Two years ago, I wrote a blog post titled Making Big Investments in Diversity at a Small Company. The goal was to help inspire action around diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts at companies both large and small. We're well into 2019 and the conversation around diversity and inclusion continues to be at the forefront of community discussions, company goals, conferences, panels, and research.
The annual McKinsey study on Why Diversity Matters recently updated their report to show, "companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians." Diversity is more critical than ever to building and scaling successful businesses, yet as founders, managers, and teammates, we struggle to achieve the diversity we want.
Here are 5 actionable steps to help your company and teams build, scale, and retain a diverse and inclusive team.
As investors, executives, managers, and individual contributors we must collectively foster an environment that builds and encourages awareness around D&I. The first step to diverse and inclusive company growth is helping people understand the profound impact it has on company success.
As professionals, we tend to hire within or on the periphery of our networks. If you have a predominantly white, male team, there is a higher chance that your hires or referrals will be predominantly white men. Coach executives, hiring managers, and recruiters in the company to expand, engage, and build inroads into other networks and communities. The exercise below proves how important and challenging this can be:
Can't think of one woman or person of color? Time to start networking!
Focus your efforts on recruiting processes as it is typically the engine powering company growth. For example, Cisco was able to improve the likelihood of hiring African-American/Black candidates by as much as 70 percent and Hispanic/Latino and women candidates by 50 percent by enforcing diverse interview panels.
D&I efforts are often considered a People Operations or Human Resources responsibility when, in reality, it is a company-wide responsibility. Early on at Button, I intentionally stepped back and asked others to take the lead on our D&I efforts which included rotating who would lead the agenda, discussion, and action items at our bi-weekly D&I committee meeting. This seems small, and may be risky, but the reward is great. The collective action, leadership, and commitment across teams has been the biggest driver in achieving greater diversity at Button— including a 22-percent increase in gender diversity over the past two years.
Give teams and individuals the tools to build community, measure success, and grow professionally. Depending on the phase of your company, listen to what your team needs and execute accordingly.
The momentum around D&I is strong and ideas are aplenty. I continue to be impressed with the great strides industries and companies have made in an effort to create a more diverse and accepting world for future generations. Keep it up. Don't deprive your company, team, or individuals the opportunity to benefit and grow— keeping turning those ideas into action.
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