(This article was written by Yola Robert and appeared on forbes.com.)
Over the past week the awareness and allyship around the Black Lives Matter movement has caused companies and brands to reevaluate how diverse and inclusive their teams really are.
While social media, podcasts and books have been a great place to start, there is much work to do internally for many. Only four Fortune 500 companies have black CEOs and although black people account for about 13.4 percent of the U.S. population they only occupy 3.2 percent of senior leadership roles in large corporations.
Becoming more diverse in the workplace shouldn’t be a trend—it should be a standard. Not only is it the right thing to do, but there are several added benefits that diverse companies have over their counterparts. Companies that are diverse are able to perform better because they are able to understand different perspectives, tap into different markets and make better decisions that accurately reflect the society we live in. Racially and ethnically diverse companies are proven to perform 35 percent better, 87 percent better at decision making and are 1.4 times increase in revenue. So if you are at the beginning stages of understanding how to become a more diverse company, here are four ways to actually create diversity in the workplace.
Develop Permanent Training Programs & Policies
Racial trauma and mental health therapist Ashley McGirt shared how important it is for leadership to take on the responsibility of developing programs and policies around antiracism.
“If you are already in a position of leadership create policies that promote an antiracist culture, address microaggression and discrimination in the workplace. Create a policy around racism just as there are policies in place to prevent sexual harassment. If you don’t have a plan to be anti-racist then you plan to be racist. If you are an employee and do not have the words to express yourself but have concerns about racial injustices in the workplace or the response your work is having to the racial injustices occurring in the world, you can reach out to HR and request that they bring in a trained professional to teach cultural competency and shed light on things such as racial trauma and microaggressions that occur in the workplace.”
For example, a Fox 32 staffer, Remy Marshall, wrote a five point plan to address race relations which rose to the ranks of the GM at her company and they are now working on making changes within their workplace.
McGirt notes that developing these trainings and policies should be an ongoing effort within the company rather than a one-time experience. In order to see long-term change, these trainings and policies being engrained into the company culture. It is important to also consider that the individuals leading the diversity and inclusion efforts are black and/or non-black people color. This may mean you have to actively hire a new team, promote a current team member or even hire an agency such as Nova to create your training and policies.
Expand Your Network
This may sound self-explanatory but oftentimes companies hire and source from the same schools, jobs fairs, networks, etc. which can lead to the same type of individuals working within the company, hindering efforts for diversity and inclusion. Venture capitalist Abyah Wynn suggests creating internship and hiring programs that tap into universities that are more diverse to help create that funnel of talent that may have been overlooked in the past.
Create A Safe Space
It’s important to create a safe space for your current and future black, non-black people of color and minority employees.
“Be there for your black employees. Each black person is different. Don’t assume all black people are needing the same thing. Everyone is different, so ask each individual what they need. Examine what is it about now that wants you to be there for your black colleagues or employees in a way that you weren’t before,” explained McGirt on how to be there for your black employees during this time.
There have been numerous horror stories coming out of employees sharing how their concerns around racism and diversity in the workplace were either dismissed or caused for them to get bullied or mistreated. Employees should be able to feel safe from getting bullied, mistreated, demoted or even fired for speaking up against injustices in the workplace. You can try to form a committee within your organization where employees can openly discuss or share how they feel with the goal of taking into account how to address and fix issues that arise.
Be Held Accountable
This may be one of the most important steps in creating change in workplace diversity. All over social media brands are being called out which is forcing them to be held accountable for the change that needs to occur within their organization. Consumers and fans are now the ones holding brands accountable for their actions while closely watching their next moves. If you haven’t been forced into accountability as a leader or founder, create the accountability yourself by sharing publicly and internally your plans for the future. Just as you set financial goals, set goals for your diversity and inclusion plans over the next year. As you hit or miss your benchmarks continue to be transparent in sharing your progress.