What are your resolutions for 2020? For over 400 HR leaders in a Gartner survey, change management is crucial. Organizations need to prepare for a future that’s coming fast — and that means sourcing talent more effectively and taking better care of workers. To truly address these challenges, you need to address diversity and inclusion.
Why? Millennials will compose 75% of the workforce in five years and are already moving into critical leadership and succession roles. With 44% classifying themselves as “non-Caucasian,” this generation is 16% more diverse than baby boomers. Generation Z is even more so: In addition to bringing diverse attitudes, nearly half (48%) describe themselves as “nonwhite.”
To keep your 2020 resolutions, diversity and inclusion must be built into your organization at every level. Here are five ways you can be a leader:
1. Keep up with 2020’s new laws
There are new laws on the books for several U.S. states in 2020. Many of these address workplace fairness issues, so make sure your organization is up to speed. For instance, New Jersey’s Assembly Bill 1094 prohibits employers from asking applicants about salary history. This promotes pay equity by preventing organizations from screening out candidates or making offers based on past earnings.
According to Nevada Assembly Bill 132, employers can be barred for refusing to hire prospects who test positive for marijuana (except in certain lines of work, such as firefighters and drivers). California Senate Bill 142 directs workplaces to provide private lactation areas for working mothers, while Oregon’s House Bill 2341 says companies must offer accommodations for employees with pregnancy- or childbirth-related conditions. And Washington state now allows for up to 18 weeks of paid family and medical leave, with Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. expected to pass similar legislation.
Consider using AI to break away from bias
Gender bias is still a problem in hiring. One study even showed that when men and women submitted blind applications, a woman’s likelihood of getting the job increased by as much as 46%.
Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t blind; it depends on its programming and data inputs. But it could help us address some of the problems that come from an overreliance on “gut instinct,” which too often reflects our bias toward the familiar (which, in itself, is a reason to diversify your hiring teams). An AI-informed hiring process, when done right, could bypass applicant data on race and sexual orientation to correct inequalities and promote inclusion.
3. Reassess your onboarding programs
According to one study, a whopping 80% of women will leave a company where gender bias is an issue, and they may detect it earlier than you think. The onboarding experience is often the first on-the-ground encounter with an employer’s workplace culture, whether remote, virtual or on-site — and it carries a long list of potential red flags.
For example, a clunky, time-consuming process that requires after-hours work may be a red flag for working parents. Making new hires fill out repetitive forms can indicate that the employer offers a poor work-life balance or doesn’t respect employees’ time. Even the language and tone of the process may trigger employee remorse: For example, when recognizing new hires for hitting milestones, don’t use gendered or culturally specific analogies, such as, “Great quarterbacking!”
4. Check your mentors
This one may be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s vital. Many organizations have well-established mentors who give back by coaching and guiding new hires. The risk comes when they’re so entrenched in the company that they operate from unintended bias. There’s nothing wrong with a boomer leveraging decades of experience — but there is something wrong with not honoring new perspectives.
Given how important mentoring is to some careers, make sure you provide mentors who have inclusive points of view. In a truly diverse organization, mentees bring different sets of life experiences, values, beliefs and mind-sets, and mentors need to be able to accept them.
5. Scrutinize your practices at every level
Diversity and inclusion aren’t isolated components of the workplace — it’s part and parcel of your whole company culture. Leadership must take a hard look at your organization and assess its ability to support an inclusive workforce on every level: from hiring to onboarding to benefits and career development.
Commit to transparency about diversity and inclusion initiatives on your career pages and job boards. Continually examine internal practices, such as your pay policies, using predictive analytics to gauge the impact of taking (or not taking) certain steps.
Finally, ask the hard questions: Do you make allowances in terms of flexibility or remote work for parents? Do your benefits truly meet all your employees’ needs, regardless of gender? Is your workplace accessible for those with disabilities?
There are more and more ways to accommodate a truly diverse workforce. And in 2020, there are even more reasons to do so.
Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized analyst, author, speaker and brand strategist. The founder of TalentCulture, she hosts #WorkTrends, a popular weekly Twitter Chat and podcast. Her career spans across recruiting, talent management, digital media and brand strategy for hundreds of companies, from startups to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google. She also serves on advisory boards for leading HR technology brands. Meghan can be regularly found on Forbes, SHRM, and a variety of other outlets. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.
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