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Diversity in the workplace: What really matters

Research shows diversity is good for business and good for employees. A study run by McKinsey found companies with diverse executive boards generated 53 percent higher ROI (returns on equity).

But diversity isn’t a quick fix or a simple business case for performance.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity, and whether it’s willing to reshape its power structure.”

When individuals see active leaders at the executive level, it signals to underrepresented workers that getting ahead is possible. When diverse leaders are empowered, it means much more.

My supervisor is a person of color and a woman, and she’s on the leadership team. Seeing someone who looks and works hard like me make it to the executive level makes me feel it’s attainable. That’s one of the things that attracted me to my role at Presence. I feel I can be my authentic self and I’m accepted for who I am–– that I’m at a company that cares about my individuality.

Tonya Coleman
Presence HR Generalist

Diversity in the workplace is more than simply including different races and ethnicities. It leans into the individual backgrounds, lifestyles, experiences, and cultural nuances everyone brings to the table. It ideally leads to different perspectives, creative problem-solving, and a more productive workforce.

Recent studies, however, also prove diversity programs can backfire and fail. Organizations can’t be successful without reconciling inherent bias.

Inequality is bad for both business and society. Organizations limit their capacity for innovation and continuous improvement unless all employees are full participants in the enterprise: fully seen, heard, developed, engaged—and rewarded accordingly. (Harvard Business Review)

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Chief People Officer, Shanelle Reese, recommends these Presence tried-and-true ways to foster more diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

  1. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
    Presence offers opportunities to join and create employee-led groups. Some channels are dedicated to people and culture, while others are about life stages, including LatinX, Black, LGBTQIA+, veterans, pet owners and pet lovers, adult and child caregivers, healthy lifestyles, and more. These channels allow team members to discuss ideas and educate others on the topics most important to them and their work.
  2. Company policies
    Ensure company policies are reflective of your people and culture. “Over the years, policies for Presence have evolved as our employee population has grown,” said Reese. For instance, 90 percent of employees are pet owners (80 percent have dogs). “We added Pawrental leave that allows our employees to take time off when they adopt or lose a pet,” added Reese. Paternity and bereavement leave were also updated and new benefits were added, such as new employee equipment stipends, family leave, employee birthday as a holiday, and more. “Our goal is to meet employees where they are and ensure our policies are as inclusive as possible.”
  3. Remove roadblocks from the candidate funnel
    Find ways to eliminate roadblocks for underrepresented groups. “We survey any candidate who comes through our process and has completed an interview,” said Reese. This data helps streamline the hiring process, holds hiring managers accountable, and improves the candidate’s experience. To ensure more inclusive sourcing for new employees,“ jobs are posted on diverse job boards, Presence partners with historically Black colleges (HBCs) and Hispanic Speaking Institutions (HSIs), and diverse candidates are passively sourced,” said Reese. Also, consider removing college degree requirements for almost all entry-level and professional roles where certifications are not required.
  4. Tracking metrics that matter
    Ensure diversity and inclusion are tracked at the highest levels.“We report quarterly on all People metrics as a team. Everything from the amount of time it takes to fill a position to job attrition is included. “We also factor in our interview, onboarding, and engagement survey scores to ensure we aren’t missing common threads and trends,” said Reese. Based on data analysis, potential improvements are identified and excellent areas are solidly enhanced. It shares accountability with Presence hiring managers, people managers, leadership, and across various People team functions.

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