How to introduce an effective diversity and inclusion strategy, according to Monzo’s former diversity chief
There has been a surge in initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Since 2015, the number of executives with D&I job titles increased 113%, according to ZoomInfo, reflecting how diversity has become a pressing priority for businesses.
Sheree Atcheson, the new diversity, equity, and inclusion director at employee engagement platform Peakon, has a wealth of experience in the field, having previously lead diversity and inclusion initiatives at Deloitte and UK neobank Monzo.
She says that there is growing momentum behind diversity efforts, which has only been accelerated by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Citing an employee expectations report by Peakon that covers 160 countries, Atcheson says there was a 19% increase in employee comments relating to diversity and inclusion in 2019. She expects the number to surge in this year’s report. “In the last few months there has been a serious uptick in organizations hiring for these [D&I] roles.”
But, there is still more that needs to be done. Reporting by Business Insider has found that most initiatives have failed to bring about the necessary change.
Atcheson shares her top tips for promoting diversity and inclusion:
1. Have a dedicated diversity and inclusion strategy
“Companies are becoming more and more aware of how important it is to have a dedicated strategy for this work,” says Atcheson. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a skill set and it is role that needs to be given the credibility and the respect that it deserves.”
The strategy needs to be applied to all aspects of the business for it to be effective. Introducing the necessary checks and balances at every stage ensures you don’t develop a product that affects vulnerable groups differently and only realize when you’re about to roll it out, says Atcheson.
She adds. “It ultimately affects and shapes every single part of your business, and there isn’t a part of the business that it doesn’t touch if it’s done well.”
2. Your team needs to reflect your customers
“It’s incredibly important that your teams reflect the people that you’re ultimately creating the product for, and that is usually society,” says Atcheson. “Whenever we have people that bring those different perspectives into the room … we get the challenging, disruptive natures that we need to create technology that does genuinely serve everybody.”
And, having a diverse team is not enough. You also need to consider leadership and who is making the key decisions.
“Decision-making responsibility is a privilege,” says Atcheson. “One of the biggest privileges you can have is to be listened to and if there is no diversity in the group of people that are making the decisions, then how are we ensuring that the decisions are being made from an unbiased perspective.”
3. Think about D&I in your hiring process
The assumption is often that senior employees are part of the hiring process, but that group can often been very homogenous and not reflect certain key demographics, says Atcheson.
“There must be mandatory interviewer training that focuses on good interview practices etc., but also inclusive interviewing practices around every single stage of the process,” she says. “Don’t assume people are not biased just because they are nice.”
She adds: “If you’re working with recruiters that don’t prioritize diverse shortlists for senior roles, then all these other things don’t matter because people aren’t actually ever getting sight of this job description.”
It’s also important to consider reasonable adjustments to the interview process, says Atcheson, especially now that a majority of hiring has shifted online. A 2019 survey of 71,000 students by research firm Trendence found that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to drop out of the interview process after video interviews.
4. Use data to drive your strategy
“Focus on being data-driven because you cannot argue with data,” says Atcheson.
The first step is to make sure you collect the relevant data, on areas such as ethnicity and neuro-diversity as well as gender. Granular data is important so that your D&I strategy is intersectional, adds Atcheson.
“For example, with women of colour, what is the percentage of those women and how are they represented in the company. What does that statistic look like across promotion,” she says. “It will unearth the fact that even if you have increased, for example, your overall gender representation, actually when you look at women of colour it hasn’t moved at all, so your focus has benefited white women only.”
5. Listen to your employees
“[There is a] need for a culture of listening embedded in your organization and the need for people in that organization to have a regular two-way communication stream with leadership,” says Atcheson.
The only way you can begin to solve issues of diversity and inclusion is if you know they exist, she adds, saying her work at Monzo and other businesses involved introducing listening sessions across different Black communities.
“That’s an important point because the Black communities are not a monolith. There are lots of different Black communities and they have to be appropriately listened to and understood,” she says.
This content was originally published here.