It’s almost that time of year when America’s top tech companies release their annual reports offering the public a glimpse into the number of underrepresented employees across their ranks.While they offer a glance into how companies are faring in the diversity department, they don’t tell the full story.
Diversity gets people into the room, but inclusion keeps them there.
True diversity is about more than just numbers; it must come with a heavy dose of inclusion. That means a company must be intentional about creating and fostering a culture where everyone has a seat at the table, not just entry to the room to watch as a bystander.
So how do companies achieve that? How can executives measure progress?
Don’t just look at hiring and recruiting trends. Pay attention to equity & access.
Bottom line: Not providing equity and access is the reason why employees are using your company as a revolving door. Here are six reasons why your are losing key employees:
1. You pay according to salary history instead of title and experience.
If two people with the same experience and education are hired as peers, are their titles and pay equal? Because people of color and women are often underpaid, even when moving companies or switching roles, they lose out of money based on salary history. Assuring that rank and pay are fair helps keep people of color and women from being under-leveled and underpaid.
2. You forced women and minorities to work harder for promotions.
A closer look at the way promotions are given offers a key indicator for how women and minorities are judged at a company.
- Do minorities have to “count more wins” than everyone else to get promoted?
- How is success defined for the job?
- Is that a static comparison, all things being equal?
- How long does it take to achieve goals compared to other employees?
The answers to these questions can tell you if your organization offers everyone, regardless of race and gender, a chance to thrive. Companies must ensure that there are routine and consistent expectations for a role, metrics to determine success are clear and communicated, and all employees subject to those expectations are provided equitable opportunities to achieve said goals.
3. You did not provide equal access to special projects.
While the tech industry deems itself a meritocracy, it is too often based on who you know, with key projects and roles being passed around an insular network. If a company is providing equal access to these opportunities, it’s an indicator that equity and the best ideas and execution rule the day.
4. You did not provide exposure to decision makers or empower employees to make decisions.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway musical, Hamilton, taught us that everyone wants to be in the room where it happens. This means companies need to provide exposure to decision makers, empower employees to make decisions with impact, and provide autonomy. A company shows that it values the contributions of employees with inclusion in high visibility work or publicity about company achievements to denote, and not just delegation of the grunt work.
5. Your employee resource/affinity groups (ERGs) are impotent.
When done right, ERGs create safe support spaces, professional growth, advocates for women and minorities. Tracking the participation rate of ERGs, their programming, and any result in uptick in hiring and/or promotion is information showing engagement of a certain population of the company is, as well as their commitment to their jobs. It can also point to internal influence marginalized groups actually wield in their company.
6. You do not have a Supplier Diversity Program.
A supplier diversity program is a proactive business program which encourages the use of minority-owned, women owned, veteran owned, LGBT-owned, and differently abled owned businesses to provide goods and services.
Incorporating a supplier diversity program engages the diverse employee population of a company's workforce by encouraging collaboration between the two groups to provide the best possible products and services for consumers, and acts as a prominent display of a company's commitment to diversity, not just among employee ranks, but holistically.
By Implementing and tracking the metrics I've listed, three things will be revealed:
- Quality of inclusion and opportunity inside of your organization.
- Retention factors will be exposed.
- You will determine if your company's values and culture are one and the same.
Part of the problem with just releasing diversity reports each year, which regurgitate the number of people in seats, is this notion of “bean counting,” and thinking the problem ends there.
The fullness of the experience of diverse employees can’t be derived from knowing just the population percentages within your company. You must put the work in and create an organizational culture and environment that allows all employees access to meaningful work, praise, and reward. Diversity gets people in the door and implementing these six metrics will keep them there.