When we talk about “breaking the bias” in the workplace, the onus often falls on the chief diversity officer or HR team. While these departments do bear some of the responsibility, we all have a role to play in transforming the future of work.
It’s up to leaders to empower their teams to take ownership of making the workplace more inclusive and ensure that the work doesn’t solely fall on one person. We gathered leaders across various industries for our #IWD2022 Virtual Equality Lounge® to discuss how we all can make the workplace safer and more equitable. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Take an honest look at the data.
When we look at numbers on diversity and representation in the workplace, we have to take them at face value. The data is the data. Progress won’t happen unless we look at the data honestly and objectively.
“We have to make sure we look at the intersectionality of the data,” said Lizanne Vaughan, SVP and Chief People Officer at Getty Images. “Many organizations choose not to disclose information about race and ethnicity, but it makes it hard to move the needle when we don’t have that intersectional data.”
When companies disclose data, it builds trust with teams and consumers. It also drives solutions and if there is a lack of diversity along the workplace pipeline, it helps leaders implement solutions like mentorship and sponsorship programs.
2. Add “career advancement” to your DE&I measurement strategy.
While 90% of organizations track representation of women in their assessments of workplace equity, only 65% of organizations track advancement. Leaders need to ask: How are we bringing diverse women in? How are we supporting them throughout the middle stages of their career? How are we advancing them into senior leadership?
“When you look at who is in your candidate pool, ask yourself if you have enough diversity,” said Judith Hammerman, Head of Platform Expansion at Adobe. “As diverse talent advances to management and the board, continue to give them support and recognition.”
3. Create a safe space for conversations on microaggressions and bias.
We all have biases and perceptions that influence microaggressions in the workplace, as well as how we value and underestimate people and how we navigate conversations courageously.
“Let’s encourage 1:1 courageous conversations where people feel safe to talk about things and to speak up and advocate for themselves and others,” said Esther Aguilera, President & CEO, Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA).
Marcella Milliet Sciorra, CMO of Deepintent, agrees about the importance of creating safe spaces. She said, “What we can do as leaders is make it a safe space for people to bring their concerns. Leaders should create that safe space for their teams or provide an anonymous way to give feedback.”
4. Hold leaders accountable.
In order to create an equitable workplace, it is important to lead by example. Leaders should ask themselves: Am I equally holding myself and other leaders accountable for not only what they are doing but how they are showing up and treating people?
“It starts with accountability, and it starts at the top,” Vaughan added.
5. Weave diversity and inclusion into the company culture by starting with the individual.
Talk with your manager and your peers about #breakingthebias, and call out microaggressions and bias in the moment. Accountability starts with every individual.
“It’s really important to not let things lie and to leave no rock unturned,” said Kirsty Stevenson, Global Head at HP. “We are all responsible for driving the change we want to see to create more equity and equality for women.