2020 was a year like no other. Among the many unprecedented and tragic events, the murder of George Floyd and the surge of COVID-19 revealed the twin pandemics of institutional and structural racism, and health disparities among communities of color. In 2020, we also saw a large exodus of women – especially women of color – from the workplace due to the pandemic.
The events of 2020 showed that although we do have laws, and somewhat effective ones, they still have not been sufficient to uproot decades, if not centuries, of institutional racism and structures that have served to exclude rather than to include.
While diversity initiatives are not new, the Floyd murder spurred a new level of action. In its article, “It’s Time for a New Approach to Racial Equity,” McKinsey states:
“Between May 25 and the end of October, about one-third of Fortune 1000 companies made a public statement on racial equity. Of those companies, 93 percent followed up with an internal or external commitment, and 57 percent publicly announced the amount they were committing to racial equity initiatives, pledging a total of $66 billion. More than three-fifths of external financial commitments explicitly extend over multiple years.”
There is a definite moral case for embracing diversity in the workplace and we’ve all seen the studies that show companies with more diverse workforces enjoy greater profitability than those with less. Our changing demographics provide another compelling reason for robust Diversity & Inclusion efforts.
We have become a more diverse nation. According to the William H. Frey Analysis of U.S. Census Population Projections (2018), whites, who are now the numerical minority in several states, are projected to be the nation’s minority by 2045. Over the next 40 years, we will see a growth of a youthful population with a majority of racial minorities. In 2018, William H. Frey wrote:
“Minorities will be the source of all of the growth in the nation’s youth and working age population, most of the growth in its voters, and much of the growth in its consumers and tax base as far into the future as we can see.”
Companies that foster a culture of inclusivity will thrive in the years to come. Leadership must commit to building organizations that value and respect the different perspectives of their workforce and create a safe place where people can be their authentic selves. When people feel comfortable and appreciated, they will stay in their jobs longer and be open to sharing ideas that can spur innovation.
So how can we build more inclusive organizations?
- Make Diversity & Inclusion a Priority
D&I should be a key value of an organization and not just a “nice to have.” These initiatives should come from the top and be woven into the core mission of the organization. Having a Chief Diversity Officer means one person at the C-level is constantly thinking about how to maximize Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity, and keeps the conversation about DEI active and on-going. Setting measurable goals that are tracked and tied into compensation will ensure that a company’s D&I initiatives are put into action.
- Understand our biases
We all have biases that have been formed from our own experiences, what we have been told, institutional influences, and media portrayals among other things. Implicit bias is when we are unaware of our prejudice and preference and believe we are acting fairly and objectively. Implicit bias shows up most when we have to think and process quickly, when we don’t have all the information and have to guess, and when we’re scared. Training related to implicit bias is important because it allows you to recognize your bias and determine how it affects other people. Facing our bias is the first step to changing it.
- Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them. EQ requires self-reflection so that we learn to be aware of our emotions and how to manage them, along with handling our relationships with others. Developing EQ will give way to a greater understanding and empathy to those who are different than us, which promotes a more harmonious working environment.
- Promote Allyship
An ally is someone who supports and represents an underrepresented group but is not a member of that group. Allies can be sponsors, advocates, or mentors who find ways to make their standing or privilege work for others. A Deloitte article entitled, “The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership,” states:
“Allyship promotes empathy, authenticity, and courage. It also promotes embracing people for the multiple dimensions and identities that they bring to the table. A culture that values allyship expects individuals both to recognize their own identities and advance inclusion by helping to drive real change.”
Just as any of these action items alone will not be enough to grow inclusion, one person alone cannot do it either. To truly nurture an inclusive culture EVERYONE in the organization needs to recognize its value and how they personally contribute and benefit from it. Visit our website for more information about BlueSky’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts.