A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that organizations with diverse management teams were 35% more likely to have above-average profitability. Yet despite this compelling evidence, many companies still lack diversity at the top. Why is this? And what can be done to change it?
One reason for the lack of diversity is that the recruiting process often favors candidates who are like the hiring manager. This is known as homophily, or the tendency to associate with others like yourself. To counteract this bias, companies need to adopt diverse recruiting practices. This means reaching out to a wider range of sources when looking for candidates, including places like community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It also means using a diverse set of interviewers so that all candidates have a fair shot at impressing the company.
Another obstacle to diversity is that people tend to self-segregate into groups with others who share their race, gender, or other identity markers. To combat this, companies need to create an environment where people feel comfortable interacting with those who are different from them. One way to do this is by hosting regular events and outings, encouraging employees to mix and mingle. You can also create affinity groups for employees to join if they want to, but make sure not to let these become echo chambers where people only interact with those who share their views.
Finally, it’s important to remember that diversity is more than just a numbers game. Yes, having a certain percentage of women or people of color in your company is important. But it’s also important to create an inclusive culture where everyone feels like they belong. This means investing in training, and even certification, for managers on how to create an inclusive environment and ensuring that all employees feel like their voices are being heard.
Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce at your organization is more than checking boxes. Really committing to DEI involves an all-in approach with enthusiasm from the top and training for all. By taking these steps, your company can move closer toward true diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that benefits all involved.