6 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
By now, anyone who cares about diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace knows that gender and racial representation are critical to organizational growth. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies with different management teams are more profitable and innovative. Employees are also more engaged and customer loyalty is higher.
Based on a study by the legendary management consultancy McKinsey & Company, the likelihood of financial outperformance in the market is on average 35 percent higher if an organization has more gender and ethnicity.
Related: 7 Ways to Check Your Bias in Scoring Your Team
Achieving parity is a process
Diversity has proven that it increases the bottom line. In 2017, S&P 500 companies closed the year with an increase of 19.45 percent. At this point in time, 16 companies did not have a single woman on the board or in the C-suite. By the end of 2019, every company had at least one woman on the board – and ended the year with an increase of almost 30 percent. Plain and simple, diversity at the top is good for business.
If the data is so crystal clear, why are women and people of color still so underrepresented on management? Recently, Mogul, the global diversity recruiter of which I am CEO, hosted a Diversity in Executive Search webinar on the topic. Cathrin Stickney, the founder and CEO of Parity.org, a non-profit organization that advocates the representation of women and people of color at the highest level of business, gave insights into the Mughal members.
She explained that achieving parity in governance is a complex process, and specifically emphasized the importance of making progress across representation. Recruiting is a fundamental step in increasing representation. If you're in a leadership position and want to – and you should – create more diversity in your workforce, there are five easy-to-use leadership recruitment strategies that you can use to help you get the best chance of hiring the best talent. I've come across a lot of them in my personal recruitment agency, and the way we hire at Mogul has changed.
1. Eliminate unconscious biases at every opportunity. Unconscious prejudices are everywhere and affect everything from hiring to remuneration, mentoring and promotion. Bias can lead to inadvertent setbacks in creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.
2. Be aware of your recruiting process. During their session, Stickney noted that there are no two ways around this. If you want to put together the best team, you need to be aware. This means creating gender and ethnically neutral job descriptions, removing overly casual or "bro" language, and removing age and other identifiers in your applications. Effective neutral job descriptions attract top talent, and removing identifiers allows you to look at their qualifications as objectively as possible.
Related: We're looking at the wrong numbers on job diversity
3. Put together a varied interview panel. Including minorities in your interview process shows your candidate that you understand the importance of different perspectives. Since 2014, Intel has required that the interview panels for all new hires include at least two members of underrepresented communities. Since then, Intel's diversity numbers have skyrocketed. Before the new requirement, 31 percent of new hires were either women or black people. two years later it was 45 percent.
4. Hold your search company or recruiter accountable. We hear a lot about different slates. But, as Stickney noted, you can have a seemingly diverse list and still never hire a woman. You could also have 50:50 gender parity in your plan, but if everyone is from the same ethnic or cultural background, that's not true diversity. Stickney defines true diversity as representative slate. When working with a recruiter, solicit candidates who represent the gender and racial structure of your country or region and require the search company you hire to bring a representative list of qualified candidates and hold them accountable for doing so deliver what you want. Top recruiters have an expanded network of diverse people. A good rule of thumb for an effective representative list should therefore be 50 percent women and 40 percent colored. Don't settle for the time and push back when you don't get what you asked for.
5. Be aware of common myths and look through them. Stickney pointed out three common myths within hiring practices that need to be addressed. The first is that top talent only went to top schools. I say this as a graduate of Harvard Business and Yale, but there are many incredible people who have rose through the ranks by their own strength and tenacity and have never graduated. I certainly have my own bias when a colleague from Yalie's application hits my desk, but anyone who hires enough people will agree that top schools are less important than the person's passion for their work.
Second, Stickney points out that "Culture Fit" is a lively phrase that needs to be redefined. The mindset for a culture that fits by personality just asks things like: Are you like me? Can i get along with you Can we socialize together? Do i understand you do you understand me While knowing if you are able to work with someone on a daily basis is important, those criteria should only weigh so much. During the hiring process, you should define your culture based on company values and find the candidates who share those values.
The third myth is the notion that there aren't enough women and people of color to qualify for the open executive and board seats. As Stickney pointed out, this is a networking problem. We all need to keep diversifying our networks if we are to find better candidates. There are many skilled women who are able to climb the ladder. It's about being active on professional platforms like Mogul and LinkedIn and diversifying your network to find them.
Related: Be intentional about diversity
Progress has been made, but slowly
One last word on the progress we are all making together. As noted in the 2019 Spencer Stuart Board Index, 59 percent of new directors are record breaking, and 46 percent of new directors are women. Women and minorities now together make up 39 percent of all S&P 500 directors. Yes, it's a new milestone, but it's still far from 50 percent.
Creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce is a top-down effort, and I believe organizations need to be publicly committed to it. With a commitment to diversity and inclusion, top talent will know where you stand and your current employees, suppliers, and customers will know you are a company doing the right thing. When you share your successes on your public channels, you underline that you are an advocate of diversity and attract the best and brightest to your company.