7 Reasons Why Now is the Right Time to Take on Diversity Challenges
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Organizations are facing a number of unique challenges, from pandemic-driven business disruptions to financial market unrest. It’s easy to hunker down and focus on just getting through the next day, week, or month.
A disruption as big as this can also serve as an opportunity to look at the big picture and examine the type of company you want to be and what’s truly important as we move forward out of this chaos.
Diversity is a cause not only worth addressing in the scheme of big issues, but it’s also one to prioritize today. Due to the unique nature and scope of diversity challenges, using the unrest driven by racial injustice, the pandemic, and the economy can mean unique advantages for your people and your organization.
1. Diversity is a long-term challenge
Companies have known for a long time that diversity matters, but progress can be slow. There’s no time like the present to get started. Recent reporting on the struggles of companies in Silicon Valley to meet diversity targets shows how slow it can be. Facebook, for example, has gone from a workforce that’s 3% Black to 3.8% in the past six years. Overnight success simply isn’t possible, so organizations must be in it for the long haul.
2. Leadership matters
What your company looks like can make a big difference as well. In looking at C-level executives, research shows that 68% of them are white men, 18% are white women, 10% are men of color, and just 4% are women of color. Executive representation is one of the clearest indicators, especially to external candidates, of whether they want to work with you.
3. Compensation issues cut across multiple groups
Whether controlling pay for people with the same job and qualifications or not, the pay gap isn’t just about inequality but also a liability, with several high-profile cases winding their way through the courts. Research shows that uncontrolled pay gaps have Black, Native American, and Latinx women earning 25% less than white men. Gaps persist, even when controlled for nearly every possible factor.
4. Discrimination is still widespread
Over 3 in 5 workers in the United States have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace based on age, race, gender, or LGBTQ identity. Like pay, this can be a liability, but it also affects the employee experience in incredibly negative ways. Identifying and eliminating discrimination is a basic step but one that can be approached now.
5. Employees (and job candidates) want companies that invest in diversity
Not focusing on diversity can limit your candidate pool and create dissatisfaction among employees. In times where turning over valuable staff can mean a step back in performance, it’s important to show commitment to this now. Although 64% of candidates say that diversity and inclusion is an important factor in their decision to accept a job, only 55% agree that their organization has policies that promote it.
6. Diverse companies perform better
As the pandemic has put financial performance in focus, diversity can also help an organization perform better. Companies in the top quartile of diversity in leadership positions are 36% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Companies with diverse teams also outpace the competition when it comes to innovation. Both of these are important factors as organizations look to navigate their way out of the recession.
7. Companies are looking to technology to help
The diversity and inclusion software industry is already $100 million dollars and growing quickly according to RedThread and Mercer research. At the very least, technology should help you navigate the challenges you’ll face in diversity — or at least not dig yourself into a deeper hole than you’re already in. Evaluating and thinking about technology solutions through this filter can help with long-term planning.
There’s no time better than now to take on the important challenges in business and the world. Diversity is one of those issues that can feel too big to tackle. But starting today can mean big impacts, whether it’s the small steps you take tomorrow or the changes that propel your business forward beyond what can be seen today.