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Want to be an inclusive employer: stop confusing representation with power

Diversity and inclusiveness are essential components contributing to the success of any organization. Organizations are keen to put measures in place to ensure that diversity and inclusiveness are promoted, spanning all levels and teams. A McKinsey study that evaluated diversity levels at 366 public organizations found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to outperform their competitors in terms of profitability.  Some of the strategies that have been employed by many organizations include improving the hiring practices to ensure that diversity has been considered during the hiring process. However, diversity achieved through the hiring process does not always translate to an inclusive culture.

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusivity is being asked to dance” Verna Myers

Sensitizing Executives and Leaders

For organizations to be successful in ensuring diversity and inclusivity, encourage leaders to self-reflect and analyze unconscious biases.  These unintentional, implicit stereotypes are relatively inaccessible to conscious awareness and / or control. Harvard University offers a free assessment through Project Implicit. Promoting this resource to leadership is the first step in sensitizing leaders to a diverse and inclusive culture.

Creating Employee Resource Groups

Designing symbolic and physical spaces for different individuals will promote inclusivity. In such areas, employees can meet, share ideas, and discuss challenges they face while defining solutions. Formally, organizations can also mobilize focus group discussions or minority committees. These could be done physically or online, depending on varying dynamics and resources. Though the mechanism of Resource Groups, employees use their voice and have a platform to present recommendations. As a result, the organization inculcates a culture of inclusiveness.

Monitoring Progress

Traditional metrics rely on tallying the number of people within an organization who belong to each of several categories, spanning visible and physical minorities, gender orientation, age, religion, etc. An organization with a baseline that mirrors the real world (e.g., a ratio of men to women that’s close to 1:1) would be considered more diverse.  However, this is still insufficient data to measure a culture of inclusivity. Conventional quota systems aren’t necessarily a bad system, but they’re not a comprehensive one.

Alternative methods to measure progress needs to triangulate data, perceptions, and power. An example includes correlating minority groups with levels, titles, and positions of power within an organization. While a company may have a 1:1 ratio of men to women (which makes them diverse), if men in leadership hold a ratio of 15:1 (it doesn’t make them inclusive). In addition to comparing data points, participants in resource groups should be consulted on program development. Their perceptions, including feelings of powerlessness or lack of influence, need to be considered to elevate a diversity and inclusion program.

Are you ready to measure power and influence – and not just representation in your business? Did you know we design and deploy custom Diversity and Inclusion programs? Contact Atled Consulting Ltd. or call 1-866-285-3399 to learn more.