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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

Photo by Fauxels

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.

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.

How Could Future Workplaces Work Better for People with Disabilities?

According to a major study by Accenture, a direct link can now be drawn between a company’s overall profitability and its inclusiveness of people with disabilities. The data found that people with disabilities are underemployed — in the U.S., 29 percent were employed, compared with 75 percent of those without a listed disability — and that organizations that stand out for leadership in areas related to disability inclusion performed better in key financial metrics.

The study directly addresses one of the basic drives in any business: return on investment. It’s part of a growing body of literature that highlights the importance of a strong focus on inclusivity when it comes to hiring, continuous development and the makeup of a company’s workforce. The ethics of inclusion programs and a push for more diversity within any organization are clear, but this study makes the case for disability inclusion’s value as a direct driver of profit. This makes it clear that it’s not only a moral imperative to cater to as broad a pool of potential staff as possible, but also that it actually pays to do so.

In business, the bottom line is often king at the expense of other considerations. As such, simply adhering to laws such as the U.K.’s Equality Act by providing reasonable adjustments for staff with disabilities can sometimes be thought of as a hindrance to profits. But these attitudes have changed a lot in recent years, and we’re at a stage now across industries where employers aren’t looking to work out how to dodge their responsibilities but are going above and beyond in providing for as many people as possible.

Here are some key considerations when it comes to making sure your place of work is catering to as broad a pool of talent as possible, whether that’s prospective employees or those already working within your organization.

Hiring Using Algorithms Is the Future — but Be Careful

HR decision making is increasingly automated, and with the proliferation of readily available data about potential job candidates through public platforms such as LinkedIn, this trend is surely here to stay. The use of algorithms to filter out unsuitable candidates helps cut costs and contributes to a streamlined and efficient recruitment process. AI and machine learning will only further improve this kind of activity as technology continues to develop.

There are, however, limits to the powers of this process. It’s important to understand just how fallible algorithms are. No matter how complex an algorithm gets, existing biases are always embedded within. Therefore, in an ideal world, hard screening decisions should not be made solely by algorithmic processes, at least for the foreseeable future.

If your organization filters candidate lists using AI-based processes, with human oversight coming at a later stage — for example, if you routinely get a high volume of applications — it’s important to be aware of the fact that your algorithms are imperfect. This should naturally lead to a culture of continuous auditing, modification and improvement to your selection processes. Spot checks can be carried out on decisions made by your preferred algorithm by enlisting a member of HR staff to evaluate a random sample of applications and see if there’s a difference in results. When doing this, it’s important to heavily focus on potential biases on both sides — machine and human.

Pushing the Boundaries of ‘Reasonable’ in ‘Reasonable Adjustments’

The U.K.’s Equality Act 2010 sets out legal protections against discrimination in the workplace. It describes the “reasonable adjustments” that must be made to facilitate employees (prospective or current) who may face obstacles in the organization. The definition of “reasonable” here is key, as well as ambiguous. And it’s this ambiguity and businesses’ attitudes toward it that are crucial.

A lot depends on how big the business is. Larger organizations will find it easier to afford the resources to make expensive adjustments for staff members. Smaller organizations are not obliged to bankrupt themselves to make accommodations — for example, by buying land to create closer parking spaces for employees unable to walk long distances.

However, companies should better understand the provisions available from the government, and always seek to work with local schemes and charities. Primarily, this means engaging with the U.K.’s Access to Work program. Through this, staff can gain grants for equipment, aids, adaptations or support worker assistance. The program can also provide additional assistance to employees in getting to and from work.

Instead of seeing this exercise as a means to tick a box, the best employers will have HR practitioners who have a deep knowledge of and working experience with the Access to Work scheme, and will know how to present a compelling case for their staff who require or would flourish with adaptations that can be sourced through these means.

Examples of Disability-Friendly Practices

There are a number of practical points that most organizations can take action on when it comes to welcoming a diverse workforce. Deciding which are actually implemented depends on the state of your staff as a whole, and finding out which areas to focus on can be done through regular feedback from employees, pulse surveys and engendering an open and honest environment.

  • Make physical adaptations and remove physical barriers. This could mean straightforward changes like the installation of a wheelchair ramp.
  • Ensure training and information is provided in accessible formats.
  • Offer specialist training.
  • Invite inclusion-focused guest speakers at in-work functions or meetings.
  • Encourage flexible working patterns and remote working where possible.

A digital tool like Clear Talents can be used as the foundation for profiling your staff so that your organization can be proactive in determining which adaptations are required and implemented. Actively seeking out case studies in related fields is also excellent practice.

The Business Disability Forum is an excellent resource for this type of activity and can signpost important initiatives

#WorkTrends: How to Bring People Together at Work

One day labor relations consultant Jason Greer received a call from a manager, asking if he’d lead a diversity training session at his company. When Greer asked why, the manager offered two reasons: “I love the way you communicate,” he said. “And you’re the only black guy that I really know.”

This radical candor actually endeared the manager to Greer, and it set the tone for the approach Greer uses in his diversity training. In addition to his work in labor relations, he’s known nationwide for his diversity training programs. Greer joins us this week for a deep dive on how we can improve diversity training and the importance of committing to the difficult conversations.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Challenges of Diversity Training

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to a diversity training session. They’re not typically something you excitedly circle on your calendar.

But why is that? We all aspire to a more inclusive, diverse workplace. But there’s something about these sessions that can make us uncomfortable, Greer says: We’re not honest with ourselves.

In theory, he says, we’re all treated equally in an organization. We’re judged based on our merits and productivity, regardless of our background. But when we leave, we often associate with people who have backgrounds and ethnic origins that are similar to our own. “People are going home, and they’re going into environments that … look very much like them,” Greer says. “It can be difficult to bridge cultures.”

Diversity training brings this gap out into the open, in a way that for many people can be uncomfortable. “People just don’t want to be honest,” Greer says. They’re scared that expressing their feelings on a matter will ostracize them.

It’s a Catch-22. We have a platform to express opinions openly, but we’re scared that we’ll get in trouble for expressing those feelings openly.

So what can we do?

How to Start the Hard Conversations

Greer’s start in diversity training came from his colleague’s candor. So it’s not surprising that he endorses the same spirit at his trainings.

To get things rolling during a session, he begins with a series of questions that are designed to break the ice around diversity training.

First, he asks how many attendees have been to diversity training. Most hands will go up. Then he asks how many enjoyed the trainings they attended. Hands start to go down. Finally, he asks what they didn’t like about diversity training.

It’s an exercise that sets an expectation for frankness. “It’s just a matter of creating an environment where we can share,” Greer says.

Of course, that doesn’t mean things will go smoothly. But Greer emphasizes that that’s part of the process. “It’s OK to to get angry with each other — as long as we’re doing it constructively,” he says.

Remember How Far We’ve Come

For all the talk about how much we need to do in regard to diversity and inclusion, Greer says the U.S. has come an incredibly long way. He knows this better than anyone — all because of a powerful moment in his life.

In 1991 Greer was 17. His family moved to Dubuque, Iowa, as part of a program to attract minority families to the city. The plan was not as universally well-received as one would hope. “People didn’t like it,” Greer says. “The Klan organized a rally against our family. They burned crosses.”

Greer says that when he tells the story to his children, they can’t even imagine something like that happening. “That in itself is progress,” he says.

Ultimately, Greer says he hopes the conversation regarding diversity and inclusion one day becomes something in the past — because we’ve made even more progress. But in order to get there we can’t just commit to training sessions. We have to commit to the bumps in the road, and dedicate ourselves to smoothing them over. That means being aware of what Greer calls the “internal story of what’s playing in our brain when we encounter other people.”

“When you learn to master that story, you will find that you will actually be more open to other people,” he says. “But at first it starts with you.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

#WorkTrends: Diversity in Practice

The evidence continues to pile up: Diversity pays.

Whether you’re in the heart of Silicon Valley or elsewhere, diversity at work provides a greater breadth of thought, experiences and approaches, and it’s becoming more important than ever in business.

But it can be difficult to move beyond the buzzwords and generate real, long-lasting change. On this week’s episode of #WorkTrends we talk with Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, a diversity champion and chief human resources officer at Symantec, to help understand the path to success.

She offers the kind of open, honest conversation we need. “I’ve never had to rationalize or make a business case about why four white guys are better than a diverse set of employees,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. “So why should I have to make a case for why diversity is a good decision?”

We also speak with Rania Anderson, diversity expert and author of “WE: Men, Women, and the Decisive Formula for Winning at Work” about her framework to help men and women be more inclusive, support diversity and work better together.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Defining Diversity at Work

“Diversity is really about inclusion,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. “While numbers are important, and they are really the outcome you are driving toward, it’s about the right kind of environment that you create.”

Cappellanti-Wolf says your goal should be to have a place where people want to come to work, feel like they contribute, are able to learn and stick around. “Create that kind of landscape so that it happens naturally,” she says.

Part of her work at Symantec includes an overhaul of diversity strategy and creating that inclusive environment. This involves hiring and promotion but also how the company approaches building its business units.

For example, Cappellanti-Wolf says the company looked at data showing how women are very strong at “solution selling” — the long game that focuses on a portfolio instead of trying to get an immediate sale. Because solution selling is central to the company’s growth, Symantec is creating an initiative to bring more women into its sales organization.

“Not only is it the right thing, but they help propel the business,” she says.

Stumbling Is Normal

If you’re struggling with your diversity program, you’re not alone. Cappellanti-Wolf says it’s universal, even though industries like tech make the news more than others.

“We’re all struggling with the same challenges in terms of representation mix and if we have the right capabilities to go after the right talent,” she says. “For us it’s really about how do we think about the addressable market that we have, and how do we start to cultivate and build those relationships.”

The best way to start creating relationships and avoid cultural mistakes is to get leadership on board. Bring leadership in from the beginning so there’s always buy-in for diversity efforts, she says. Symantec is “building inclusive leadership muscles at the top because if you don’t have leadership support, these things fail,” she says.

Putting Hiring First

“It starts at the hiring process,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. “That’s where it really starts to show that you’re serious about this.”

A major goal for hiring practices is to root out bias. She says managers will need training on how to think holistically about candidates. No one is a perfect fit, so the emphasis is on identifying where manager training and employee mentoring can make up the difference. Many people will need to learn how to open up the pipeline to more perspectives and experiences.

“We’re going to mandate that before a requisition can be closed, you have to have shown that you had a diverse slate,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. “You have to open up the candidacy for people to be considered for the role.”

Succession planning also generates problems because many people are inclined to hire someone that they think is like them. “You don’t want to hire in your own image, because if you have homogenous thinking on a team you’re not going to get your best results,” she says.

Advice for Your Office

Cappellanti-Wolf says companies should strive to build a culture of servant-leadership to make their diversity efforts a success and to attract or maintain valuable team members.

“You’ve got to lead that way because there are too many competing jobs out there,” she says. “If you don’t create a place where people want to come because they know you’re going to be there for them, then game over.”

To achieve that result, she recommends a two-pronged approach:

  1. Do your math. Know your current population and what the market near you looks like. Look for new opportunities and talent pools. Then set goals that are achievable based on your hiring.
  2. Hold your leadership accountable. “This is not an HR initiative; it’s a business initiative,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. Leadership is what drives employee retention, so they’ve got to be on board and trained to help your company succeed.

And that’s only the beginning. Cappellanti-Wolf provided even more thoughts on the tactics and data she used to measure these outcomes, and how to create that foundation. Be sure to stick around for when she pulls out the crystal ball to give us predictions for diversity in the next decade.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

Be Inclusive, Not Just Tolerant

When I think about the words “inclusion” and “tolerance,” I see a large chasm. In regards to the modern-day workforce, diversity and inclusion mean accepting and welcoming people from different walks of life. Tolerance, on the other hand, does not denote acceptance, but rather an attitude of being faced with something you must go along with but in your heart don’t accept.

This isn’t just an esoteric difference, because diversity and inclusion have real business benefits, and even subtle forms of bias have increasingly negative effects in terms of brand reputation and in competing for talent.

How do you address this issue? A first step is to ponder whether you or your company has an issue with accepting people who are different from you.

Looking Inward at Prejudice

Studies show people are programmed to compartmentalize and categorize other people. It’s easy to put people into a bucket than to discover their real characteristics. Feelings of low self-esteem often fuel this thinking and allow it to continue in the normal course of living. But like many things in life, taking the lazy approach produces inferior results personally and professionally, and when adding prejudice to the mix it becomes a morally reprehensible viewpoint.

Denying the humanity of those different from ourselves is a form of prejudice. Unfortunately, this is a common phenomenon in society and without doubt, an all-too-common workplace occurrence that can lead to outright discrimination. When prejudice and bias (another baseless reaction and belief) exist in the workplace, imaginary walls are put up, with certain segments of the population placed inside. These walls block access to the employer’s mainstream activities and benefits,, leaving some people excluded with with limited ability to advance fairly. In essence, they are isolated or at best tolerated.

It Starts at the Top

When business leadership does not openly and actively support a diverse workforce, employees take it as a cue on the company culture. Often a reluctance about inclusion is subtle, but when you look around at your co-workers and see only those similar to yourself, it’s an indication that management is not actively promoting — and perhaps not that interested in — diversity and inclusion.

Also, look at the leadership in your organization. Do you see only the same gender and race in those positions? Organizations that place people in positions of power under the guise of “This is a male-dominated industry” are perpetuating prejudice and ignoring the possibilities of learning from others’ experiences.

Subtle Signs

One of the most common ways that organizations stay homogenous is by hiring only those who fit the image of what is “just like us.” Hiring practices such as using focused venues to advertise job openings to avoid attracting “unwanted” segments of the population is most certainly a sign of conscious bias. Any action, though subtle, to avoid particular people within the population will not serve the organization well in the long run.

In addition, questionable raises and promotions are another subtle sign that not all employees are treated fairly and without bias. Although some employees may have champions fighting for them, there is cause to believe some segments of employee populations are not getting their fair share.

How can these overlooked people prove they were intentionally left out of the conversation? Often they can’t. This situation runs counter to the very ideals of equality that America was built on. It’s something we should never lose sight of, as so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence, “… all [men] are created equal…”

Generational Views

Younger workers’ ideas about diversity and inclusion extend beyond the common observations of age, gender, ethnicity, etc., to also encompass an ideal: that everyone, regardless of their differences, will be treated fairly and equally. For Millennials this means they want to be heard, supported and engaged by leadership, regardless of the traditional management of employees.

Older generations may still default to the anecdotal observations, but as they retire and as Millennials and Generation Z take over, it’s expected that diversity and inclusion will go beyond the legal definition and encompass a greater meaning with deeper engagement.

Inclusion Is Good for Your Bottom Line

Still not convinced that diversity is a fight worth fighting? It turns out, prejudice is bad for business.

A McKinsey study indicates that brands in the top rankings for racial and ethnic diversity are about 35 percent more likely to produce an ROI above other brands within their industry. Additionally, corroborating research indicates that diverse companies have 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee compared with non-diverse companies.

When companies become more global, they access more segments of the population, allowing them to expand their clientele. Interacting with new people means reaching a new customer base, with the potential to increase sales.

Research has shown that one of the best ways to gain employees is to first have them as customers. In fact, one of my partners was a former client, so I can attest to the value of good customer interactions. When people like a product and the company that produces it, they’re more likely to be an engaged and satisfied customer — and happy customers are very good for your bottom line for many reasons, such as becoming brand ambassadors for your organization and secondly, they can develop an interest in being an employee. If your business plans include expanding into new markets, having employees who are representative of them is a great idea. They can help bridge gaps in customer relations and keep potential customers engaged. As people go, shared narratives are impactful.

There are myriad reasons why inclusion will always win out in society, life and in the workplace. It’s up to brands to take an honest look at their employee population with a discerning eye and ask “Who’s missing?” Think about your business to date and what your future plans are for expansion. You may find opportunities you couldn’t imagine before, and in doing so elevate your product and employer reputation.

This post is sponsored by SmartSearch.

#WorkTrends: How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality

New research shows that diversity and inclusion are a top priority for leaders. So why does the needle seem to be moving backward when it comes to gender equality at work?

On this week’s episode of the #WorkTrends podcast we dive into some of the answers with Dorothy Dalton, who is working to shift the conversation about men, women, work and bias.

Based in Belgium, Dalton has been working in talent management and recruitment for many years. She runs her own executive search firm and has founded an organization to help professional women reach their potential. In our conversation she offered important insights into how we can start to transform the modern workplace to make it more equal and inclusive for everyone.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Make It More Than an HR Issue

Dalton, an expert on gender-neutral and bias-conscious recruitment, says one of the challenges when it comes to diversity in the workplace is that people see it as an HR issue rather than an overall business issue.

“What we need for any cultural transformation to be effective are the three pillars: leadership commitment, systemic change and behavioral change,” she says. “What we’re doing is we’re cherry-picking a bit because no one really likes to change. All of us are quite locked into our old ways of doing things, so it really is part of an overall business transformation, not an HR problem to be solved with a few little training sessions — which is, quite honestly, the way people tend to go about it.”
Don’t Expect Progress to Just Happen
Dalton says that while every generation tends to think they are more understanding than the previous one when it comes to workplace diversity issues, the progress isn’t always so linear.

She says that when her own daughter, an older millennial, entered the workplace, she was horrified to discover that gender and diversity issues hadn’t progressed much. Dalton says we all have certain biases, and those shouldn’t be demonized, but they can’t be ignored either if we want to truly create more equitable workplaces.

“It’s really normal to have opinions and biases, but we have to set up procedures and processes, checks and balances, to make sure that we’re on track to make better business decisions,” she says.

She says research shows that most of us think we don’t have biases and that we behave correctly, but digging deeper reveals we have plenty of biases. “We’re still at a very primal level,” she says.

Take Steps for Change

Dalton offers a number of ways organizations can make an impact right now in their own companies, starting with how they recruit. “Women tend to look for promotional opportunities within their own organizations,” she says. “If they look outside then it tends to be in response to usually external circumstances — either a change in their personal lives or a takeover, a merger, or something’s not working.

“Organizations may have to have gender-neutral adverts. They have to have put the flex opportunities [and] remote working upfront because women are afraid to ask because they feel they’re discriminated because of it — and they are.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more. On this week’s episode of #WorkTrends we talk to Dorothy Dalton about the work she’s doing to shift the conversation about men, women, work and bias.

#WorkTrends: Building a More Inclusive Workplace with SurveyMonkey

While inclusion is the new buzzword, do companies really know what it means? How many companies are truly creating an inclusive work culture? How many even know how to?

This week on WorkTrends, we’re talking to Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at SurveyMonkey. She has impressive chops in the world of HR tech and can share advice that any leader can use to build a more inclusive workplace.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

 

Inclusion Doesn’t Happen By Chance

SurveyMonkey takes a variety of approaches to create an inclusive work environment. “We have four employee resource groups (ERGs), which are designed to provide support and inspiration to different populations within SurveyMonkey who are underrepresented minorities,” Srinivasan says. There is a Latinos group, which was founded to support black and Latin employees, an LGBTQ plus group, a women-in-the-workplace group and a separate group for “women who tech,” designed to further the careers of self-identified female engineers.

But even with those four ERGs, the company believes it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that SurveyMonkey is a diverse and inclusive workforce. It’s not just an HR program — the company engages the entire organization. In addition to the ERGs, there are four office committees — at the headquarters at San Mateo, California; in Portland, Oregon; in Ottawa, Ontario; and in Dublin. “The idea is to make sure that we, on a local level, celebrate important and culturally significant events.”

For instance, Pride Month is celebrated across all four offices. Also, the Goldie Speaker Series — named for Dave Goldberg, the company’s late CEO — provides an opportunity to discuss diversity and inclusion issues as a team, and hear from inspiring trailblazers.

Companies often struggle to measure their inclusion efforts, SurveyMonkey worked with Paradigm and Stanford University to develop a template of three drivers that are fundamental to building an inclusive workforce.

Inclusion Driver 1: Growth Mindset

Organizations that have a growth mindset believe that talent isn’t necessarily fixed and that people, whoever they are, can evolve and learn. “The converse of that growth mindset is a fixed mindset, which means you think people are either talented or they’re not, and it creates what we would call a culture of genius.” A culture of genius hinders true inclusion, because not everyone will feel that they can learn, grow and have the best opportunities at the company.

Inclusion Driver 2: A Culture of Belonging

When SurveyMonkey was in the process of building the template, it surveyed about 10,000 people to ensure the methodology was sound. “When we ran this survey, 25 percent of workers told us that they feel like they don’t belong at their organization. That jumps to nearly a third for black workers,” Srinivasan says. If you haven’t created a culture where everyone truly belongs, Srinivasan says this is going to run counter to your efforts to build an inclusive culture.

Inclusion Driver 3: Objectivity

The third driver, objectivity, is the perception that people can advance based on fair and transparent criteria. Take compensation, for example. In the survey, 60 percent of employees thought their compensation was fair. “However, when we looked at the data and sliced it by ethnicity, we found that less than half of black employees agreed that compensation was fair,” Srinivasan says.

“Those were the three drivers, and it’s very clear from the stats, the survey, and what we know to be true that we really do have our work cut out in building truly inclusive cultures.”

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

How Employee Advocacy Drives Recruitment Diversity

Organizations that take the opportunity to be more inclusive are winning. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive team are 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic/cultural diversity, this likelihood of outperformance rises to 33%.

Diversity in the workplace can increasingly be powered from within by an organization’s most valuable attribute, its own people. Here are five crucial factors employers should consider when looking at how employee advocacy helps drive recruitment diversity.

Increase Your Reach

HR directors have an opportunity to develop a talent acquisition strategy with a significantly increased reach by working with employee brand advocates. Employees have on average 10 times more connections than brand channels, and brand messages are shared 24 times more when distributed by employees, versus the same messages shared via official brand social channels.

Sky’s #LifeatSky employee advocacy programme has united colleagues from across the company in celebrating its culture, experiences and activities. It has resulted in an improved recruitment process, driving 100 hires and 10,000 applications through harnessing its people on social media. Meanwhile, Unilever’s employee advocacy programme means colleagues are sharing 14x more frequently, there are 5x more job views and 4x more engagement with content.

Whether it is attracting more women to senior positions, building better employer branding awareness for millennial candidates, developing a culture more welcoming or more inclusive, employees can reach more people. Adopting a tech-enabled employee advocacy program allows colleagues across the business to engage with the vision, values and purpose of the brand.

Scale Up Quickly

Advances in HR tech means brands are able to manage employee advocacy programs easily, scale the number of employees involved rapidly and measure the results accurately. That means creative content marketing can be put into the hands of staff, tracked in real-time and recruitment success reported to senior leadership.

Scaling up like this means a diversity of individual voices from across the organization can be celebrated and heard, opening up new recruitment streams across a multitude of demographics for sustainable results. Plus, when employees share content they achieve a click-through rate twice that seen by their company.

Build Trust

Candidates are 40 percent more likely to apply for a job at a company when they recognize the brand. Employees are significantly more trusted than CEOs, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, and employees are able to reach the wider candidate base needed to build familiarity.

Potential candidates will now expect to see recommendations and reviews from their personal network of friends, family and peers to help them make informed decisions on new roles. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of advertising — 84 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family.

Employee advocacy programs allow colleagues to share local and relevant content to their personal networks to maximize the variety of candidates and reach a huge passive candidate pool. When Iceland Foods launched its Qubist employee advocacy app, Iceland Insiders, it generated more than 37 million impressions in the first three months alone, through employees’ own social channels, raising brand awareness and supporting the company’s marketing initiatives. Through the app, Iceland staff can share brand content to their own personal social media channels. The goal was to raise brand awareness of Iceland Foods and support talent acquisition.

Access New Talent Pools

To reach new talent pools and recruit different types of talent, employee brand advocates can help amplify existing employee networks. Sky, which has gained recognition as an inclusive employer, has an employee network that includes groups like Parents, LGBT and Women. Employees company-wide share content from the network on their own personal social channels. It also amplifies events such as International Women’s Day or Pride through its employee advocates.

To recruit hard-to-reach demographics, developing an inclusive culture and celebrating diversity internally is increasingly a workplace trend. 78 percent of employers surveyed for LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2018 said improving diversity “to improve company culture was a focus.

Go Social

When 79 percent of candidates use social media in their job search, it’s important to make it easy for them to engage with you via employee advocates. This is especially important at a time when traditional recruitment techniques are ineffective as people turn on ad blockers, and social channels such as Facebook prioritize friends and family over brand content. In an era of transparency and “fake news,” employees are seen as authentic and have real influence — the ability to cause effect or change behaviour — compared to brands.

With a mobile-first, multi-language employee advocacy app, large companies can bring together a disparate workforce to share relevant and personalised content on their own social channels. This kind of tech-enabled employee advocacy platform means colleagues feel empowered and passionate about their role in driving their company forward, while driving awareness of the Employer Brand Proposition (EVP) to a new and diverse audience.

How to Build an Inclusive Culture at Work

Raise your hand if “diversity” or “inclusion” are buzzwords at your organization.

Almost every HR and business leader we talk to is focused on D&I. But “diversity” (regardless of whether you’re talking about a workforce that’s more diverse in terms of race, gender, age or background) isn’t just a box to be checked. Building a more diverse workforce, retaining all different kinds of employees and integrating those diverse perspectives into the work is a complicated undertaking. And an important one.

There’s a lot at stake. A recent McKinsey report found that companies whose executive teams were in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile.

“Boards and investors are driving this push for diversity,” says Stephen Tavares, a partner at the consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles. “If you look at the annual reports and investor calls, you see a move away from things like productivity. Investors more interested in the talent in the organization.”

He says that focus on diverse talent is leading company leaders to ask questions like:

  • How do we bring in different perspectives?
  • How do we get the business benefit from having all those diverse perspectives?
  • How do we get the most out of our talent?

Heidrick & Struggles tested a measurement app called SYNAPP. The firm’s goal was to collapse all the innovation and insights they learn from clients and turn them into user-friendly takeaways. As they gathered data, they saw trends in how different genders work (or don’t work) together and the impact on the business.

The Problem

At many organizations there’s a push to hire more diverse candidates. The sticking point comes after employees start work. When men and women don’t interact, work together or trust each other, the expanding diversity of the organization doesn’t actually lead to business results.

According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, analysis of how men and women interact in the workplace found that even though they communicated with senior leaders the same amount, men advanced more than women. After digging into the data, the researchers found suggestions that gender inequality in leadership was due to bias, not differences in how men and women communicate and work.

“We knew more organizations were looking at how to get more diverse people into the organization. But once they’re in, how do you make sure you’re building an inclusive culture? And how do you measure it?” Tavares says.

If you’re trying to build a more gender-inclusive culture, the answer isn’t just “hire more women,” he says. It’s about building inclusive teams and an inclusive culture.

“Those are two separate problems. Many focus on the first problem [hiring], since it’s easier to quantify. But it’s important to look at how people really interact with each other.”

Tavares’ firm uses SYNAPP to measure and understand connections between people. They ask employees questions like:

  • Who do you go to for decisions?
  • Who do you go to for new ideas?
  • Who do you trust?
  • Who do you look to for support?
  • Who gives you energy?

By analyzing the answers, SYNAPP identifies the teams that are really living an inclusive culture, and the teams that aren’t.

For example, the firm worked with an organization with an R&D team that had an equal male-female ratio. That checked the gender-diversity box, but the team wasn’t inclusive. Team members didn’t look to the opposite gender for decisions, ideas or support.

What Is an Inclusive Culture?

So how can organizations become not just more diverse but more inclusive?

Tavares looks at three levels of building an inclusive culture:

  • A diverse organization: The overall talent pool has the appropriate representation of different kinds of talent.
  • Workplace inclusion: Once you have the right representation, it’s time to look at workplace processes and structures. Make sure employees go to a diverse pool of people for ideas and decisions. “This is where we see a lot of organizations start,” he says.
  • Emotional inclusion: This is about building trusting relationships across different employee groups, making sure people get energy from a diverse span of co-workers and creating a diverse network of informal influence and empathy.

Tavares’ firm coaches teams to “bridge the gap between what management can do from a process side to what people can do from a behavior side,” he says.

“This is a vitally important topic,” he says. “At the fundamental level this is about a mindset shift. It’s not just about gender or ethnicity, but about different ways of thinking. When you can bring in more diverse perspectives you drive better results.”

We CAN Talk About Race, Religion, and Other Polarizing Topics: A Leader’s Guide to Bold Inclusive Conversations

Don’t talk about politics or religion at work! This old adage is one that we have mostly adhered to for centuries. I would also add race, sexual orientation, harassment, and disabilities to the list of topics that we don’t easily talk about. We’ve been socialized to believe that it is best not to talk about topics for which we know there are vastly different world views.

I would contend that our current sociopolitical climate, coupled with our immediate access and consumption of news via social media, has made this widely held tenet null and void. The polarization is so deep that it is almost impossible not to talk about politics which also means we are talking about race, ethnicity, religion, class and gender because they are all so intertwined.

The growing body of research around psychological safety, engagement, and inclusion has shifted the dialogue from whether we should be having these conversations at work to how can we begin to arm ourselves with the competencies to have these conversations at work. 

I was conducting a “healing” session for a client just after the election with employees of color who represented various employee identity groups (e.g. Black, Asian, Latino).  One of the participants said that as a gay Muslim man he would not stand close to the edge of the subway waiting area any more for fear of being pushed in. A white male leader in attendance as an inclusion advocate was shocked to hear that anyone would have to have such a fear. Another one of our clients, a major public-school district, is dealing with children coming to school afraid that their parents will be deported, leaving them here in the US as orphans.

Employees are bringing such fears to work. Children are bringing these fears to school. As leaders, we need to not only talk about these issues, but we also need the requisite skills to do so effectively.  We need to recognize that there are a different set of skills needed to have Bold, Inclusive Conversations across difference.

The Model for Bold, Inclusive Conversations supports leaders in fostering those skills and meeting people where they are when engaging in dialogue:

Foster Self- and Other Understanding

Investing time to understand oneself and the perspectives of one’s cultural ‘others,’ is requisite to engaging in these, often time difficult, conversations. As a matter of fact, this phase of self and other understanding can be difficult, in and of itself. Our identity is core to who we are. Whether it is our race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, or even roles as parents, these aspects of our identity shape our worldview. They influence how we view and respond to current events, what we interpret as right or wrong, and what we stand for or against. It is important for us to understand why we believe what we believe, and why we disagree with those things we disagree with if we are to be effective in having bold, inclusive conversations.

Assessing Readiness

Sometimes our teams and organizations just aren’t ready to have these conversations. Sometimes we aren’t either. Perhaps it is because we do not know enough about the topic, or have not had exposure to people from a specific identity group. Assessing individual and team readiness is key to engaging in these conversations. What might one consider when assessing their individual readiness?

  • Exposure: Ask yourself: Who is in my world? The less exposure you have with people who are different than you, the less likely you will be ready to engage in bold, inclusive conversations.
  • Experience: This takes ‘exposure’ a step further. Experience is about engaging with those who are different from you in ways that are cross-culturally enriching.
  • Education: Experience and exposure should be complemented with formal education. This may include workplace trainings, continuing education, research, visiting museums, reading books, etc.
  • Empathy: Having the capacity to understand the perspective of one’s ‘other,’ is also necessary to be effective in engaging in bold, inclusive conversations.

Preparing for the Conversation

It is important to differentiate preparation and readiness. Readiness refers to the ongoing learning involved in fostering self- and other-understanding. Preparation involves the tactical elements required to plan the conversation. Given the sensitive nature of bold, inclusive conversation, planning is critical. That said, spontaneous meetings to engage in these conversations should be avoided. When planning to engage in a bold, inclusive conversation, consider the following series of questions:

  • Why are we having the conversation?
  • Who should be part of the dialogue, and why?
  • What is the desired outcome?
  • How should the conversation be conducted?
  • Where should the conversation be held?
  • When will the conversation take place?

Creating Shared Meaning and Finding Common Ground

When it comes to issues tied to our identity, we are more likely to be passionate, and unmoving in our beliefs. Social psychologists have suggested that we retreat to separatist thinking when our core belief systems are threatened. Reasoning and evidence simply do not matter.

That’s why convincing someone to “change what they believe” is difficult, and shouldn’t be the goal of engaging in these conversations; however, reaching a point of mutual understanding should. Creating shared meaning is a stepping stone to getting there. Ask yourself and each other, what can we agree on? Creating shared meaning and finding common ground includes statements like:

  • “These types of stresses can impact engagement and productivity.”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know, and we all have a lot to learn about each other to have effective dialogue.”
  • “We all want to be safe.”

Delving into Differences

While understanding similarities is certainly a critical middle ground for bold conversations, understanding differences that make a difference is critical to getting to a place of reciprocal understanding. Consider the following when moving into dialogue around differences:

  • Acknowledge the ‘elephant’ in the room. Polarization exists and acknowledging that is part of the dialogue.
  • Distinguish interpretations and clarify definitions. Even “universal” terms and values can be interpreted differently across cultures. What do terms like fairness, safety, and trust mean to those involved in the dialogue? Discuss those differences. Write them down.
  • Uncover your different perspectives and listen with an open mind. Tell your story.
  • Know when to ‘press pause.’ Set aside time to reflect. Be okay with non-closure.
  • Strive for reciprocal empathy. There is no official ‘end game’ in engaging in these conversations. But …

If we can get to the point of reciprocal empathy (i.e., the ability to know what it is like to be the “other”), we increase the likelihood of generating new ways to engage with each other.

Photo Credit: Pelangi Keluarga Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Recap: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

Going to work these days can feel like a minefield. It seems that most people have an opinion about topics that create intense emotions, and people’s differences lead to polarization rather than unity.

Thank you to Patrick Antrim, former New York Yankee baseball player and author of 7 Talent Strategies for High Performing Teams, for being the guest host of this #WorkTrends chat. Patrick welcomed diversity and inclusion strategist Mary-Frances Winters, Founder and President of The Winters Group, Inc., and author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, who shared expertise based on her 30+ years of insight and experience on how organizations create environments where people can find common ground.

We discussed how to build a framework for creating inclusive environments that lead to more productive teams and respectful workplaces. It’s important to remember that creating inclusion isn’t a “one and done” type of phenomenon–it’s a journey. It is also important to build in the time and discipline to reflect and apply what we learn from our experiences.

In closing, Mary-Frances reminded us that part of this journey is “recognizing that we don’t know what we don’t know,” being curious and having an openness to learning.

Thanks, Mary-Frances, for inspiring us to keep pursuing the journey.

Here are a few key points Mary-Frances shared:

  • People who feel respected want to come to work
  • The work of diversity and inclusion is never done; it is always a journey
  • Preparation is important prior to a conversation about differences
  • There is a significant difference between “equality” and “equity”
  • The organizational culture should go beyond creating a “safe space” and create a “brave place”

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here: http://bit.ly/2AfZ45L

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT).

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo by Ocean Biggshott on Unsplash

#WorkTrends Preview: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

Today’s headlines are brimming with emotionally-charged topics including racial injustice, protests, sexual harassment and more, making it unrealistic for employers to expect their employees to leave their opinions at the door.

Organizations must take advantage of this emotionally fraught time to help employees find common ground. Doing so will improve engagement, company chemistry, productivity and retention. Teams will become more cohesive and employees’ sense of safety will improve.

Guest host Patrick Antrim, former New York Yankee baseball player and author of 7 Talent Strategies for High Performing Teams, will welcome diversity and inclusion strategist Mary-Frances Winters, Founder and President of The Winters Group, Inc., and author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics to share her 30+ years of insight and experience on how organizations create environments where people can find that common ground and remain respectful and productive. She and her firm are committed to helping people feel comfortable and empowered bringing their whole selves to work.

This #WorkTrends chat will address how to create inclusive environments and provide a model for difficult conversations, providing building blocks of competence and preparation.

Join #WorkTrends guest host Patrick Antrim and his guest Mary-Frances Winters, author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 1 pm ET as they discuss the framework for creating inclusive environments that lead to more productive teams and respectful workplaces.

We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

#WorkTrends Preview: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!Join Patrick and Mary-Frances on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 1 pm ET | 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

 

Q1: What topics have been historically considered taboo in the workplace and why so? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can employees effectively address sensitive topics in the workplace? #WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Q3: How can leadership affect change to open the lines of communication? #WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed and our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community.

Photo Credit: Jiuck Flickr via Compfight cc