When Sonia Thompson got the promotion she’d been dreaming of she was overjoyed—until she saw the paycheck.
But it wasn’t until she spoke to another Black woman who was also underpaid that she realized it was because of who she was.
“Why Black women are underpaid, I'm not sure. But I can tell you the impact is real. It makes you angry. It makes you feel undervalued. It makes you question your abilities,” says Sonia, consultant, speaker, and CEO of Thompson Media Group. “Women on the whole… earn an average of 80 cents on the dollar for the same job as men… But black women earn just 61 cents on the dollar for the same job as men.”
Unfortunately, Sonia’s story is just one drop in an ocean of workplace inequality—but the tide is set to change.
As Black Lives Matter hits the headlines and companies around the country start to take accountability for change, the call for workplace diversity is getting louder. In fact, 78% of talent professionals and hiring managers say that diversity is now the top trend impacting how they hire.
This ultimate ebook will help you understand the full business case for workplace diversity, how to create (and enhance) a diverse company culture and—most importantly—how to keep your diversity and inclusion plans actionable, practical and human.
“An inclusive workplace is when openness prevails, and people are empowered to be their authentic (and unique!) selves all the time.” —Ethan Salathiel, Bound Coaching & Behavioural Change
Technically, diversity in the workplace is when a company’s workforce includes a variety of people from different backgrounds. That can include people of different genders, races, religions, ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, languages and abilities, and more.
But a diverse workplace is about more than just inviting people from different backgrounds to the table—it’s about generating a culture of belonging.
As Gregory Lewis, Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn puts it: “Diversity is like being invited to a party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching.”💃🏽💃
But as a people professional charged with walking the line between hard business results and “soft” human-first hiring initiatives, how can you make sure everyone’s invited to bring their own unique rhythm to the workplace?
First, you need to know your numbers.
From “not enough diverse applicants” to “hiring for culture fit”, nearly any objection to hiring diverse candidates can be nipped in the bud once you know your numbers.
Here’s just a handful of the top stats revealing why diversity in the workplace just make sense:
The math is simple:
An increasingly diverse workforce + the positive impacts of diversity = A business no-brainer.
But let’s be clear. Workplace diversity isn’t just about the astounding productivity benefits it can deliver for your business. It’s also the right thing to do from a purely common sense perspective.
Let’s take a closer look at the top benefits of diversity at work.
As mentioned, the business case for workplace diversity is about more than just numbers—it’s about building a human-first company that works for everyone.
In other words, employers need to be clear about why they care beyond business.
Katie Augsburger, HR pro and advocate for a more compassionate workplace, explained how to figure out your ‘why’ in an interview with the 2050 Trailblazers podcast. For her, there are two simple (yet crucial) steps:
Key takeaway: To create a solid business-wide focus on workplace diversity, be clear about why you care and what you hope to achieve. ✨
Even if you’ve never directly focused on workplace diversity, chances are some of your processes will already be inclusive.
Take a look at each business area and ask yourself:
Whatever you do, don’t assume. For a truly inclusive process, it’s important to get your employees involved in answering these questions.
Gianluca Binelli, Managing Director at Booster Box Digital says, “Keep an open mind and keep learning by asking feedback. Asking anonymous feedback empowers people to share more on what they would like to see changing in the workplace… Keeping our workplace inclusive isn’t just a checklist enforced via committee, it’s a continuous journey to learn and improve.”
Key takeaway: Work with your employees to truly understand areas for D&I improvement. 🔎
Great workplace diversity starts with a great hiring process.
From sourcing to onboarding, each recruitment stage needs to reflect the diversity you want for your company. The candidate experience should be the same for every person, no matter what their background is.
Here are a few pointers to get you started on building a totally inclusive recruitment process (for a total hiring overhaul, check out our free inclusive recruitment mini-course):
Key takeaway: Improve your hiring processes to boost diversity throughout your biz. 💯
Empathy is at the heart of a diverse workplace.
But although 96% of employees believe it’s important for employers to be empathetic, a whopping 92% think the trait is undervalued.
“Exercise empathy—you may not know exactly what your colleagues are going through, but you may be able to identify with the emotions they are feeling. Let that be a starting point for your journey of empathy and dialogue with your fellow human beings regardless of background, differences or similarities.”
Does your company need an empathy boost? Here are a couple of pointers to get you started:
Key takeaway: Build an empathetic workforce through training and support. 🤝🏼
Workplace diversity is all about human connection and respect—and communication plays a key role in achieving that.
Andy Crebar, CEO at SaplingHR agrees.
“Tackling issues of inclusion often means having courageous and potentially uncomfortable conversations,” he says. “It’s critical to create a safe space (an Inclusion Council, a non-recorded open-mic storytelling session, etc.) to encourage dialogue, offer supportive resources, and work through the discomfort towards long term unity.”
“[Businesses can] build on great trainings—such as ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘active bystander’ awareness—by role playing in as many conversations as possible and refreshing it in team meetings on a regular basis,” he explains. “[You can also include] a 10-min dedicated slot at the end of every weekly/monthly team meeting for an inclusion pulse, to check the cultural state of play and run some useful activities to keep engagement up. The everyday conversations should evolve, and leaders set the tone from the top.”
Key takeaway: Build conversation into the everyday by creating safe spaces for employees to speak and be heard. Encourage conversational roleplay between colleagues. 🗣️
Boosting workplace diversity benefits everyone.
But for workers like Sonia—who feel the impact of inequality everyday—workplace diversity is more than a ‘nice-to-have’: it’s a necessity.
And it’s up to employers to make it happen. From implementing training to focusing on diverse hiring, there are countless steps you can take to immediately start doing better.
As Sonia puts it, “This was my story. But it doesn't have to be for others. Encourage and teach others... Create safe spaces for open conversations... And let us not accept no for an answer when we see someone being treated unfairly.”