Hiring Diverse Candidates Is Not Enough -- It's About Keeping Them
By Maynard Webb, Forbes Contributor
We all know that building a company that embraces diversity is the right thing to do, ethically. But it’s also the right thing to do to make your company stronger. The performance of your business will be better if you are more diverse because your company will be more representative of society as a whole. It better understands its customers, its community and its purpose. Don’t just take my word for it: there’s evidencethat diverse and women-friendly workplaces perform better. A report from McKinsey & Company indicates that the top racially diverse tech companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns higher than the tech sector’s national median. Companies that are more gender diverse are 15% more likely to outperform others, and those that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to do better than others.
And yet, in Silicon Valley, where I live and work — and a place that I love for its commitment to innovation and support of founders — has been exposed as an environment that could be vastly improved for a large percentage of the working population. There’s room and reason for all of us to become better at building workplaces that support and celebrate diversity.
As a leader you have to do some important work to allow all that talent to thrive — and this means creating an environment of inclusion and belonging. I went to a panel of experts for advice on what to do to build this kind of workplace. Here’s what they had to say:
Examine your culture. Diversity isn’t something you can just hire your way out of. To truly make the workplace more inclusive, evaluate your methods of mentorship and promotion.
Support a culture that celebrates inclusion. Embracing diversity requires means that you may need to change the way you work to accommodate a broad range of people. Employ policies that are equitable for both men and women.
Just as you have to be aware of unconscious biases in the hiring process, it’s important to mitigate issues like unconscious bias through all phases of the employee life cycle. Particular areas to evaluate and make sure they are inclusive include the evaluation process, promotions and succession planning.
Understand that workplace enhancements that also promote diversity and inclusion are also efforts that help traditional workers, as well as millennials. This may including promoting work-life balance; demonstrating the meaning in the work, and rewarding loyalty — all of which are important to many types of workers. Find a way to welcome and celebrate everyone and ensure no one feels isolated. Provide gender-neutral bathrooms and everything employees need to feel comfortable.
Listen. Consider developing a task force internally, made up of anyone who is committed to seeing your business become more diverse. Meet monthly, and give them latitude to take practices from other companies and employ them. Listen earnestly to their suggestions. And give them the latitude to speak and write about their findings — it may be uncomfortable, but building transparency about your company’s interest in improvement will help to win over your next generation of employees. Solicit feedback from your diverse candidates and ask them to score how you are doing and share what they think you can do better.
Grow the circle wider. As you work to become a more modern, inclusive workplace, I encourage you to expand your circle of concern outward. Consider building an internship program with all-female or historically black universities. Adopt a school in an at-risk neighborhood, and send them supplies, bring students into the office, and commit to the school’s improvement. Let your employees tell the story of your company’s journey, in the hopes that you inspire others to follow you.
Remember this work must be constant and it requires your consistent commitment and nourishment, but with it you will see the rewards.