October 19, 2020
Among 1,000 large businesses, the top quartile in diversity had 36% higher profitability performance than the bottom quartile in 2019, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In other words: Workplace diversity appears to be good for the bottom line.
“There’s a lot of attention being focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts now,” says Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer at U.S. Bank. “It’s no longer a function that can be buried several levels in the organization.”
And yet, recent events have laid bare the complexities of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice uprising following the killing of George Floyd have surfaced disparities of health, wealth, and opportunity in communities of color. Those struggles extend to the workplace, where bias and privilege play a huge role in who gets hired and who gets to lead.
“If you’re at the beginning stages of your journey, the first thing you want to do is probably not come out with anti-racism training,” Cunningham says, adding, with a chuckle, “You can’t train your way out of this. That’s a fundamental mistake that companies make all the time. I don’t even want to go to diversity training, and I’m a chief diversity officer.”
There are other steps companies big and small can take to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (a.k.a., DEI). Here are a few:
Inclusivity should factor into every step of hiring. “For our manager positions, we make sure we have at least one or two diverse candidates on all candidate slates,” Cunningham says. Make your interview panel diverse, too, “so candidates see people who look like themselves.” Diverse interviewers will bring new questions to the table.
Expand your network.
Where does your company find talent? Networking events hosted by a local development group, such as Greater MSP, can put professionals of color in your circle. Employers have plenty of options: the Twin Cities Black Employee Network; Prospanica; the Association of Hispanic Professionals; professional womens’ groups, such as Women in Networking and TeamWomen; and other minority-centered organizations.