6 Tactics for Promoting Diversity, Inclusion and Integrity
In the previous section, we saw some broad strategic approaches to promote diversity and inclusiveness.
However, sound strategies need effective tactics to bear results. In this section, I’ll share some actionable tactics you can implement to create a culture that values diversity, inclusion and integrity.
1. Institute mentoring programs
When Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology at Harvard University, was asked by McKinsey about “any [diversity] programs that you wanted for the largest companies in America”, this is what he had to say:
“One of the most effective solutions for promoting women and minorities into management is formal mentoring programs. The key is that they connect people who didn’t know each other before, who are from different departments and a couple of levels in the hierarchy apart.”
Formal mentoring programs are particularly effective since in most organizations, people up the chain of command tend to be white men. A mentorship program that connects them with younger colleagues (who tend to be from a wider cultural/social swathe) is, by default, “diverse”.
2. Embrace the “Rooney Rule”
In 2003, the NFL adopted a rule named after Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As per this “Rooney Rule”, all NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operational roles.
The rule has been widely successful - the percentage of African-American coaches in the NFL jumped from 6% to 22% since it was put in place.
3. Observe diverse traditions, celebrations and holidays
“Sharing” is a core tenet of inclusion. An easy way to promote this sentiment of sharing is to celebrate traditions and holidays from different cultures.
If you have Hindus in your team, organize a color run for “Holi” and light up a few lamps for “Diwali”. For your Muslim team members, celebrate Eid. Have some celebrations when the Chinese New Year rolls around.
The idea is to show that you are: a) aware of different cultural traditions, and b) you want everyone to celebrate these traditions together. This will make minority team members feel more at home.
Plus, celebrating different traditions can be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
4. Create Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led social groups that give minorities a place to network and grow. These are becoming increasingly common in larger organizations as catalysts for promoting diversity. 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs.
For example, these are some of Princeton University’s ERGs:
ERGs give minorities a place to foster their cultural heritage. But they have another benefit: they can act as in-house think tanks. Giving minorities a voice also gives them an opportunity to come together and promote diverse thinking.
5. Set up a diversity committee
Remember the Frank Dobbin interview I mentioned earlier?
In the same interview, Prof. Alexandra Kalev of Tel-Aviv University had this to say about her choice of diversity programs:
“Diversity committees. Having a VP for diversity and diversity committees throughout the organization, that report to the CEO every six months—I think this is the mother of all programs.”
A growing number of forward-looking companies are embracing this tactic. Google hired a VP of diversity early in August following the Google Memo debacle. Apple hired its first VP of diversity earlier in May this year. And Twitter hired one in June.
Any forward-thinking agency should definitely consider this option.
6. Match employer-brand with consumer-brand
80% of job seekers research employers before applying for a job.
This begs the question: how do potential employees see you as an employer? Do they see you as yet another agency or a place that will value their talent and diversity?
If you want to attract the best-possible talent, you have to brand yourself as an attractive employer. The care and attention that goes into your client-facing brand should also go into your employer-brand.
Any and all recruitment-focused material you put out - job ads, ‘now hiring’ pages, etc. - should reflect your commitment to innovation, diversity and any other values you espouse in your client-brand.
By positioning yourself as a diversity-friendly employer, you will automatically attract more diverse job applicants.
Diversity, integrity, and inclusion are some of the great HR challenges of our time. They're also some of the biggest opportunities - the successful agencies of the future will invariably be the most diverse ones.
Diversity has a profound impact on innovation and creativity. It also leads to happier workplaces and better financial performance.
How you promote diversity is subjective, but a strategic approach that focuses on making diversity a core part of leadership and ingraining it into your corporate DNA helps.
At the same time, you need to institute a number of tactics to actively promote diversity. Even simple things such as celebrating different holidays, setting up a diversity committee and creating employee resource groups (ERGs) can help.
Here’s what you should take away from this post:
Diversity improves innovation, creativity and financial results.
There are no quick fixes to diversity issues; you need long-term commitment to see results.
Diversity should be a core part of your organization, not yet another isolated department.
Instituting mentorship programs and setting up an office of diversity can have a profound impact on diversity.