Back in 2014, some of the largest tech companies around started the trend of releasing annual diversity reports. These companies included the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Apple. The idea behind this was to shed light on their workforce composition. However, the data revealed only raised many eyebrows, and for good reason. The reports stated that women only made up for around 30% of their workforce in these companies, with women just about making 15% of their overall technical workforce, with nothing to write home about.
While the move was hailed as a win for diversity in the workforce, it also raised many questions on the role of boards when it comes to recruiting diverse talent, and more importantly, how boards can lead inclusively from the top.
What is Diversity and Why is it Important?
Diversity at the workplace is about creating an environment that is inclusive and accepting of everyone, despite their individual differences. This allows all employees, regardless of their gender or ethnicity, or race to reach their full potential and not only grow as individuals but grow the business as a whole. Research shows that diverse working environments lead to faster decisions, higher productivity, and other advantages.
Leading from the Top
It goes without saying that inclusive organizations are highly dependent on inclusive leaders. That said, boards play a crucial role in the success of a D&I strategy. Keeping that in mind, the following are some tips for boards who want to play a more proactive role in hiring diverse talent in a post-COVID business landscape.
Get out of your comfort zone
Of course, addressing D&I issues in an organization means asking difficult questions. Some of the questions to ask are;
- Do we have equality in pay between the genders?
- Is a department consistently seeing a low racial diversity?
- Is there racial diversity at the executive level?
- Why are more female employees leaving our company?
These are just some of the questions where boards need to start when it comes to correcting their D&I strategy.
Set (and take steps to achieve) diversity goals
For a board, setting goals is great, but that’s just half of the challenge; you also need to take the necessary steps to ensure those diversity goals are achieved. Some of the best ways of ensuring that is by taking concrete steps such as:
- Making sure executives are held accountable for not meeting diversity goals
- Make transparency the order of the day
- Make sure goals are clearly communicated both internally and externally.
- Raise important questions with management.
- Regularly probe for details on D&I goals.
Mentoring and sponsorship
Policies that help create a diverse and inclusive working environment are key to success. Boards need to be committed to their D&I agenda by promoting mentoring and sponsorship and moving away from the check-the-box mentality.
The business world is witnessing a cultural shift when it comes to mindsets, both at the top and across organizations. Not only does diversity give business access to a greater talent pool (and not just to a specific ethnicity or race), diversity leads to better development and maximizes efficiency, which is only found in a culturally diverse workplace.