Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

February 26, 2019 | Rob Catalano

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Practical Advice on Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace with Sacha De Klerk

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Sacha De Klerk, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Norton Rose Fulbright for our webinar on Diversity and Inclusion. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’re providing a recap of the webinar in this post. Let’s get started. 

How was Sacha introduced to the subject of diversity? Sacha first learned about the topic of organizational diversity through a discrimination workshop, which (unfortunately) focused on outlining all the things you shouldn’t say or shouldn’t do. It centered around compliance, rather than the opportunity to grow.

Why aren’t we making more progress with diversity and inclusion?

It’s all about the approach. We’re stuck on the stick and forgetting about “the carrot”. We need to think less about what we’re doing wrong and more about what we can do individually and collectively to create a diverse and inclusive culture. Diversity training is often coupled with sexual harassment training. These types of training often don’t change behaviors, they just tell people what will happen when they disobey.

Underlying problems with the system:

  • Diversity management often excludes the most influential demographic – white men. They are often left feeling that diversity is not about them, and yet without them, we cannot make progress.
  • The myth of the meritocracy – people who work hard are supposed to rise to the top – but this isn’t true at all. If it were true, we wouldn’t see so much unfairness today.
  • Change doesn’t happen without urgency. Diversity may not feel like a burning issue to senior leadership and managers, and sometimes it gets pushed to the backburner.
  • Diversity is not integrated into business decisions.
  • Members of leadership are merely “ticking boxes” – they don’t truly understand the benefits of diversity and inclusion or why they should make a concerted effort to improve. The CEO must take ownership and drive accountability.

Then Vs. Now:

The business case is evolving.

Then: diversity used to be important because the workplace needed to represent society.

Now: many organizations are global. Diversity is a business reality for organizational effectiveness both internally and externally.

Then: It was “the right thing” to do.

Now: It’s proven that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams.

Tips & Suggestions to Consider

  • Use technology and data to identify problems and measure progress
    • Be sure you get meaningful information and not just more platforms for the sake of platforms
  • This needs to be a business responsibility, not just an HR responsibility, owned by all leaders
  • Old rules don’t always apply
  • We need to link diversity and inclusion initiatives to organizational structure and accountability
  • Create accountability for the decisions leaders make, by maintaining ratios. This reveals how they’re making decisions.
    • E.g. make the first round of job applications gender-blind. Compare those scores with the final decisions at the end to reveal any biases in the process.
  • Get the conversation going. Get people talking. When conversations about differences,  diversities and behaviors feel normal, they take place more frequently.  Constant communication leads to more positive change.
  • Get people together and list “elephant-in-the-room” topics. They might include subjects from the media, personal experiences, books, or culture. Participants talk in small circles about their opinions, advice, and more. Normalize speaking about these things.
  • There are so many ways to learn about this topic in non-traditional ways. Have fun with it.  Stop supplement or replace traditional training methods.

Solving diversity challenges can complex. But evolving our approach and trying lots of different things is really important. If something doesn’t work, we need to try something else, keep it fun, and keep it relevant.

Thanks to Sacha De Klerk for speaking to us about diversity and inclusion.

Rob Catalano

Rob Catalano

Rob Catalano is WorkTango’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer. Rob has spent the last 17 years building HR Technology companies.