Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Individual and institutional changes to promote equality in your work environment
Diversity and Inclusion is a factor that many job seekers highly prioritize when looking for a career change. According to Glassdoor, two-thirds of active and passive job seekers believed that diversity and inclusion was a top factor for evaluating companies. Incorporating strategies that promote diversity and inclusion in your organization improves self-worth, trust in upper management, and amplifies the voices of people of color and women. Additionally, these inclusive initiatives have been found to increase innovation, revenue, and market share. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that innovation revenue increased by an average of 19% in companies with above average diversity. A separate survey found that employees that had inherent and acquired diversity were 45% more likely to report increased market share and 70% more likely to acquire a new market.
It’s obvious that initiatives towards diversity and inclusion have both interpersonal and business value, so how can you get started creating institutional and personal changes that benefit your coworkers and your business? Let’s find out!
Embracing Diversity on a Institutional Level
“A cultural-psychological approach suggests that the solution to the problem of racism is not to change the fish so that it can survive in toxic water but instead to change the water the fish has to live in.” — Adams et. al
In order to address diversity and inclusion on an institutional level, it’s necessary for staff to push their HR managers and upper executive management to adopt more inclusive initiatives. On the other hand, it’s important for those in upper management to own the fight for diversity and actively lead efforts towards inclusive initiatives.
Some examples of companies that have successfully developed their diversity and inclusion efforts often incorporate a wide variety resources. Lets take a look at some of the most diverse and inclusive companies for a better understanding:
L’Oréal USA achieved a perfect score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, which measures factors like workforce protections, inclusive benefits, and supporting inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility. L’Oréal USA:
- Employs the use of employee-driven think tanks to protect the rights and well-being of LGBTQ community members
- Also partnered with the Ali Forney Center to act as a council for LGBTQ career and education
BlackRock has time and again reinforced its commitment to diversity and inclusion through the use of various programs directed at black and Latinx community members. BlackRock:
- Has introduced leadership programs and a Black Leadership Forum for its black employees
- Incorporated rotational programs for black professionals in their early careers
- Actively considers and promotes black leaders in succession planning
- Mandates all employees to attend a course on “racial equity” and offers lectures on black inclusion
Unilever provides resources for LGBTQ+, women, and people of color in order to allow their employees to show up authentically each day. Unilever:
- Established a Global Diversity Board that provides vision and governance for diversity and inclusion matters
- Increased their women managers from 38% to 51% from 2010 to 2019
- Provides a framework for fair compensation which enables livable wage for Unilever’s employees regardless of nationality, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability
Addressing racism on a company level means pushing our HR managers and upper executive management to bear the fight against racism. To learn more about what your upper executives can be doing to fight for anti-racism, visit the Times Up Foundation for a more comprehensive guide.
Embracing Diversity on a Personal Level
When addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s important to remember that each and every one of us has an inherent bias towards racism and sexism. These biases have been programmed into us by our culture and affect us on a day to day basis, operating in the form of microaggressions, aversive racism and sexism, and in our subconscious minds.
In order to address these often subtle forms of in our day-to-day lives, it’s important to approach these problems from an individual understanding of worth. Shame need not be brought into the discussion of racism, as these forms of racism have been existent in our lives since the first ship of African slaves landed in the US. Ibram X. Kendi describes this with a metaphor, relating being rained on with racist ideas:
“You have no umbrella, and you don’t even know that you’re wet with those racist ideas. Then someone comes along and says, ‘You know what, you’re wet, and these ideas are still raining on your head. Here’s an umbrella.’ You can be like, ‘Thank you! I didn’t even realize I was drenched.’” — Ibram X. Kendi, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
Fear of being wrong won’t end the fight against racism; If you make a mistake, identify it and make sure to affirm your commitment to anti-racism. So, after addressing the problem of racism in the workplace with an understanding of personal worth undeterred by inherent racist ideas, change can occur on both a personal level.
The most common, yet often most subtle, form of racism that exists in the workplace are microaggressions. These are the passing comments and gestures that signify disrespect and indignity towards in the workplace.
For instance, asking one of your black woman coworkers how she got her job or where she’s REALLY from are examples of microaggressions. These types of questions could be perceived as an attack on the coworker’s ability to do her job, as the question assumes she may not have gotten the job if she wasn’t black. Calling these acts of racism what they are and shutting them down are important for addressing racism in your work environment.
Furthermore, addressing the effect of stereotype threat is important for overcoming racial inhibitions. From Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi, stereotype threat occurs when a member of a racial or gender group fears affirming stereotypes about their group when another racial/gender group that are stereotyped as better in that activity. For instance, women taking a math test in the presence of men may perform worse as a result of fearing that they may conform to the negative stereotype that men are superior to women in math.
“Stereotype threat can affect domain identification, job engagement, career aspirations, and openness to feedback.” — Bettina Casad and William Bryant
Identifying and recognizing when you or your colleagues may be feeling these stereotype threats allows an opportunity to try to understand their perception.
By informing yourself and your colleagues about the often subconscious forms of racism, identifying and calling out acts of overt and covert racism when they appear, and pushing upper executive management to own the fight for diversity inclusion, a more diverse and inclusive work environment will emerge.