Over the past several years, a growing number of companies have implemented new diversity measures or hired diversity officers to instill change within their organizations. Facebook, for instance, has a Global Chief Diversity Expert who develops new strategies for recruiting and supporting people from underrepresented groups at the company. This past May, Zoom Video Communications hired its own Chief Diversity Officer to oversee its global diversity and inclusion strategy. But how often is a diversity executive actually able to make a visible change in the office culture? Are companies giving them the support and resources they need to change the demographics of their workforce?
Under the criticism that most of their company executives are white, cis-men, and that their workforce, in general, lacks diversity, many businesses are working toward making their workplace more inclusive of different genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. From medicine to entertainment to education, most industries struggle with hiring and maintaining a diverse workplace. That’s why so many companies are following this new trend of hiring diversity executives.
Several big-name companies have made the news for hiring diversity executives, including:
While a significant number of organizations do not hire diversity executives until after they face public scrutiny, several organizations were initially built upon the mission to elevate and support people from marginalized backgrounds. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, for instance, made waves in the beauty industry when it debuted a diverse foundation collection that included 40 different shades for a variety of skin tones. It also launched one of the most diverse campaigns in the beauty industry yet. But for companies that have traditionally employed a homogenous workforce, they face the challenge of successfully diversifying it after years of failing to hire and retain people from underrepresented groups.
Besides preventing the company from facing a PR disaster, diversity and inclusion efforts do bring significant benefits to all of its employees. Having people from different backgrounds can bring multiple perspectives to a room that may not have been considered otherwise. It will also help teams think outside of the box and remain motivated and creative throughout different projects.
When you have a heterogeneous workforce rather than one that is dominated by a particular group, you are opening yourself to new possibilities and ideas. A workforce filled mostly with people from the same demographic severely limits its creativity. A mostly homogeneous workforce can also make it harder for people from underrepresented groups to feel included or heard. In fact, only 40% of women reported that they felt involved in different decision-making processes at their organization. In a 2013 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 78% of employees said there was a lack of diversity among executives at their company.
Having a more diverse workplace will also boost its brand reputation. By investing in a more diverse workplace, you will have an easier time connecting to your clientele or customer base. As you expand nationally or globally, you will have an easier time communicating with these new areas if you have a diverse team behind you. Hiring and nurturing a diverse team of employees can increase productivity and innovation. This will ultimately improve your company’s bottom line. While having an improved reputation can increase your company’s sales, it will also benefit society and future generations of workers in the long run.
Companies are not required to release statistics on the demographics of their workforce. This can make it challenging to track diversity among a wide range of industries. However, the data that has been gathered from numerous surveys reveals that most companies have a long way to go before successfully building a diverse workplace.
Take these statistics, for instance:
Companies that fail to address these issues tend to suffer from higher rates of employee satisfaction. They also experience a faster turnover rate.
Diversity executives can implement changes in companies in several ways.
Some employees criticize their companies for using their diversity executive as a symbolic figurehead rather than a valuable manager who can make a real change in the company. Indeed, if the company’s leadership does not listen to the diversity executive’s suggestions or doesn’t put enough support behind their changes, their executives will function as little more than a member of the PR team.
Companies do not give diversity executives the power to hire more people from underrepresented backgrounds and improve the workplace culture typically face a higher turnover rate for these positions. One way to ensure the success of the new diversity initiatives implemented by these executives is to examine a company’s current statistics on pay, opportunities for promotions, and learning programs presented to employees across different genders and ethnicities.
Building a diverse workplace doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, skill, and patience to successfully change your company’s work demographic. Does your company have a diversity executive? How are they changing the internal structure of the company, if at all? Let us know!
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