Why is Diversity & Inclusion so hard for companies to nail? The good news is, there’s been a lot of progress in the past decade alone. Social media has pushed the outcries up front for leaders to start paying attention. Trends in the past years have gone from from “Diversity what’s that” to “Let’s celebrate” to “Let’s empower.” And now, beyond aspiration and PR stunts, the world is ready. For. Action.
The truth is, most companies are led by a certain demographic up top, who either haven’t experienced what traditionally marginalized professionals are feeling, nor are connected to the people who have that experience.
We’re here to help. There are eons of smart, well-informed discussions happening on Fishbowl with people from all racial, generational and socio-economic backgrounds, sharing their actionable perspectives.
Ready to take action? Here you go.
The question.“What can companies do to make racial diversity in management and corporate leadership positions a priority?”
1. Promote a work culture where authenticity and different perspectives are valued and welcomed.
“Allow people to be their full authentic selves at work. I have spoken to countless minorities and women myself included that feel they have to conform or be someone else at work. Also recruit at different places. If we continue to recruit the same places we will garner the same results. Foster a culture that allows people to be their whole selves. Haven’t seen this at PwC or BCG and I have worked at both. Companies are hiring these “chief diversity officers” and leadership is less diverse now than before.”
– Senior Consultant 2
“Myth: D&I means hiring/promoting someone based on an “arbitrary trait”. Diverse candidates are most times qualified for the job/promotions but may be overlooked because of not having the connections/opportunities as non-diverse candidates. Companies can do more by valuing different perspectives and giving everyone an equal opportunity and not just individuals who they may be comfortable with.”
“First time I can recall seeing a diversity post tied to what is not PC but entirely accurate – race. Remove “woke” diversity and inclusion programs, unnecessary executive roles and pointless race quotas and focus on employing recruiting and development processes that are fair and equitable.
– Senior Consultant 3
“You have to do more than hire. Diversity isn’t the answer. Inclusion and belonging are. If teachers of color don’t feel welcome and included then it doesn’t matter how diverse your staff is.”
– New York City High School Teacher
“Be more welcoming once a POC joins. POC struggle to understand the social norms of the “office culture.” Sometimes this lack of understanding stems from the fact that we come from a background that has never been in a professional setting outside of school. Prioritize making POC feel welcome, not just by saying it but by acting upon it.”
– Associate Attorney 1
“Sponsor in-house mentorship programs; they don’t have to be specifically racial diversity targeted necessarily.”
– Associate 3
2. Absolute transparency in the workplace.
“Disclose all salaries or at least not have rules forbidding us to disclose our salaries. Hiding salaries and raises only helps the employer and helps them pay women less.
I personally talk about my comp with everyone as I’m not ashamed and would like people working at similar level to get similar compensation”
– Senior Consultant 7
“Mandate a certain amount of time per week or month where senior leadership has to actually interact with those at the lowest levels and have them experience a wide range of candidates and employees.
You just have a lot of top executives speaking platitudes about diversity because it’s in their self interest and/or they don’t want to punished/fired so they have. It’s just empty words – putting executives back in the trenches would foster better camaraderie and culture. And that’s not even about diversity – that’s just about having leaders connected to their employees.
Just think about generals in an army who win the respect of their troops fighting alongside them vs the guy who’s just at HQ that you never meet that’s just relaxing or doing stuff that’s too important for the likes of everyone else.”
– Managing Director 2
3. Solve the pipeline problem by tackling the root of the cause: implicit biases
“Expand the initial pipeline by ensuring equal access for all applicants, and support everyone while they are here. Don’t tokenize us or give me a job because of my skin color.”
– Boston Consulting Group 1
“Implicit biases cause a pipeline problem. Entry levels are diverse but implicit biases occur in the hiring process for managerial positions.
The “pipeline problem” as focused on entry level employees is a cop out. It was an issue 20-30 years ago, but not today, when 25%+ of Harvard admits are black or Hispanic (not to mention the Asian %!). As seen elsewhere in this thread, and real life, entry levels are plenty diverse. I think this is because entry levels focus on discrete skills with less room for bias (Was the spreadsheet correct? Were the slides created on time?), and minorities do well here. However, managerial and above levels are noticeably less diverse because judgement criteria are open to interpretation (Was Maria too bossy when managing that engagement? Is Tyrone the kind of guy we want to be the face of our firm to clients? Does the MD like Zhang enough to recommend her for promo? Sanjay is great at IT, but can he handle people?), the criteria are not applied evenly, and this leaves room for bias in ways that are not easy to identify and counteract, regardless of how well the person actually performed.
Until the bias problem is figured out, diversity metrics with corresponding accountability (bonuses, review impacts, even dismissal) is probably the best bet. I see no solution to the bias problem beyond turnover amongst the people who think diversity/bias issues are BS. Implicit bias training session will turn a few people in the middle, and it shows diverse groups that the company cares enough to invest, but it is mostly preaching to the choir.”
– Manager 1
“Community outreach. You have to start early and often. Instill kids with the idea that they can rise to positions of leadership in their schools and communities. Recruit young adults in university letting them know how they can forge a path to the top. Do it organically and everything will happen according to hierarchies of competence rather than artificial cherry picking. It is harder work, but it empowers non-company stakeholders which leads, eventually, to diverse leadership.”
– Ashland Partners & Company LLP 1
“We must look at the universities from which we recruit. Are those universities as diverse as we want our associates to be? Or are they just reflective of the current make-up? Rather than narrow the universities, we need to expand them to include more diverse student bodies.”
– Managing Director 1
4. Solve the pipeline by taking a top down approach or adapting recruiting practices.
“Spend more money on top tier talent and fix the obsession on hiring for “cultural” fit. If people feel welcome to apply, it shouldn’t be that hard to get diversity.”
– Product Manager 1
“As a POC Partner, I think an emphasis has to be on entry level recruiting. The people we bring in at a junior level are our future. If we don’t do a good enough job at that part of the funnel, we’ll never get the results we’re looking for on the other side. Secondly, I think we have to step up accountability here. Executives should be held accountable if their company under-performs on this.”
– Partner 1
“That part. Stop having all the panels and diversity symposiums and start doing better with hiring at the top, not just from the associates.”
– Attorney 2
“One of the issues with hiring and promotion is that it’s unfortunately not actually based on merit. There are a lot of unconscious biases that come into play when partners decide who to mentor, put in front of big clients, staff to deals, provide feedback, etc. Therefore, partners and people in power actually do reward based on outward qualities (namely, white, straight, male) but when you’re giving only that group of people the opportunities to learn and succeed, then of course they’re doing better objectively.”
– Associate 5
“I think solutions start with recruiting. We’ve got to do a better job as an industry building more diverse and representative pipelines. From there, we’ve got to stop obsessing over culture fits when it comes to lateral hiring.”
– Senior Associate 1
“Definitely get rid of internships. Jobs for kids rich enough to live in the city without a salary not only stifles diversity; but can bring you spoiled over-confident candidates who aren’t hungry enough to absorb the most from the experience.”
– Creative Director
- Remove “requires a degree” from job applications. It’s advertising, not law, medicine or rocket science. And by the way, Elon Musk’s Space X doesn’t require a degree.
- Stop internships. Replace them with paid, entry-level roles.
- Put your recruiters through diversity and anti-bias training.
- Hire diverse recruiters. This means 50% female, 50% male. A range of ages. A range of ethnicities and races.
- Eliminate “culture fit” from your hiring language. That phrase is loaded. It literally means the opposite of “diversity.” Diversity means a variety of people who do NOT all fit into a unified sameness. “Culture fit” is a backdoor where subconscious bias creeps in.
– Freelance (former Droga5)
“My solution is to have names and addresses removed from resumes. Most bias occurs there.
I had my HR people do that at one agency. I invited people in, based solely on merit. We ended up hiring more women than men and more POC than not. And they got hired purely upon their merits. It’s true that people who “look the part” can be erroneously hired. Sociopaths hire psychopaths all the time. In a world of privileged mediocrities like advertising, they’re everywhere.
But exchanging a positive racial preference for a negative isn’t solving any problems. It’s creating another one.”
– Managing Director 1