In May, Built In Colorado writer Joyce Famakinwa highlighted 4 Colorado tech companies taking an active approach to diversity - Gusto, Thanx, Inc., Maxwell, and Xero. Their efforts fall into 5 buckets that your organization may be able to run with - see below.
1. Senior-level commitment - From regular executive messaging to dedicating budgets to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to pay incentives, organizations that take IDEA efforts seriously put their resources where their mouth is. More importantly, working thought diversity into the day-to-day operations takes ongoing commitment across organizations - and yields the best results, like 20% increased innovation and 30% decrease in risk, according to a Deloitte meta-study.
2. Awareness and building unconscious bias management - Most organizations taking IDEA efforts seriously describe awareness as an ongoing challenge - it can't be done once and then left alone, and many leaders struggle to really get how unconscious bias is having a tangible impact on every aspect of doing business. Gusto is finding that a focus on awareness alone has more than doubled the percentage of women engineers on their team. But understanding unconscious bias means admitting that we all have it and can't "good-intention" our way out of our biases - we need skills, tools, and systems to help us move past the categories our brains have created for us to make short-cut decisions about people.
3. Ensuring a diverse candidate pool for all job openings - This one is tough: when you have a qualified candidate, waiting to see what other options are available goes against a lot of instincts. But research shows that ensuring diversity from the very beginning pays dividends, and these organizations are seeing those results. Maxwell, for one, saw a 400% increase in women and minority staff, bumping the number from 8% to 30%, in less than 6 months (great results Maxwell, please keep going because less than 1/3 isn't good enough)! And they are seeing the ROI on having a more diverse workforce and waiting for a variety of candidates so they can choose those that can take their positions to the next level.
4. Explicit goals and strategies - Gusto uses three pillars and under the "composition" pillar, have an explicit goal for 50% of university hires to come from underrepresented backgrounds. With the pillars and the goals, the strategies to reach them are clear: their recruiting efforts target Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other schools that attract top students from underrepresented groups. Gusto is working it: 50.5% of the staff are women. I can't wait to see them report their numbers in leadership (eyebrow raised at you, Gusto).
5. Continued experimentation, evaluation of results and tweaking - As they say, what's measured is treasured (that's something they say, right?). Every organization is a little different and they sit within industries with different pressures, so the strategies that work best for one organization may fall flat in yours - and you won't know it unless you are paying attention to what changes. Noticing - with a systematic approach - the successes and challenges helps engage the continuous improvement mindset, one of the characteristics of the most successful organizations.
This list is far from complete - what is your organization doing to create a great workplace that attracts, engages, and fairly rewards a diverse group? Is it working, and how do you know? I would love to hear your story in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.