Learn why it's more important than ever for companies to weave diversity and inclusion into the very fabric of their organizations if they wish to attract new talent.
The image of a White police officer with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, triggered a monumental change in public attitudes toward racial and social injustice. Suddenly there was the feeling that something different was in the air. Real change could come out of such a tragic incident.
But as companies jumped on the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) bandwagon, many people wondered: Will it last?
The business case for D&I is stronger than ever, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Data from the company’s recent report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, indicate that racially and ethnically diverse companies are 36% more likely to outperform their competitors. Gender diverse companies are 25% more likely to have above-average financial returns.
Scrutinizing Social Channels
Given the current climate, job candidates are scrutinizing companies’ stances on D&I and social justice prior to interviews to determine if they might fit in with a company’s culture and values.
During her job search, Rynnel Laughlin, who recently accepted a position as Director of Account Services with Yes&, looked for a company that was open with its employees and had an inclusive work environment. Laughlin has 15 years of experience working in public relations, ranging from non-profit organizations to technology companies. It was important for her to work for a company that was actively doing things versus paying lip service to change.
“Every time I looked at a company, I went through all social channels to see if their message framed around [D&I],” Laughlin said. This included examining messaging on company websites and then digging deeper into the companies’ value systems. “I would look at photos on websites to see, at least at the surface level, is there diversity among staff, images, and clients,” she said.
When she reached the Yes& website, “another thing that caught my eye was the video on the ‘About Us’ page,” Laughlin said. “The way the video is produced, I said, ‘this definitely seems like a mission-driven company,’ with an open and Yes culture,” Laughlin explained.
That one-minute video presented who Yes& is and wants to be in the future, she noted. Consequently, Laughlin, a mother of three young children, felt her voice could be heard and valued in the company.
Laughlin knew about Yes& a year before applying, finding and then following the company on Instagram. “It seemed like a fun place to work,” she said. During her first interview with a senior executive, there seemed to be something about the company’s values of 'positivity and possibility’ that the executive held close to heart. Laughlin thought, “If the leadership is like this, other folks at the company might be like this as well. Maybe as a woman of color, I can be a part of this company.”
Laughlin acknowledged that all organizations—conservative and liberal—are grappling with how to talk about racial and social injustice. Some companies just do not want to ruffle clients’ feathers. But remember, companies are composed of relationships between employees and employers. Hiring diverse talent is the first step. Managers and employees should recognize that the workplace experience is what shapes whether people thrive and remain at a company.
The lessons here are:
Companies should integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in their social strategies over the long term. Companies should seek feedback from employees and work with communicators to ensure that their message is authentic.
Secondly, stating company values on your website and social channels is very important. A clear set of company values helps prospective employees, clients, and partners understand your company’s vision and goals.
More importantly, senior management must support D&I campaigns and show they truly believe in their company values.
Going forward, business leaders must realize that the values of diversity and inclusion, openness, and communication in which every employee’s voice is heard, are not special attributes, but should be a part of the everyday cadence of an organization, Laughlin noted.