Sophia MadanaWritten by

Overcoming Assumptions in Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity, Recruitment Marketing, Tactics| Views: 576

In our last post in this series, we touched on the workforce’s growing demand to work for value-driven companies that understand the holistic benefits of prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We also discussed some techniques hiring managers and recruiters can implement to authentically promote a diverse workforce, such as utilizing blind hiring techniques and implementing methods that check their unconscious bias at every step in the recruitment process.

But, once a diverse workforce is in place, the efforts should not stop there. Companies must follow through by prioritizing retention. To do that they must prioritize cultivating and nurturing an inclusive culture.

Inclusion in Action

Inclusion is one of the most important components of retaining diverse talent. We hear a lot of buzz around “bringing your whole self” to work, but it’s up to companies and leadership to create safe spaces to allow for open dialogue and ensure employees won’t be isolated if they were to put those words to action. This ongoing conversation can help identify employee-centered approaches to developing a more inclusive workplace.

Let’s take a closer look at an example of how inclusion practices can be applied.

It’s been well documented that women working in science and tech are leaving the workforce in droves. While the common preconceived notion is that motherhood and starting a family is the reason for female workforce departure, several surveys conducted in the last two years have confirmed that reasons such as lack of learning and development, lack of career growth options and the gender pay gap are the main culprits of women backing away from climbing the ladder in their respective fields, especially in STEM.

Employees interviewed did suggest some possible solutions in how to retain more women in STEM roles. According to a survey by Indeed, employees cited that companies could be more transparent about salaries and be more transparent around a company’s status on gender-pay equity. According to the same survey, “publicizing the process for internal mobility could help retain the six in ten women who are interested in moving within the company.” 

It’s easy to rely on our preconceived notions to feel like we have an understanding of an employee’s motivations. But companies often don’t find out the real motivations for an employee’s departure until it’s too late, like the exit interview. The good news is there’s something companies can do to overcome these assumptions before they lose the diverse talent they’ve worked so hard to recruit. Companies can actively work to check their assumptions by doing the proper research and allowing diverse employees and candidates to have a seat at the table.

Building Community

To overcome assumptions about your workforce—and avoid unsatisfied talent—companies can ensure they have a means of regularly hearing from their workforce and the broader talent pool.

Genentech, a California-based biotech company that develops medicine for people with serious and life-threatening diseases, has experimented with new ways of developing diverse talent by way of building trust and community.

Genentech created an external pilot program called Diversity LABS (Leadership, Authenticity and Belonging in Science). This initiative was designed to examine the most pressing personal and professional issues affecting marginalized and underrepresented talent. It seeks to build a community of belonging, explore alternative approaches to leadership and offers safe spaces for authentic expression of identity. Ultimately, it works to better align personal values with desired organizational culture. According to Traci Schmitz, Head of Talent Innovation and Marketing at Genentech, they think of this initiative as having “bi-directional” effects, creating change within Genentech as well as in the larger scientific community.

Genentech also created The Change Sequence, which is a series of on-campus networking events. These events celebrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and among the Bay Area community—again achieving that bi-directional effect.

“The purpose here,” Schmitz explained, “is to expand our reach into diverse talent pools and to position Genentech as the employer of choice among diverse leaders in biotech and the life sciences.”

Just like with any business strategy, Schmitz believes a large component to measuring the impact of D&I programs is pre-determining what success looks like for each effort, tracking that effort and optimizing it.

However, this can’t be possible without happy employees who are aren’t afraid to dive in and make mistakes within a safe space. “It’s important to me to co-create and cultivate a safe environment. I want everyone to know we can be real with each other.” Establishing this safe environment allows Schmitz’s team to be willing to explore, experiment and iterate. “When we experiment, we give ourselves permission to see what’s possible.”

Consistent D&I Efforts Add Up

Putting in a major investment in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is not only good for the employees you’ve recruited, but it’s also good for business. According to a study at McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

…companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

But at TMP Worldwide we see too often companies wanting to jump straight to representation of a diverse workforce without implementing the cultural changes that will retain the talent they’ve already attracted.

In our next installment, we’ll show how all of these methods taken in combination give candidates a sense of your company’s diversity as well as a means of attracting the kind of diverse talent you want.

Sophia Madana

About Sophia Madana

As a Sr. Content Strategist at TMP Worldwide, Sophia consults clients on how content marketing and social media can impact an employer’s overarching goals. She uses her knowledge to create tailored strategies and document measurable milestones. Sophia has been honing her content and social marketing experience since 2009 for B2C as well as B2B initiatives. She has a background in Journalism.

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