Are You Serious About Diversity?

Besides being the right thing to do, workplace diversity has many benefits.  For one, it makes your organization more attractive to job applicants. According to Glassdoor, more and more job applicants want to work for diverse companies. Their survey showed that 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is essential when considering job offers.

At a minimum, you want to be sure that all of your policies put you in compliance with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that is age, race, gender, and minority neutral. But that is not enough. 

First, identify what your needs are. Does your workforce resemble the communities that you serve? Does it match the demographic that you serve or want to serve? If not, develop a hiring strategy to increase workforce diversity.

Some companies talk about the importance of diversity but don’t do a very good job of fixing the problem. Start by looking at your executive team. A survey report from Boston Consulting Group found among the Fortune 500 companies, only 24 CEOs were women. That represents just 5% of the total number of CEOs. The same report pointed out that, among the 500 CEOs, only three are black, another three are openly gay, and one identifies as a lesbian. Does the makeup of your executive team reflect the diversity you seek?

Have you looked at gender pay inequality recently?   If you have a problem with pay, develop a strategy to address the shortcomings of your current approach. 

Diversity is not just about racial issues. My friend Keith Woods, NPR’s Chief Diversity Officer, told me that people frequently view diversity too narrowly. As an example, your organization needs to have multi generational diversity, as well.

Fixing workplace diversity begins with how recruitments are conducted and expectations for open positions. 

Take a look at your recent recruitments and determine whether the applicant pool includes people from different sexes, races, and age groups. If not, ask why? 

Is one person reviewing all of the applications? What oversight is in place to guard that the person isn’t looking to hire people who are similar to themselves?  This is one reason why more and more Human resource departments create screening committees to review applications against criteria that meet the job requirements and remove any bias. 

Even if hiring decisions are made with a hiring committee’s help, job descriptions need to be reviewed so that the language doesn’t discourage anyone from applying. Descriptions should have words that are gender-neutral and include a balance of descriptors and verbs. 

And it helps to prevent conscious or unconscious stereotype screening. While conscience decisions could prove to be against federal, state, or local employment laws, it is the unconscious screening that could be hurting your ability to have a diverse workforce. Try blind screening.  Have your HR department prepare a summary of all candidates without include names, addresses, or any other identifier that could hint at a race, age, or sex.  Make your initial decision on who to interview without being able to make judgments other than their qualifications.

If you see that you are only attracting white people or males once reviewing your past applicant pools, you need a new strategy. You may need to change your recruitment methods. Perhaps you need to do more outreach to other sectors of the community to encourage more applications. 

I’m also a big believer in creating internships or fellowship programs where you can work with area schools and Universities to find college-age students and give them hands-on experiences. If they work out, you can hire them when they graduate. 

Also, review your promotion policies. Are you training your current employees so they can move into management-level positions?  That will not only bring new points of view to your management team, but the individuals will have a greater understanding of how the organization works. 

You also want to make sure that the current work environment encourages people to stay rather than look for other opportunities. If persons of color on your staff feel that they are not treated the same or given equal opportunities, your diversity statement is useless. 

If that is the case, you need to begin with a comprehensive examination of policies and practices. Diversity training will assist in improving the work culture. 

To keep persons of color happy (or anyone for that matter), consider a mentoring program for new employees that gives them an internal support system. Any steps you take like this will not only help you retain good employees, but the word will get out about your welcoming culture. 

Supervisors should also ensure that everyone is given the same chance to take on new high profile assignments

Workplace diversity won’t happen unless all levels of your organization are committed to making it work.

7 responses to “Are You Serious About Diversity?”

  1. College (unpaid) internships are an absolutely terrible idea and fly directly in the face of a more diverse workforce. They dramatically limit the pool of candidates by restricting it to those who have substantial financial backing from their families and can afford both A: to go to college and B: work for free. If you have anyone working at your shop, they should be paid a prevailing wage (at least minimum wage), period. You can call it a “paid internship” and be clear about what the job responsibilities are that it is a date-limited position. But don’t limit it to college students; in fact college students should be the last possible pool you dip into to fill that role if you’re committed to getting more BIPOC in your shop.

    I mean, this has been identified as a serious problem *in public radio* for at least a decade now.


    • I agree that internships should not be limited to college students. At my previous station, we worked with the state broadcasters association through their annual job fair to attract a broader range of talent. Paid internships are important. I also advocate for full time fellowships.

      Liked by 2 people

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