Many people think of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as one concept, but in fact, these are two related concepts with separate meanings. Diversity happens through recruiting a wide array of talent to the company, or promoting varied individuals into a leadership team. Diversity can mean gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and much more. Inclusion is something that happens after the diverse talent gets “a seat at the table.” Does their opinion get the same weight as more traditional talent? Or do different ideas get squashed? Diversity and Inclusion are separate but equal parts to creating an environment that fosters innovation and growth and where every employee can bring unique value to the team.
Why does D&I matter?
Some might wonder why diversity and inclusion even matters. These people may fall in the “traditional profile” category and aren’t personally affected by organizations that may or may not be embracing diversity and inclusion. Here are some reasons why D&I is a good thing for everyone—from the newest entry level employee to the CEO:
- Forbes study has identified workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth.
- According to McKinsey, companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.
- Lu Hong and Scott Page showed that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
These are business outcomes that any employee would be excited about. Why, then, has every company not hopped on the train toward internal innovation and business growth?
Unconscious Bias Can Be A Hidden Obstacle
Diversity and Inclusion is not something that happens overnight. It takes a concerted, consistent effort from the top to the bottom to be effective. One hurdle to overcome is unconscious bias.
Although the word “bias” has a negative connotation, unconscious bias is neither inherently good nor bad. Unconscious biases are the filters through which we see the world to more effectively make sense of it. It’s essentially a cognitive shortcut. In many instances unconscious bias can be a good thing; however, unexamined and unmitigated unconscious bias in the workplace can have detrimental effects in creating a diverse and inclusive environment.
One of the best ways to help mitigate against bias that can have a negative impact is through the creation of processes that can help block bias at the decision-maker’s table. A Diversity and Inclusion committee can help construct processes for hiring, promotions, and employee development that can help eliminate negative bias.
Why Should Every Company Have a Diversity and Inclusion Committee?
Too often, we run so fast that we forget to do the things that make us faster in the long haul, like stopping to stretch our muscles or refuel on nutrients. This is often the case with diversity and inclusion. It seems like a “nice to have” instead of a “have to have.” A company’s D&I initiative can start with the best of intentions and then trail off as people get busy with their “real jobs.”
Diversity and Inclusion Committees that are empowered with real support and goals from the C-Suite, budget, and power to implement initiatives can be a lasting transformative power in any organization. These committees should be comprised of a diverse population – representing as many demographics in the company as possible, including non-minorities.
To truly understand the organization and the hurdles each group faces, it is important to hear from minorities and non-minorities. Diversity and Inclusion must be a company-wide initiative, not (as it so often is) a group of minorities that check the D&I box and gives the individuals an outlet to voice their opinions.
Here’s a Roadmap for Starting Your D&I Committee
1. Get a C-Suite sponsor, without support from the top down your project is destined to come up short.
2. Create metrics baselines and goals, this might include # offers extended to diversity hires, % of multilingual workforce or measure of your employee opinion on company culture.
3. Build your committee by inviting people in the company that represent different departments and demographics. It’s easier to spot bias with a diverse set of viewpoints.
4. Determine budget to put towards events, training, and specialized recruiting. Even if you are only planning on investing employees time, that will ultimately cost your company money through lost production.
5. Review internal processes looking for opportunities to remove bias and increase inclusion. Popular areas include candidates screened, offers extended, office perks, and promotions.
6. Implement process changes by setting requirements for diversity of candidates, applying blind recruitment practices.
7. Monitor both the compliance of the process and the pulse for your staff through surveys.
8. Watch your company transform as employee engagement, innovation, and bottom line increase.
Megan Tidwell leads the US Sales Recruiting team and is apart of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Qualtrics, a Forbes Cloud 100 technology company that provides Experience Management software. She has a degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University where she competed in gymnastics.