By the Skills4Good Media Team
2019 October 3
Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that the Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Baltimore discriminated against black job applicants in favour of white job applicants. The company was found guilty of discriminating against 2,336 black applicants who were passed over for the company’s management trainee programs over a ten-year period. Because of its discriminatory hiring practices, the company was required to pay $16.3 million in lost earnings, interest and benefits to the wronged applicants.
Oscar Hampton, Regional Solicitor of the Department of Labor, minced no words when he said: "The judge's order stands for fairness in employment and sends a clear message of the serious costs of hiring discrimination".
"Diversity and inclusion has become a CEO-level issue around the world," observed Deloitte in its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report. "The era of diversity as a 'check the box' initiative owned by HR is over. CEOs must take ownership and drive accountability among leaders at all levels to close the gap between what is said and actual impact".
According to a McKinsey & Company’s report “Delivering Through Diversity”, top companies around the world consider Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) a source of competitive advantage. Some companies regard it as a matter of talent attraction and engagement. Some consider D&I as part of their corporate social responsibility. While others consider it as an essential component of their innovation and growth strategies. The report further revealed that ethnic and racial diverse companies are 33% more likely to perform better than their peers on profitability. In addition, organizations with a more racially or ethnically diverse workforce, especially at leadership levels, signal to their employees that they also understand and value their diverse customers and stakeholders.
Here are three D&I initiatives which companies use to create a more inclusive workplace culture:
1. Mentoring Employees
Mentoring programs in a company give employees a greater sense of belonging. They humanize the employee experience, fostering a more inclusive workplace. These programs create a safe environment in which diverse employees can engage and share their various mental models and perspectives. A company with programs like career mentoring, flash mentoring and reverse mentoring creates a greater sense of belonging for employees. It also creates stronger and more diverse teams. Such programs can have a direct impact on the D&I metrics of the company, signaling its strategic focus in creating a more inclusive workplace culture.
2. Reviewing Systems to Reduce Bias
A company’s organizational systems should act as a check and balance to the unconscious biases of managers across the enterprise. These systems should be scrutinized to ensure that they actually achieve the goal of making the workplace fairer and more equitable. By regularly reviewing and revamping these systems, a company becomes more intentional in its D&I efforts. For example, job advertisements can expressly provide a statement that the company encourages more diverse applicants. In another example, companies like Uber have revised their job advertisements by replacing the phrase “culture fit” with “culture add” to clearly articulate that their employee recruitment efforts are inclusive and all-embracing of differences.
3. Engaging with Local Communities
Companies can attract a more diverse workforce through corporate citizenship initiatives like skills-based volunteering programs. Such initiatives are effective in deepening the relationship with the communities in which their employees live and work. They also expose employees to diverse experiences with people of varying backgrounds, thus creating fertile minds for employee creativity and innovation. Employees who are supported in their volunteering efforts also experience the company’s deep commitment to their personal and professional growth. They also appreciate the company’s efforts in making the world a better place for all by leveraging employee talents for social impacts.
The corporate world is changing at an unprecedented rate. So is the modern workforce, as employees are demanding more from their employers. Companies that understand these changing dynamics know that it is crucial to marshal resources towards D&I strategies to attract, engage and retain diverse talent.
As with the case of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, companies that fail to implement meaningful D&I strategies will be vulnerable to dire consequences, such as payment of lawsuit costs, low employee morale and severe damage to their brand and reputation.
Thus, companies should take ownership of their D&I initiatives to create an inclusive workplace culture where all employees can take their whole selves to work. As they say, “that’s not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”