Diversity & Inclusion in 2015: Moving from “Why” to “How”

In 2014, one talent acquisition and talent management theme among many has taken center stage: diversity and inclusion. Major IT companies found themselves releasing their diversity demographics and revealing, in most cases, just how non-diverse they truly are. To name a few, there was Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon and LinkedIn, all publishing the demographic makeup of their workforces.

Just 11% of global companies in 2014 indicate having a "diverse and truly inclusive" culture. -Bersin by Deloitte

Of these above diversity reports, there was a common theme: leading tech companies companies are extremely male, predominantly white and universally feel the need to develop more diverse and inclusive environments. In fact, Intel Corporation announced just this week an investment of $300 million to “bring its workforce diversity up to ‘full representation’ of women and ‘underrepresented minorities’ by 2020.”

The chatter about diversity within the world of IT represents a growing realization across all industries of the need to become more diverse. Although many leaders are discussing diversity needs, they are challenged in finding the right answers to their diversity-related questions. This happens for two reasons:

  1. Diversity is a tough and awkward conversation for many to wrangle. Too often conversations regarding diversity get muddled in definitions and minute details – which derail anything resembling progress.
  2. There are no quick fixes to diversity challenges, yet many companies (along with their stakeholders) are looking for immediate results. You can’t simply post to a “diversity-focused job board,” host a seminar or two on “being inclusive” or share diversity data and expect to magically become a diverse workplace. The real solution is likely years in the making, as changes to paradigms and policies take time to mature.

Sure, there are a few changes you can make that may improve your statistics in the short term, but transformation in diversity hiring is a long-term project. Ultimately, companies need to want to make their corporate culture more diverse and inclusive for the right reasons – this doesn’t include just looking good within a data report.

The Value of a Diverse Workforce

Research has proven the value of diversity. For example, McKinsey and Company has shown that companies who have executive teams with diverse backgrounds significantly outperform (financially) those without. Extensive research by the University of Michigan’s business school shows that a group of diverse problem solvers will outperform a group that consists of the highest-ability performers but lacks diversity within the group. Diversity is also a key driver of innovation, which is perhaps one reason the IT giants listed above need to wrap their arms around their issues sooner than later. Further, having the reputation as a diverse place to work makes it easier to recruit other diverse talent.

The list of tangible benefits for creating diverse workplaces is so vast, that we are hopefully (and finally) moving past diversity initiatives existing simply for the sake of checking off boxes.

Creating a More Inclusive and Diverse Workforce – The Next Steps

As 2015 gets further underway, moving beyond the why to how we can make diversity and inclusion a reality is a hot topic for many talent strategists. Although there are no quick-fix answers, there are three distinct steps you can take to get started:

Step 1 is realizing that diversity means more to your company than just being fair or being able to check the “we are diverse” box. Companies that fail to grasp the true value behind being inclusive and diverse will never effectively meet their diversity goals. Instead, they will likely end up with a diversity plan that simply consists of a blurb at the end of their job postings (checking that box!).

Step 2 is to look throughout your company (as the above tech companies did) and figure out where you have room for improvements and how your diversity statistics match up with the local market – for example, a company may seek a 50-50 balance between female and male candidates, but the market population may be 70-30. Once your analysis is complete, you can develop attainable goals/a roadmap.

Step 3 is to embed your company’s genuine attitude towards inclusivity into the company’s branding. This is most effectively done through social media, but the key word is genuine. Candidates can tell when your diversity plan is limited to buzzwords and finding diversity-related stock photos for your website. Highlight real employees with diverse backgrounds who play impactful roles. Tell stories of how your organization’s benefits and programs help strengthen company culture. And, continuously evaluate these programs to make sure they are indeed working (flexible hours, for example), because candidates will know if “great employee benefits” is simply lip service. Ultimately, be who you are you are so that transparency doesn’t scare you.

Look to Yahoo! for decent examples of how to showcase employees. However, the posts are now outdated which hurts their credibility. A screenshot of their most recent post:

Look to Yahoo! for decent examples of how to showcase employees. However, the posts are now outdated which hurts their credibility.

Tell Your Company’s Story!

A huge part of your diversity plan is telling your company’s story, which means you must be comfortable with your story and speaking to it. As the tech giants show, this story might not be perfect straight away, but it shouldn’t scare a company away from showcasing where they are, where they want to be and how they plan on getting there. Too often, diversity is considered a delicate, sensitive topic that we are scared of discussing. To meet our goals, this needs to change.

Are you interested in learning more about diversity and methods of attracting more diverse candidates? Register to view our complimentary webinar, Flexible Working – Business Obligation or Business Imperative?, on January 20 to hear why the ability to work flexibly is a crucial factor in recruiting a diverse talent pool.


Post contributed by Phillip Marquart, Cielo Segment Analyst. Connect with Phillip via LinkedIn or on Twitter @TheDataNerd.