Is Your Organization Diverse, or Does It Just Look That Way?


It takes more than a kind word to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace; it takes time, influence and experience. Is your organization really diverse or does it just looks that way? Here are some tips to evaluate your organization’s level of diversity and inclusivity, as well as ways you can promote growth in diversity and inclusivity from your current position.

Diversity and inclusion are two different ideas that go hand in hand. You cannot have diversity without inclusion. In a Forbes interview with Jennifer Brown, HR consultant and author of a book on the subject, Brown defines diversity as “the who and the what” (who’s working here and who’s being promoted, etc.) and inclusion as the how. Inclusion is the actions taken to embrace diversity.

Understanding diversity is only the first step 

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Annual Corporate Directors Survey explores the culture of executive boardrooms. Among respondents, 80% were male. 95% of surveyed executives believe that diversity adds organizational value. Nevertheless, America’s boardrooms are far from diverse.

Today, women encompass nearly half of the workforce and influence an estimated 70% to 80% of consumer spending, according to an article published by the Harvard Business Review. However, they represent only 24% of top executives among the S&P 500 a mere 3% gain since 2012. Among incoming directors, minority women represent only 9% of executives, while minority men encompass only 10% of new board members a 14% drop from 2017, according to the United States Spencer Stuart Board Index.

The diversity gap worsens outside of the boardroom. People of color make up nearly 33% of the American workforce, yet hold less than 5% of leadership roles.

As a professional, you can use your current sphere of influence to promote organizational diversity. If you work in human resources, for instance, you can adopt, advocate for, and support diverse hiring practices. Furthermore, you can implement or lobby for hiring initiatives that attract people with varying characteristics.

Human resource professionals can also support diverse hiring by posting job openings on interest sites such as Diversity WorkingHire Autism and Hire Purpose. You can also implement or advocate for internships and scholarships for underrepresented groups. Lastly, you can grow your D&I efforts by having your underrepresented talent mentor prospective employees. Platforms like Mentor Spaces allow companies to build authentic relationships with emerging talent and show them with their actions, and not just their words, how committed they are to their D&I efforts.

Learn to identify unconscious bias

To promote diversity in your organization, learn how to identify unconscious bias. Although it may seem counterintuitive, this begins with a self-assessment.

Develop an objective assessment of your attitude toward diversity by taking the Implicit Association Test (IAT) at the Project Implicit website. Once you understand your own biases, you’re better equipped to identify unconscious bias within your organization.

Evaluate what the company is already doing

Learn about what your organization is already doing to promote diversity. If you are unsure of your organization’s stand on diversity and inclusion, learn about existing diversity policies by speaking to a human resource representative. Learn the diversity goals of your organization and how they connect to your role as an employee or organizational leader.

There is no one-size-fits-all method for launching a diversity initiative successfully. However, leadership for your diversity initiative is a must. One enterprise may benefit from an executive diversity board while another enterprise may find better results by establishing a diversity council composed of staff members.

Do your part to promote diversity

Commit to using your professional role in any way possible to support your organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Start by helping to further your company’s existing diversity agenda.

Companies that employ women and minority leaders send a message that they truly value diversity. Moreover, differing perspectives enable corporations to grasp the real issues that face society.

Genuine diversity and inclusion cannot happen without buy-in from top executives. It’s not enough, however, to point out the fairness of diversity and inclusion or present studies that show such initiatives are a success. You must show executives how diversity will improve business outcomes and how key performance indicators can link diversity to improved business outcomes.

Diversity is just good business

A Deloitte study highlights Australia’s Qantas Airways Limited, which posted a profit of $850 million in 2017 a phenomenal rebound from its record-breaking $2.8 billion loss in 2013.

According to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, diversity, and a genuinely inclusive corporate culture, enabled the company to bounce back. The Qantas revival exemplifies the Deloitte formula for diversity success: “Diversity + inclusion = better business outcomes.”

Support a sincere corporate culture of diversity and inclusion from your current role. By doing so, you will empower your organization as well as your community to thrive and prosper.