"Diversity" and "inclusion." Today, you'd (hopefully) be hard pressed to find a company-wide meeting that didn't touch on those two words in some way. But while the emphasis we've seen on these concepts in the last few years is great, I sometimes feel like they've lost their meaning.
I recently spoke with other diversity and inclusion professionals at the U.S. Open about the ways that my company, Kiip, seeks to genuinely foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. These methods can be applied to any company looking to create a workplace that's reflective of our ever-changing and progressing world--which should be all of them!
1. Make sure your recruitment pool is diverse.
You can't hire diverse candidates if your choices are all more or less homogenous. When you're hiring for a new position, you should seek to have candidates from a variety of backgrounds.
At Kiip, we hold our recruiting firms to the same standards we use internally. If 90 percent of the resumes that come in for a position are males, we challenge the firm to come back with a more even representation. Then, and only then, do we start filtering for interviewees.
2. Call out a lack of diversity--and encouraging conversation.
While we've certainly made progress when it comes to diversity in the workplace, we can always do better. An important factor in doing better is holding each other accountable, and that includes across companies.
It's not about saying, "Well, we're better than them," or "They're doing a bad job"--it's about pointing out where diversity is lacking, and fostering an open dialogue. Kiip's advisors and investors regularly question our diversity make up at the executive level, and I personally remind my peers about our responsibility to uphold diversity.
3. Make sure your products address a diverse audience.
We live in an era where everything feels accessible--except when it's not. Ever seen stories about product sensors that don't recognize darker skin tones? Yeah, not accessible. Having a diverse team means having people who will help make your product as unifying as possible.
At Kiip, we strive to have a diverse product. This means using advertising that includes women and people of color, and developing rewards that are accessible on any device, via any connection, rather than only on high-end electronics.
4. Make the work environment comfortable for all.
Unfortunately, the #MeToo movement has brought to light a number of horrible instances, in which victims of sexual harassment or violence did not feel comfortable coming forward with their stories in the workplace, or were outcast when they did.
Prioritizing employee comfort and safety, especially for employees from marginalized backgrounds, needs to go beyond human resources. Diversity should be highlighted, so consider encouraging employees from similar backgrounds to form workplace groups. As leaders, it's up to us to remind our employees to celebrate their diversity, and, when appropriate, allow them to create their own safe spaces.
5. Partner with companies that have diverse leadership.
You are a reflection of the company you keep, as the saying goes. But think beyond just avoiding companies with major scandals in the news; that's a no-brainer. Seek out companies with diverse leadership and a diversity-first mindset. Not only does this mean they're prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their workplace, but it's likely that their products are better, too, because they've got a number of perspectives making the important decisions.
Organizations like the USPAACC encourage large corporations to source from vendors that are ethnic minority-owned. It's just healthier to work with companies that recognize that diversity leads to good business.