of the introversion-extraversion spectrum. 

 

Find Jennifer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve redesigned our and #WorkTrends Podcast pages (and also our FAQ page) to help you be more productive. Please take a look!

 

Image by Frazer J. Grunshaw

Embracing Neurodiversity: The Future of Talent Management [Podcast]

We’ve recently come to understand how diversity affects us all — in society and the workplace. But there are forms of diversity we don’t talk about enough; specifically, we need to start embracing neurodiversity.

If your workplace is like most, you likely have a whole range of different thinking styles on your teams. But too often, they’re not all recognized — let alone appreciated or accommodated.

On #WorkTrends Conversations: Ed Thompson, CEO & Founder of Uptimize

In this episode of our podcast, Ed Thompson, the CEO and Founder of Uptimize, joined us to discuss the importance of recognizing — and then embracing — neurodiversity in the workforce. I’ve often said we need to revise our approach to welcoming and appreciating neurodiversity in the workplace — just as important, we need to see it as the incredible workplace advantage it is. Ed, after telling us that neurodiversity is simply “the natural diversity of human brain wiring” and “that everybody process information differently,” agrees:

“This is a sizable demographic; some people say one in 10 people might be neuro-distinct in some way. Some even say one in five. So we must recognize the strengths neuro-distinct people can bring to the workplace. We also must recognize that many of the challenges that neuro-distinct people can face in the workplace are the result of people, processes, and environments that simply aren’t inclusive.”

Ed added: “This has always been a fact of human collaboration. It’s just that until now, we humans have done a poor job of recognizing that. Nor have we taken steps to leverage neurodiversity.”

A Practical Approach to Embracing Neurodiversity

I asked Ed how we best approach neurodiversity in the workplace and talent management. His answer was enlightening:

“The key point here is all workplaces are already neurodiverse. Any manager already leads a team whose members have different preferences in how they communicate, problem-solve, and so on. Some prefer communicating in person; others prefer Slack or Zoom.” After reminding us that these preferences are an example of people being neuro-distinct, Ed suggests: “A significant number of people are neuro-distinct, regardless of whether they’ve chosen to disclose.”

“So neurodiversity isn’t a thing we need to add to our DEI efforts; it’s something we already have.” 

In this episode, Ed went on to tell us how to recognize how people might be neuro-distinct, how to optimize their productivity, and what employers can do to serve everybody well — from those with distinct communication and learning preferences and needs to those who identify as autistic. In other words, he shared with us everything we need to do to start recognizing and appreciating this form of diversity in the workplace.

My discussion with Ed was everything a #WorkTrends Conversations podcast is supposed to be: informative, informal, and insightful. Please listen to the entire episode, and then ask yourself: 

Is my company embracing neurodiversity? Or can we do better?

Download a Free eBook from Uptimize

We can all do better, of course. Which is why we encourage you to download your free copy of Introduction to Neurodiversity at Work: Embracing Diversity of Thought as a Talent Strategy by the sponsor of this podcast, Uptimize.  In this e-book, you’ll learn how neurodiversity programs drive business results, five key tips that will help you create and execute a successful neurodiversity program, and much more.

 

Find Ed Thompson on LinkedIn. And for webinar updates and more, be sure to follow Uptimize.

 

Editor’s note: Our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages are all new! Please take a look.

 

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How the Remote Work Era Impacts Your 2021 DEI Efforts

How will the remote work era impact your 2021 DEI efforts? How will you keep the promises made around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Before remote work became so prevalent, it was possible to keep real-world events and conversations out of the workplace. Now that’s not only impossible; it’s also increasingly inadvisable. Events in your employees’ personal lives undoubtedly affect the workplace—not only on a personal performance level, but also on a company culture level. Add in ongoing issues of racial inequality and police brutality and the expectation is clear…

Companies must increase DEI efforts in 2021.

Whether employees are having discussions about racism or simply the challenges of living through the pandemic, personal conversations happen – and will continue to happen with increasing frequency. To make sure companies handle these conversations in a productive, positive manner, it’s essential to consider developing a DEI strategy alongside their corporate strategy. The inevitable result is culture-improving programs that promote and champion the business benefits and value of a diverse workforce.

The time is now to tangibly make good on the promises companies have made over the years to increase their focus on DEI.

Here are some actions I expect companies will begin to take in 2021 to fulfill these promises.

Revamp Hiring Practices

One of the first places companies will analyze to improve DEI in their workforce is their talent pool. But merely wanting to hire more diverse team members doesn’t mean you’ll receive diverse applicants.

To increase the diversity of their talent pools, companies will revisit their hiring practices. Providing training programs and resources for hiring teams and reviewing job descriptions to remove non-inclusive terminology and unnecessary requirements is a start. So is expanding from a primarily referral-based recruitment pipeline to a pipeline full of diverse recruiting events and job boards across the country. These are examples of the steps companies will take to be more accessible and welcoming to a diverse array of candidates.

After successful remote work experiments in 2020, I expect we’ll see many companies expand the number of remote roles available, enabling them to drastically expand their talent pool. Of course, the organizational culture will also need to evolve in order to retain a more diverse workforce.

Actively Provide Ongoing DEI Resources 

Instead of having one-off discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion in response to separate incidences, workplaces will begin making DEI discussions a part of their regular culture. For some, this will mean creating support and learning groups that provide safe spaces to talk about issues. The support methods might include facilitated discussions, anti-racist books, podcasts, articles, videos, and other materials.

Companies will also begin to create dedicated DEI teams to lead the strategy and implementation of all DEI initiatives. These dedicated teams will focus on diversity training, affinity groups, recruitment, promotion, external partnerships, supplier diversity, and more.

Deliberately Become Anti-racist Organizations

Even with a diverse workforce, a company can still have a racist culture. To prevent this, companies must create and enforce actionable anti-racist policies and practices. To show this is a high priority, a temporary shift in focus away from short-term revenue goals may be necessary.

From required training and programs addressing implicit bias, microaggressions, and more to dedicated employee taskforces, this step will require strategic engagement from leadership to get it right – and enact change from the top-down. Companies should also consider implementing Crossroad Ministry’s diversity training. This program provides detailed steps to help your company move from a monocultural organization to an anti-racist, multicultural organization.

Address DEI in their Products and Services

No workplace can be anti-racist if it doesn’t also extend its DEI efforts to the products and services it provides. Companies truly committed to undertaking DEI strategy will thoroughly assess how they plan and craft their products and services. Along the way, they must note DEI-related gaps and oversights that could help their offerings appeal to their target markets.

I’m Chief Inclusion Officer of an education technology company that serves more than 10 million students and educators. In my role, this aspect of inclusion is especially important to me. One of my primary duties is to ensure our products foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students of all races and backgrounds. While it’s an ongoing process, I’m proud to say we’re making a difference in students’ lives. We’re also helping our educator partners create an equitable learning experience for all of their students.

2020 brought about many challenges – and we’re all happy it’s over. But it also helped usher in some positive changes. I expect 2021 will begin to see those transformations more fully realized in the area of DEI. And I look forward to seeing the long-lasting changes companies implement as they become more inclusive, equitable workplaces.

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How Talent Development Makes a Positive Impact on Your Business

The success of any business is not just reliant upon the efforts of leadership. To truly thrive, companies need skilled and committed employees. This certainly means that human resources and management need to apply resources to discovering and attracting the best possible talent. But their attention shouldn’t stop once onboarding is complete. Those efforts must include deliberate talent development. 

Talent development is the process through which companies continue to invest in their employees beyond base salary payments and benefits. As one recent study shows, a company culture that nurtures employees directly impacts the bottom line. Not least of which regards the costs of turnover: that 94% of employees would stay with a company if it were willing to invest in their learning and development. 

Let’s explore some areas an effective talent development process directly impacts, and methods you can use to capitalize on them.  

Performance

Talent development is not only the key to retaining employees; it can also be instrumental in improving performance. This doesn’t just mean that your attention to their growth results in greater productivity — although that certainly occurs by acquiring new skills and understanding of productivity techniques. However, when your employees see you’re making efforts to support their growth, they tend to be more engaged with the efficient operation of the business. 

As a result, performance should be a guiding element of your talent development program. This begins with a commitment to meaningful performance reviews. We don’t mean a simple analysis of how the employee has functioned that year. Instead, there need to be discussions in which the aim is to guide employee growth. Direct the dialogue, not toward areas of failure, but identifying training opportunities. Don’t just dictate your needs; work with them to discover what they would like to learn, too. Discuss opportunities for promotion, and how you can plot a road map together that can get them there. These conversations strengthen relationships and naturally lead to more opportunities for talent development. 

Performance targeted talent development is also not necessarily an individual act. It also presents opportunities for employees to work together to create a positive working environment, resulting in improved overall performance. Encourage departments to learn what motivates them as a team and as individuals. Understand how to adjust the workplace and its practices to be more mutually beneficial. Provide them with responsibility here, approaching it as a project with requisite planning and analysis. Not only will they feel more connected to the business, but they also gain in-demand project management skills. 

Innovation

One of the main errors a business can make is becoming stagnant. In the digital age, the world frequently changes. That often means that to retain the competitive edge, we must innovate. Talent development can introduce employees to new skills and new ways of thinking about the challenges they face – and overcoming them. As such, it is an essential element in building a sustainable culture of innovation within your company.

So, how do you approach the talent development process with innovation in mind?

Company Insight

Provide them with opportunities to better understand the company; what it’s good at, and the not so good. This can include shadowing leadership, attending meetings, and being encouraged to ask questions (and being given honest answers). This helps the growth of new corporate operations skills and incentivizes deeper engagement within the company. 

Diversity

Innovation requires access to multiple perspectives and experiences. Studies show that companies that prioritize diversity tend to perform better than their more monocultural competitors. So your talent development program must commit to nurturing diversity. Undoubtedly, part of this approach is ensuring a range of voices has opportunities to work with you. However, it’s also about encouraging those in the program to value diverse perspectives and adjust their own viewpoints accordingly. 

Curiosity 

Helping employees follow their curiosity, both within and outside of the business, is a cornerstone of talent development. Give employees opportunities to train with other departments and company time to work on personal projects. Add coaching to ensure employees feel guided and supported. By giving them space to explore and experiment, and encourage them even when they fail, you provide the tools necessary to contribute to innovation — and the confidence to experiment.

Loyalty

One of the greatest assets for any business is loyalty. Employees who feel connected to and supported by their company are more likely to stick with them in the long run. Loyalty isn’t about simple retention, though; it also means a dedication to the company’s ideals and becoming leaders who embody them. Employee development helps to both guide this process and reinforces the reasons why they should maintain their commitment. So your talent development program must begin at onboarding. 

Use the tools of the process to set expectations. For instance, in your employee handbook, make it clear there is a commitment to engaging in talent development, and why it is essential. Outline the support methods — mentoring, coaching, reviews — and how this affects the potential for progression. By emphasizing your company cares about them and their growth early, it immediately plants the seed that there are incentives to mutual commitment. 

This same attention has to be consistent throughout their time with the company. Not in an overbearing, micromanaging sense. Instead, talent development must be about the company and the employee working together to ensure the growth of each. Make continued efforts to understand what they need, and they will be more likely to do the same for your company. 

What’s Your Approach to Talent Development?

Talent development goes further than talent management. It demonstrates a commitment to helping employees grow in directions that they are also keen to explore. 

Design your program to empower workers to improve their performance, become innovative thinkers and loyal contributors. Though this often takes a significant investment of time and capital, the long-term returns are culturally and economically significant. 

 

Photo Provided by Rawpixels

[#WorkTrends] The Power of Workplace Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

Talking about workplace diversity without talking about inclusion and a sense of belonging can be counterproductive. Worse yet, it isn’t going to help the marginalized feel like they have a seat at the table.

I recently read a great post by LaFawn Davis of Indeed. In that article, LaFawn makes it clear the pandemic’s impact on people of color, women, older, and more often marginalized workers is entirely disproportionate. Cases in point:

  • Discrimination against Asians in the U.S. has surged since the early days of the pandemic. Over 30% of Americans have recently witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 33 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were Black. This, despite blacks comprising only 13 percent of the American population.
  • An October study on Women in the Workplace by McKinsey found that one in every four women is considering downshifting their careers. Or, they might give up their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19.

We have a lot of work to do. And we must start that work by acknowledging that people of color and women are shouldering recent burdens far more than others.

Our Guest: LaFawn Davis, VP of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Indeed

Joining me this week on #WorkTrends is the author of that insightful post, LaFawn Davis. LaFawn is the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed. There, she leads Indeed’s strategic efforts to remove bias and eliminate barriers to entry by focusing on inclusive features and accessibility in products to help all people get jobs. She also enables a diverse and inclusive work culture for Indeed’s employees. 

Because I find too many companies are still trying to lump diversity, inclusion, and belonging into one entity, I started our conversation by asking LaFawn how these three elements differ and, taken one at a time, how they help us build a truly diverse workforce. LaFawn’s response quickly cut to the heart of the matter:

“Companies are trying to silo off diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Or, they make one of the words synonymous with the others,” LaFawn added. Next, LaFawn intuitively explained how a deliberate focus on each element helps create an innovative workforce:

“Diversity is the belief that teams with different work styles, problem-solving techniques, life experiences, backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets are truly what makes innovation possible. Inclusion is really around the actions and behaviors that create a culture where employees feel valued, trusted, and authentic. And belonging is a feeling of community; it is the people and our culture that make us feel connected.”

LaFawn when on to say that when those three elements are adroitly combined, we feel valued: 

“In the workplace, it’s not about looking like me or coming from where I come from. It’s about those common threads that pull us together.”

The Business Case for Workplace Diversity

Of course, many business leaders remain focused on the bottom line. So after talking with LaFawn about the undeniable systemic racism in the US today, I asked her how diversity, inclusion, and belonging impact that bottom line. LaFawn, as you can imagine, has some strong feelings about how leadership should be leveraging workplace diversity to build better companies.

“This should be what keeps every single business leader up at night,” she emphatically said. “Are we going to be a different and better company than we are right now? Ten years from now? 15? I mean, we know that businesses with a more diverse workforce are 36 percent more likely to be in the top tier of their industry. And we know that firms with greater gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to be at the top for financial returns, market share, and retention. So diversity, inclusion, and belonging do affect your bottom line!”

LaFawn and I also talked about how these three elements have been hit hard by the pandemic. Specifically, how the need to transform to a remote workforce and the stress the pandemic has placed on frontline workers impacts the ability to intentionally create and maintain a diverse workforce. We also discussed the role hiring has in creating workplace diversity and the mistakes commonly made as organizations work to include people of color, women, and other groups who feel marginalized in their workforce — those who do not feel they belong.

Looking Ahead to 2021

If you haven’t already, your organization will soon start taking a hard look at how diversity, inclusion, and belonging will look in 2021. Before you do, I invite you to listen to my conversation with LaFawn. In 20+ minutes, you’ll understand how she has helped Indeed build an innovative workforce. You’ll also learn how she has helped many other organizations — starting with hiring — create organizations where equality and parity become the norm. And where that norm becomes a critical component of the company culture.

My thanks to LaFawn Davis for joining me on #WorkTrends and for participating in our upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter chat at 1:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, December 16th. During that chat, we’ll answer these questions and more:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with building diversity?
  • Q2: What strategies can help increase inclusion and belonging?
  • Q3: How can leaders build more diverse workplaces?

Our thanks also to Indeed for sponsoring this timely episode of #WorkTrends. 

 

Find LaFawn on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Sergey Nivens

A Modern-Day Book Burning: Why Is Diversity Training So Controversial?

It’s an understatement to say the past several months have been a troubling time for those of us committed to racial equity and broader diversity, inclusion, and belonging. And now, with attempts to stifle delivery of diversity training designed to counter racially-motivated injustices, the atmosphere has the feel of a modern-day book burning.

The Black Lives Matter movement that began after the acquittal in the murder trial of Trayvon Martin seven years ago reignited as people took to the streets in extraordinary numbers to demand justice. The horror of George Floyd’s murder, so closely following the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbury, occurred as the COVID-19 crisis hit communities of color hardest. An explosion of activism, alongside calls for police reform, followed. Protestors shined a light on the systemic racism that continues to repress people of color in our country. Companies and organizations around the world offered statements of commitment and support for the movement.

Equal and Opposite Reaction

However, as Isaac Newton postulated, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Sadly, overt white supremacy (as well as more subtle examples of racial injustice) found a stronger foothold. Rather than addressing racially motivated police brutality, too many leaders politicized the social movement, attempting to frame it as a Republican-versus-Democrat, us-versus-them issue. In particular, one leader seemed more interested in discrediting the isolated incidents of violence during the protests than taking up issues of systemic racism cared about by the mostly peaceful protestors.

Nonetheless, undeterred people across the country, representing a diverse array of backgrounds and ethnicities, have come together in solidarity. They vow to make a difference in their communities, workplaces, and individual lives. Simultaneously, numerous books on racial inequities have emerged on bestseller lists. The result? Many Americans, many for the first time, are coming to understand the impact structural racism has on society.

Corporate America Steps Up

Companies have begun or have reinvigorated conversations about biases in hiring practices, micro-inequities and micro-advantages, and racial disparities for under-represented groups. Even in our economically challenging times, new efforts to educate people in organizations of every kind have emerged. But, not everyone is on board with the discussions. Detractors question the message and the time and monetary investment. Many see the ideas inherent in diversity training conversations as an affront to their personal values and a threat to a system that serves them well.

These attacks, based almost entirely on misrepresentations of intention and methodology of our work — and even out and out lies — put many in the crosshairs. The never-ending attacks also led to the drafting of an executive order to attempt a modern-day book burning. Specifically, the order banned several kinds of diversity education within the government and subsequently from government contractors. Fortunately, the results of the election mean that this action will likely be short-lived. Still, even as 1,500-plus CEOs sign the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, resistance to the work remains significant.

Systemic Bias Remains

And yet, systemic patterns of bias remain in existence — perhaps because they benefit somebody. People whose group dominance gives them advantages based on the current system are not anxious to relinquish those advantages. And because those advantages have been around before any of us were born, people with privilege may not even see them as advantages. That is an inherent quality of privilege — to not have to acknowledge that it exists, even to oneself! These patterns of dominance and privilege occur as “the way the world works.” In either case, educational efforts, like diversity training, affirmative action, or any other attempts to deconstruct white, male, heterosexual, or other forms of hegemony, can be perceived as a direct threat to people who benefit from the existing system.

The reasons for this are varied – and worth examining. Some have these underpinnings:

Stereotyping Based on Race

Incidents of unfair treatment based on race abound. From the episode of a Starbucks employee calling the police on two Black men harmlessly sitting at a table to two Middle Eastern passengers kicked off a Chicago flight for speaking Arabic. These aren’t so much a series of individual instances as much as they are an endemic pattern. Yet people tend to think we’re immune to biases and stereotyping – and they consequently have a greater likelihood of unconsciously denigrating people in nondominant groups.

Constructions of the Unconscious Mind

Our perceptions and our social judgments are all constructed by our unconscious mind. They form from the limited information that we interpret through the expectations we have, the context in which we see a situation, and what we hope to get out of a problem. This means that, when we observe a person or situation, our unconscious memory guides our reaction. It operates quickly and instinctively, driven by visceral, emotional responses. In turn, these judgments lead us to see people within the context we’ve developed about “those kinds” of people. Toward people who we’ve been conditioned to feel are like us, we’re more positively disposed. As makes sense, we’re more negatively disposed to those we feel are not.

Selective Attention

It’s not uncommon for people to direct their attention to particular groups and behaviors while at the same time remaining completely blind to others. Members of the dominant group – which in the U.S. generally means white, male, Christian, and heterosexual – are often unaware, for example, that people are more likely to talk over women in business meetings and to give their full attention to the men. Many behaviors taking place around us daily often go unnoticed. We see what we look for, and we look for what we know.

Who, for example, do we see doing something wrong? And who do we neglect to notice exhibiting the same behavior?

Groupthink

So many of our personal biases are not personal at all. They’re deeply influenced by the cultures and groups with whom we associate. This becomes obvious when we look at the hundreds of historical examples where ordinary people got caught up in a sort of collective societal madness and turned on their fellow citizens. Our group associations and beliefs deeply influence us. Life is more comfortable when we fit in with the group around us. Yet, at some point, we stop thinking because the group thinks for us.

Consider thought patterns that go unchallenged. For example, the prevailing thought that those people who go to certain schools are better people. Or that people in a certain socio-economic group are “our kind of people.”

Diversity Training = Acceptance of Responsibility

When people hear about concepts of white power, white privilege, and white supremacy in diversity training, they often don’t feel it describes them. They see themselves as good, well-intentioned people. No, these concepts don’t necessarily mean that every white person has more access, money, or even safety than every person of color. They do, though, mean the system makes it easier, safer, and more accessible as a whole to be white. Privilege also allows us not to pay attention or be unaware of what others have to deal with.

Disparities continue in virtually every area of our lives. Based on societal suspicions and fears, people of color constantly walk a tight rope. A tight rope that has them teetering on the brink of disaster. It’s past time for us to take responsibility. Diversity education is a first step in acknowledging the past injustices. And understanding how the past has given us patterns of being in a society that is advantageous to the dominant group. It helps us recognize patterns that have impacted us personally. It allows us to change behaviors enough to end the pattern.

There Will Always Be Resistance

Systems do not want to change. They are, after all, perfectly designed to produce exactly the result that they are producing. However, my personal 35-year experience in the field has taught me that we just have to keep moving forward. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, one of the founders of General Systems Theory, called it equifinality: many roads to the same place. If education is delayed, focus on systems and structures, leadership development, or coaching. Or perhaps turn your attention to developing employee resources groups or putting in better measurement systems. There are dozens of other ways to address the challenge. Whatever it takes, keep moving forward.

As practitioners, we must keep an eye on what moves the system, as opposed to only paying attention to what drives us. As the old saying goes:

“When you go fishing, you bait the hook with what the fish likes to eat, not what you like to eat.”

Essentially, the ultimate purpose of diversity training is to fulfill the American Dream: That all people are created equal, and all have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As for the detractors? Don’t let fools get you down.

Remember, as Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 

 

Photo by Rawpixel

The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Building Workforce Diversity

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the business case for workforce diversity. So why are companies still failing to achieve their diversity goals?

Diversity has become a higher priority on the corporate agenda. Simultaneously, the business case for workforce diversity is now well evidenced (especially by McKinsey & Company, where analysts have been tracking the performance of more diverse companies for years). And yet, many organizations still struggle with ‘why’ diversity programs fail and the ‘how’ of doing diversity well.

Perhaps outreach programs are successful, but few candidates make it to the final selection stage? Perhaps diverse early career talent is easier to onboard, but fewer diverse candidates progress into senior leadership? In our work, we often find organizations undermine their own efforts. Quite often, through the use of a flawed recruitment and assessment process.

Biased decision making can creep into any stage of the hiring or development process, creating a disadvantage for minority groups. In other cases, inadvertent use of tactics that offer an advantage to those with access to exclusive knowledge or education occurs. These tactics perpetuate a cycle that maintains the status quo and prevents diversity from flourishing.

At Sova, we’ve long championed fairness and equality in recruitment and career progression. As occupational psychologists, one of our main goals in designing assessment is to provide a truly objective view of a candidate. We see it as our role to help companies go beyond the CV to make better, unbiased, and fair decisions about talent.

‘Why’ the Selection Process Goes Wrong

Before we talk about how we can improve diversity through fair selection processes, it’s useful to highlight some of the areas where we see diversity fail. These failures happen even when recruitment and HR teams invest in better diversity through actions such as targeted advertising, tailored marketing materials, and broader outreach programs:

  • The interview process starts with killer questions, such as asking which university the candidate attended, which is unfair when the candidate relies on knowledge or experience that isn’t available to all.
  • Too much emphasis on the CV screen effectively defines people through past achievements rather than their future potential.
  • Reliance on academic achievement, often linked to educational opportunity, makes those from more disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to be considered.
  • A reliance on unstructured interviews has been shown by extensive research to typically be much less predictive than either structured interviews or other more objective assessment measures.
  • Traditional assessments, such as a series of verbal and numerical reasoning tests, act as a hurdle race, potentially excluding otherwise suitable candidates.
  • Poorly designed assessments that lack scientific rigor bring a degree of embedded bias; some rely on exclusive knowledge of lifestyle habits or culture.
  • Assessors at assessment centers who are not well trained in managing unconscious bias impact fair selection; so does the center’s content when it favors particular groups.
  • We often fail to collect the right data; that data must be readily available and frequently reviewed.

‘How’ to Improve Workforce Diversity During Recruitment

Here are five practical changes that improve hiring processes and facilitate fairer decision making:

1. Consider carefully and thoughtfully what “good” looks like for your organization.

The definition of good needs to be through a wide lens and with the scope of diversity in mind. Rather than addressing one aspect, think about what diverse talent means as a whole. Consider how you describe what you look for in a candidate. Ask if your description might be perceived as exclusive when framed without thought to diversity. For example, have a broad range of people provide feedback on a job description and posting.

2. In designing your process, think about which techniques are fairest.

Have an inclusive approach to design. Gather insight into how others interpret your process design. Questions and assessment content need to be objective and not discriminate based on access to specific knowledge exclusive to some. Having input into the design from a diverse group is also essential, so gather different viewpoints on the assessment.

3. Thoroughly monitor the success of your assessment process.

Take the time and care to measure easier to acquire metrics such as gender. Also, gather data over the longer term – for example, who gets promoted. To see the whole picture, keep sight of all the assessments in your process and across all groups. Link to this data routinely and review it in real-time, not only on an annual basis.

4. Use analytics to learn which parts of your journey – or which questions and content – are working fairly and which are not.

Layout the parts of your process shown to be generating unfair responses. Then consider whether to change them or remove them. For example, are certain questions excluding those qualified applicants without a university education? Or are you excluding candidates based on language or numeracy skills not applicable to that specific job?

Once you’ve built the business case for diversity, the next step is to practically put in place a new process that will result in fairer outcomes. Diversity strategy guides the organization, of course. But without practical application at every stage of recruitment, assessment, and development, organizations will struggle to truly make a difference in their workforce diversity.

To learn more about leveling the playing field through fair assessment in hiring and development, you can download Sova’s free white paper: Leveling the Playing Field.

 

This post sponsored by Sova Assessment.

 

Fauxels

Job Descriptions: How to Eliminate the Hidden Bias Within

In an era where more people than ever are fighting for social justice, why do job descriptions still contain hidden bias? And what is the impact of bias – intentional or not.

In a typical job description, there are enough typos and grammar mistakes to make you wonder if proof-reading ever happened. There are often too many formatting issues to count. And then there are those baffling internal acronyms. (If you knew those, you’d already work there!) In the end, it’s next to impossible to determine what a person in that role does and why they do it – let alone ascertain if you’re qualified for the position. Frustrating!

And yet there is an even bigger problem with far too many job descriptions: Hidden bias.

The Effort to Decrease Bias and Increase Diversity

We all have our personal preferences. You might like crunchy peanut butter, while your best friend might prefer creamy. However, when it comes to hiring practices, there’s no place for personal preferences. The official hiring policies of any company must be impartial, as stated in anti-discrimination legislation outlined by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Still, even in well-regarded organizations, unconscious bias exists. Many take steps to combat these all-too-human impulses. They work hard to make their hiring practices more egalitarian. Despite the best of intentions, however, these efforts are often less than successful. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, most workplace diversity programs aren’t actually increasing diversity. Consider that among all US companies with 100 or more employees:

  • From 1985 to 2014, the proportion of black men in management increased just slightly from 3% to 3.3%
  • From 1985 to 2000, white women in management roles rose from 22% to 29% but haven’t budged past that 29% figure since the turn of the century

Why haven’t we made more progress? As Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev stated in HBR: “Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better.”

Gender Bias: An Obvious Culprit

Research has shown that one of the biggest areas of failure in job description bias is gender-based. In fact, one research paper published by social scientists from the University of Waterloo and Duke University stated gendered language in job descriptions remains prevalent.

The study found that job descriptions for positions traditionally associated with men use language that may unconsciously deter women from applying for these positions. Researchers also discovered that job descriptions biased towards men often include language more associated with being proactive and taking charge of the situation. With traditional societal roles associating men with action and empowerment more than women, female applicants opt out of applying. “Often these women take more submissive – or at least more historically female roles, like nurses, kindergarten teachers and administrative assistants.

The conclusion: In job descriptions, the use of male-associated pronouns like “his” – rather than the female-associated “her” or the more gender-neutral “the person” – significantly impacts who applies for each position. Even worse, those gender-specific pronouns have a profound effect on who gets hired.

Bias Hiding in Plain Sight

At this point, it may be clear the language used in job descriptions is very much influenced by the bias of the person writing the job descriptions. Sometimes these biases are unconscious, such as in the case of culturally-reinforced gender roles. However, sometimes bias in job descriptions is more conscious. This happens most often when a hiring manager is actively looking to subtly discourage certain classes of applicants even while adhering to corporate diversity policies and EEOC regulations. For example:

“For this role, we’re looking for a strong, ‘All-American boy’ type. Must be well-mannered, well-groomed, well-spoken and respectful to the customers.”

Do you hear the bias? This hiring manager is most likely looking for a young, able-bodied, white, heterosexual, well-educated male that most likely comes from an affluent family. And yet the hiring manager deftly avoided including any of those demographics in the job description.

This hiring manager may be sneaky-good at getting around policies and laws. But his bias is hiding in plain sight.

Fixing the Problem

In the above example, the job description followed the letter of the law. Technically, the hiring manager did nothing wrong. And yet, the wrong isn’t only present – it is blatant. This raises the question of whether or not fixing the problem of biased language in job descriptions is practical, perhaps even possible. And yet the problem is being attacked on many fronts.

The Harvard Business Review published an article by cognitive scientist Frida Polli to address both conscious and unconscious hiring bias. In the article, Ms. Polli claimed using artificial intelligence might be one way to solve the problem of bias. The reality is, though, this solution is dependent on so many factors – including AI’s ability to learn bias through practical experience – that it can’t be considered the best possible answer at the moment.

The human approach, at least so far, hasn’t fared much better. Lobbying efforts designed to create systemic change in corporate policies that would eliminate biased language in job descriptions has become a Sisyphean effort. Again, despite the best of intentions, there is no social proof that “diversity training” – mandated or not – is especially effective.

So is there a solution? Must we continue to tolerate job descriptions beset with biases that read one way but mean something completely different?

Worth Doing Right

No, we don’t. We Human Resources professionals can fix this.

Why us? First, let’s understand there is no group of job seekers powerful enough to change this dynamic. That means the responsibility falls on us. And as the old saying goes: “If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

So what does “doing it right” mean? In three steps:

  1. We must learn how to discover, decipher and translate biased job descriptions; sharing our knowledge enables us to stop even unintentional bias from appearing on our websites, our chosen job boards, or anywhere else.
  2. We must leverage our collective knowledge of the corporate doublespeak which hiring managers use to discourage certain types of applicants; together, we must become not just the job description police, we must become the judge and jury.
  3. Before we can begin to eliminate bias within our own companies, we must secure unwavering top-down support from the C-suite; we simply can’t accept all the responsibility without having any authority.

But we’re not done yet. To create and sustain a company culture free of bias – intentional or not – we must drag the offending job descriptions into the conscience of our company. We must deliberately yet respectfully draw attention to these unethical practices and the damage and hurt caused by biased language. If we don’t, we’ll always be fixing what’s wrong instead of doing what we know is right.

The Last Word

Poorly written job descriptions are more than just a frustrating nuisance to job seekers; they often serve as home to hidden bias. They are social proof of an unhealthy company culture. Even worse, they are indicative of systemic injustice that impacts the lives and careers of women, the disabled, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and specific religions or nationalities.

We in HR know better. Together, we can do better.

 

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Promoting Diversity and Maintaining an Inclusive Culture

As the spotlight has brightened on racism. In response to recent miscarriages of justice, the emphasis on identifying racism within other aspects of life has also grown. As business leaders, it is vital to stand with the advocacy for change. Although oftentimes difficult, encouraging honest discussions around diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is crucial. 

For many, this conversation is not new. Dated ideologies and racist operations have influenced hiring practices regularly. Those out-of-date paradigms have also permitted a single race and gender to employ higher positions for decades. According to Fortune, high-ranking officials within 16 of the Fortune 500 companies are 80% men, and 72% of those men are white. In order to break this flawed mold and implement diversity, much work has to be done by industry leaders. 

The Advantages of Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity

Fostering a diverse and inclusive organization has many benefits such as increased profit, impressive talent acquisition, as well as the strengthening of employee bonds. Yes, conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity can be difficult. However, this is the opportune time for leaders to disrupt archaic norms. And it is the perfect time to implement hiring practices that seek out brilliant talent from every background. 

So, what can business owners and leaders do to promote diversity and maintain an inclusive culture? With these advantages below, leaders across any industry can recognize the essential nature of workplace diversity. 

Financial Gain 

From a business standpoint, racial diversity in the workplace isn’t merely a perk. In fact, diversity is a necessity for competitiveness in corporate America. Not only do inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, but many consumers actively seek out organizations with diverse decision-makers. Additionally, these brands can also build stronger audience connections. 

Further, it is no secret that marketing a business can be difficult. However, inclusive marketing can be a different beast altogether. Within marketing, there is a heavy lack of cultural intelligence from brands, and this void can result in minimized profits as some audiences won’t purchase from you due to a lack of acknowledgment. Campaigns without cultural intelligence run the risk of coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive. They perhaps then result in public outcry, concluding in a company apology with a promise to “do better.” 

By investing in employees with different perspectives, lived experiences, and understandings of diverse markets, you can promote your business from several unique standpoints and gain a competitive edge. This allows a separation from competitors, and perhaps engagement from consumers outside of initial target audiences. Subsequently, you can net greater profits, while exhibiting your care for people of different races, genders, ages, sexualities, and identities. 

Expanded Talent Pool 

 For most leaders in the highly competitive business world, acquiring the best talent is priority. Exclusively employing talent of a particular ethnicity, age, or gender minimizes the talent pool you can choose from. With that said, having an organization run by one race or gender can only reflect narrow perspectives. That scenario, perhaps inadvertently, also demonstrates to the public that you don’t recognize a necessity for diverse opinions.

Hiring with cultural diversity in mind — which encapsulates race, culture, age, religion, sexuality, and gender identity — expands your talent pool. This expansion permits your organization to solely focus on what candidates can bring to the table such as: skill sets, experience, and creativity. By eradicating those subconsciously biased candidate limitations, you can prioritize and encourage mind-expansion and exploration for your company. This can equate to bigger, brighter innovations that may not have been otherwise explored. This eradication also improves your brand’s attractiveness and invites new consumers. 

As your organization flourishes due to new minds with intersectional inputs, your brand has the opportunity to convey a modern attractiveness that invites more talent acquisition, fortuitous business opportunities and more financially prosperous avenues. 

Better Engagement and Satisfaction 

As one can probably imagine, being a “token” person of color in the workplace isn’t fun. When employees work amongst others who look like them or share lived experiences, a workplace confidence is bred, thus inspiring collaboration, innovation and creativity to take place. 

Employees need their ideas, opinions and perspectives to matter. Likewise, employees want to work for a company that entrusts people like them who also actively advocate for positive change. When employees feel respected and valued, especially if they may have endured ridicule in the past, aspects of work like productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction within the workplace is improved. 

This is vital because boosts in company morale and workplace culture only benefit your organization. Happy employees equate to enhanced production, which equates to higher brand attractiveness and in turn, increased company profits. 

Maintaining an Understanding Organization and Prioritizing Inclusion

In efforts to promote diversity within your organization, below are a few strategies to help start off the process of consistently seeking to be more understanding and inclusive.

Take an Honest Internal Look

How do you assess the current state of diversity within your organization? Analyze how many people of color you currently employ, as well as previously hired and sought out for recruitment. This can provide insight on the level of (or lack of) diversity. This data can also show any discriminatory biases that occur within your company, unknowingly or otherwise. 

Consistently Educate Yourself and Your Staff

There are many misconceptions around what discrimination looks like. So it is important to outline what words and behaviors are unacceptable at work. Teach your staff about micro-aggressions and what discrimination may look like to people of various, intersecting backgrounds. In addition to this, be sure to emphasize the impacts of discrimination, big or small, and stress a no-tolerance policy. 

Promote an Open Dialogue

In efforts to grasp difficult topics, learn from each other and get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage employees to unpack biases and/or racist tendencies. Emphasize how harmful it is to act on those beliefs. During these discussions, tread lightly. After all, you don’t want to offend employees, Nor do you want to force someone to discuss personal adversity.  

As industry leaders, this is your chance to spearhead positive change by implementing workplace diversity and inclusivity. It is important to note that no one has all the “right” answers respective to ending discrimination in the workplace. No one can tell you exactly how to eradicate biases. Nonetheless, these issues are serious. And organizations must diligently protect those at risk of enduring injustices.

Overall, focus on harmonizing the workplace by creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone — irrespective of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability, identity, and/or religion.

Photo: Ricardo Resende

Is Diversity Baked Into Your Hiring Process?

A few years ago, we were asked to help a market leader that was intent on changing its culture to be more creative and innovative. (Sound familiar?) The company was spending a million dollars on messaging and elaborate company meetings to help “get the word out” and create excitement for this new, transformative initiative.

But even as its leaders spoke eloquently about the need for change — even hiring a guru to guide their efforts — few process changes were made, and they were hesitant to reconsider the kind of people they hired. They talked of needing people who were “cultural fits” even as they held meetings in which they touted the need for cultural change and disruption.

Why traditional hiring practices backfire

The company’s hiring practices were similar to those we see in most organizations, perhaps even your own. After candidates were identified, an internal team of “high performers,” along with HR representatives, reviewed the applicants’ résumés to ensure they had the requisite experience. Unfortunately, this meant most applicant experiences were similar. The unintended result? A candidate pool with little experiential diversity.

But it didn’t end there. After “qualified” candidates interviewed with the hiring teams, they were ranked by the group. If any members of the hiring team had a concern about a person, those concerns were noted. Strong objections by a couple of group members, as a practical matter, were enough to give a candidate the boot.

Predictably, the least objectionable candidate — who typically looked, acted, and thought like other members of the group — became the team’s preferred choice.

If we want change, we need to expect challenges

When we asked the hiring team how the hiring process supported a culture of innovation, team members told us that their hiring criteria included experience in helping organizations change.

Pushing back, we asked the team to consider which types of people would contribute different and creative ideas. What employee characteristics would help the organization change? For instance, had they valued people who were:

  • Diverse in race, ethnicity, and background?
  • Rarely satisfied with the status quo?
  • Impatient and not always willing to take “no” for an answer without significant debate?
  • Disruptive, at times disagreeable, and willing to question authority?
  • Not easily managed?
  • At times, slow and hesitant to make decisions based on what was done last year? (Creativity takes time.)
  • Unwilling to go along just to get along?

 Their response neatly framed their hiring challenges:

“Why would we hire someone who is hard to manage, never satisfied, and always questioning what we do? We’re pretty good here, you know. If we hired people who we knew would consistently challenge what we learned yesterday, we’d never get anything done.”

We say we want change, but do we?

Yes, we say we want to change. We say we want creativity. We say we need diversity, but do we honestly believe it?

The truth is, even if we’re committed to recruiting more diverse teams, we’re often painfully unaware of how our hiring processes give preference to people who are more like us. As a result, we often allow the long-term effects of our biases, knowingly or unknowingly, to be hidden in our collective consciousness, in our culture. Over time, groups that cling to such processes tend to become more homogeneous, not less.

Even when we manage to hire authentically diverse teams — composed of different backgrounds, races, genders, ages, perspectives, and beliefs — we expect everyone to come together in a fabled “kumbaya” moment.

True diversity begins with intention

Recruiting a more diverse and successful team begins with intention. The kind of intention that’s required is more than a desire or wish. It’s a conscious, mindful choice based on a belief that diversity is critical to the team’s success. It requires that we create processes that are built for diversity. Our preference for people who look and think and act like us is strong and can only be overcome with a structured commitment to embrace people who often make us uncomfortable.

So, where should we start? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start early. It’s easier to become diverse before biases have become ingrained in our hiring practices.
  2. Be clear on the type of people you hope to hire. Do they share your values? Are they competent? Good thinkers? Willing to change? Ready to speak truth to power? Confident? Good leaders? Having clarity is a necessary first step to building a successful hiring process.
  3. Recruit blindly. Superficial aspects of a person’s bio often outweigh an applicant’s talent or potential. The fix? Implement a blind submissions process — stripping away names, ages, and gender. Create a process in which people cannot “see” the applicants when initially judging their competence.
  4. Put more diversity, of all types, on your hiring team. The research on this is clear: a diverse hiring team will recruit more diverse members.
  5. Expand your personal and professional networks. Our personal preferences are affected by our experiences. For example, research shows that fathers with daughters are more likely to hire women. Having more experience with an unrepresented group makes their inclusion more likely.
  6. Confront bias when you see it. When we tolerate bias, we teach that it’s acceptable.

Learning to appreciate our differences — and to embrace diversity — is what ultimately fuels an organization’s competitive advantage. Only when people challenge us to think and act differently can we create the remarkable. So, let’s get to it.

Photo: Paul Bryan

#WorkTrends: The Bigot in Your Mental Boardroom

WorkTrends has been focusing on diversity and inclusion not as buzzwords, but as actions. Meghan invited Elena Joy Thurston to the podcast to share her story. Elena is the founder and speaker of the PRIDE and Joy Foundation and has developed compelling best practices for improving workplace inclusivity. The conversation hit on a fascinating reality: we all have a mental boardroom and usually, there’s a hidden bigot at the table. 

So what exactly is a mental boardroom? “The boardroom is really about realizing what stories we all work from in our heads — our suppositions or assumptions,” said Elena. Acknowledging that, noted Meghan, helps us understand that everyone has their own biases, and we may not even realize where they come from. It may be hard to do, but self-awareness and reflection are the first steps: it takes critical distance to be able to see the roots of our own judgment. 

“I do the work by watching my own reactions,” said Elena. We need to be comfortable enough to work through our own emotions, and find the bias at the source. The more that can happen at the workplace, the more people can start to understand each other. 

Meghan concurred that bringing this unconscious bias to the surface will spark real growth in the work culture. Just a gesture as simple as making space for gender pronouns on an RSVP can help the LGBTQ community feel valued, for instance. Added Elena, when someone can bring their whole self to work and not feel judged, it’s so much easier to get our work done. 

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do work cultures struggle with inclusiveness? #WorkTrends
Q2: Why are some workplaces hard for LGTBQ employees? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders boost inclusiveness in their organizations? #WorkTrends

Find Elana Joy Thurston on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Diego Jimenez

#WorkTrends: Leading Organizations to Resilience and Diversity

No question: businesses and employees are going through a lot. The pivot to remote. Changing laws and regulations (sometimes overnight). Safety — and not just physical, but emotional as well. How should we best deal with the pressures of working amid brand-new and vexing circumstances? Get resilient, so instead of crashing from the stress, we bounce back.

Meghan brought Melissa Lamson, CEO of Lamson Consulting, to #WorkTrends for a timely meeting of the minds. Melissa offered best practices on how leaders can foster resilience among their workforce — and explained why diversity is so critical right now.

As Meghan noted, leaders are quickly learning “how to really lean in on the people side, to practice emotional intelligence and empathy and interpersonal skills” — and helping their businesses grow in understanding. And some of their strength is coming from admitting they don’t know it all. They’re willing to be vulnerable, and employees appreciate that.  

And as Melissa added, that kind of openness also helps leaders ask the right questions: “What is the best way to do this? How do we reopen the workplaces? How do we come back together in face-to-face collaboration? What does that look like? What kinds of guidelines and rules do we need to do this safely and effectively?”  

It’s really all about listening, said Melissa. Doing so makes it possible to tend to our company culture over the long-term, Meghan pointed out. Then, keep practicing what we preach  — open communication, honesty, transparency — to lead our organizations into a state of resilience. That’s going to be a key part of success going forward. 

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with resilience? #WorkTrends
Q2: How does diversity play into an organization’s resilience? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help increase resilience and diversity in their organizations?  #WorkTrends

Find Melissa Lamson on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: mentatdgt

Cultivating Employee Trust in Today’s Workplace

Trust plays a role not just in employee recruitment and retention, but in everything from the benefits employers offer to their cultural norms. As leaders welcome Gen Z  into the workplace, they’re learning that this generation insists on transparency and trust in a way that prior ones simply did not.

Frankly, today’s employees have high expectations. Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer found that 73% expect to have the opportunity to help shape the future of society. The same percentage say they expect to be included in company planning. 

Evident among younger employees, in particular, are four trust-related trends:

1. Flexible work is becoming a table-stakes benefit. 

The giant leap that technology has made over the last decade means most employees are now able to work from home. Many now see that as a right rather than a privilege earned with trust.

According to FlexJobs, which leases coworking space to companies, 80% of the 7,300 surveyed workers said they’d be more loyal to their employer if it gave them flexible work options. More than half (52%) have attempted to negotiate such arrangements themselves.

It’s understandable that many employers are hesitant to give workers total freedom to work when and where they want. But technology — the very thing that has made this trend possible in the first place — can also be used to create accountability. Communication platforms like Slack show when workers are online, and time-tracking tools can ensure they spend their time in ways that are actually valuable to the company. 

2. Employers and employees are monitoring each other’s online activity.

It’s been true for some time that employees and employers research the other online before a hire is made. But now, they’re scouting each other’s social media accounts on a near-daily basis.

The question in many HR circles is no longer whether to hire someone because of past social media posts, but whether new ones might be worth firing someone over. And it’s no longer just illegal activity that raises eyebrows: Employees and employers are on the lookout for bigotry, culturally insensitive comments, and even relationships with questionable individuals. 

Make clear to employees that your company is watching, but do so in a positive, uplifting way. From brand accounts, interact with employees’ social profiles. Go ahead and share that post from a worker who just ran a 5K. If they ask for contractor recommendations for an upcoming roof repair, why not comment with a referral to someone who re-shingled the office?

3. Diversity is gaining attention as a professional-development advantage.

The broader the range of backgrounds a company has, the more its members can learn from one another. As people learn from each other, they build trust — gaining insights into their work and seeing the world from another’s perspective can strengthen ties. Tracey Grace, CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts, credits the company’s diverse workforce with “keeping the company fresh and me growing.”

SurveyMonkey data suggests that Gen Z employees understand this as well. Almost three times as many members of diverse companies told the pollster they plan to stay with their current employer for five years or more.

Reiterate that mentorship programs are open to everyone, and try to pair diverse mentors and mentees. Encourage women and members of racial minorities, in particular, to pursue growth in technical fields, where they’re often underrepresented. 

4. Workers aren’t waiting around for things to get better.

Employment tenures have been trending downward for years. Just 10% of Baby Boomers have left a job for mental health reasons. But according to a survey of 1,500 young people from Mind Share Partners, three-quarters of Gen Zers asked have done so.

Every role at every company will experience stress at some point. But while older generations could be trusted to tough it out at least for a few months, many younger workers react by immediately sharpening their resume.

Make company challenges an open conversation. Encourage workers to speak up if they are struggling. Be generous with support, whether through a part-time helper or additional development opportunities, when asked for it. 

Everywhere you look, distrust has redefined the ways employees and employers interact with one another. But many of the changes it’s produced are clearly not: Flexible work environments encourage people to work when and where they feel most comfortable. Growth opportunities can and should be given to everyone so they can both earn trust with others and extend trust in return. If distrust is what it takes to get to happier workplaces, then so be it.