When we ask what business leaders need to do to enable inclusion in diversity, we start with a willing mindset to be more inclusive in our hiring practices. This aspiration is easier expressed than implemented as many established enterprises struggle to drive visibility into their diversity and inclusion efforts. With a constant demand from all levels of society to include people from a range of different racial and cultural backgrounds, to build a framework that delivers to this ask for an enterprise is not a child’s play.
For some time, there has been an unspoken understanding that if an organization is visibly diverse, it has ticked its diversity and inclusion box. However, the outcome of any truly equity-focused activity relies upon an organization’s ability to foster a visibly diverse workforce and develop inclusion and equity through systemic processes and functions.
Today, any business enterprise that cares to realize a truly inclusive workforce; create a safe working environment for women of color to achieve their full potential must consider the five strategies we discuss below, as compiled from our conversations with employers, leaders, and managers. Should you need further insights or discuss how SkillDemand can help you build a truly inclusive workforce, contact us here.
A Business Case Study on Diversity & Inclusion
A recent U.S. Bureau report clarifies how the U.S. is changing demographically, and therefore, it adds up to why American workplaces must change. Business leaders across large, medium, and small enterprises, need diverse leaders to represent the evolving marketplace. Another research finds that when business leaders are attuned to their target audience, they can reflect those values and work effectively with such end-users in mind.
Acknowledge Workplace Bias Exists
Real inclusion is only possible when you have an adequate representation of the communities in your workforce AND create space for those communities to participate in your board meetings. Supervisors who select candidates must be trained to perceive and acknowledge the existence of bias at a workplace. Unless the business leadership accepts a problem, a solution can never be implemented. When people-of-color, particularly women employees, participate in high-level board meetings, they report a heightened engagement and better positioning to advance their career and the ripple effect on their communities.
Building a Culture of Inclusive Leadership
In a culture of inclusive leadership, leaders create a safe environment for all employees to speak up, be heard, and feel welcome. Leaders who believe in inclusive leadership welcome differential opinions from diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and expertise. Such synergy has a noticeable effect on the company’s growth mindset as they have a thick support system from various intelligences regardless of racial and color biases. Allowing black and indigenous women employees to question, facilitate arguments, give feedback, and lead new ideas to help prize authenticity over forced conformity motivates diversity to deliver on record.
Design Sponsorship to Nurture Inclusion at Work
Many major corporations have created sponsorship programs wherein their senior leaders are paired with those to advocate for the multiplier effect. Using this strategy, pairing women and people of color with senior business professionals help reduce the learning curve while imparting strategic leadership knowledge seamlessly and effectively. One may argue that why do we then call it a Sponsor and not a mentor? A mentor’s advice is not enough, but a Sponsor’s guidance coupled with advocacy work is beneficial. It also delivers job satisfaction to the women-of-color as they learn the intricate ropes of the trade.
A Case for Leadership Accountability
We can’t make anything out of superficially talking about Inclusion unless we really get our hands dirty at it, meaningfully. Inclusion got to be at the core of a company’s value system—not on the to-do checklist, you see? So, how can one create a case of leadership accountability? At SkillDemand, we recommend instituting a tracking and reporting system to measure progress against each division’s diversity and inclusion goals. When held accountable with 10% of their bonuses tied to their goals, leaders deliver better than ordinary times.
There is no way for businesses to grow and thrive in the future without elevating the voices of women of color and eliminating the institutional barriers that hold them from realizing their maximum potential. For business leaders to realize this, they must proactively address the various discriminatory practices that hinder real inclusion in diversity efforts and bar women-of-color from unleashing their talent to the business process’s benefit, thus creating more profit, equity, and a better world.