Diversity Isn’t a Program

Alexandra Levit, Managing Partner, PeopleResults
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(Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Alexandra Levit of Inspiration at Work). 

Lighthouse Research Principal Analyst Ben Eubanks’ session at SilkRoad’s Connections conference hammered home the importance of culturally embedded diversity and inclusion practices. According to Deloitte, employees that rated their employers highly for both diversity and inclusion were 80 percent more likely to say their organization was high performing. Corporate boards with three or more women have 50 percent higher return on equity, and 40 percent higher return on sales.

McKinsey research found that inclusive workforces have 57 percent greater collaboration, 42 percent greater team commitment, 19 percent greater intent to stay, and 12 percent greater discretionary effort. Furthermore, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to perform about average.

When it comes to specific talent practices that generate results, Eubanks said we must first stop thinking of diversity as a program. Diversity training alone doesn’t work, according to the EEOC, because there’s nothing tangible that impacts people emotionally. Rather, diversity and inclusion must be part of the culture and all phases of the employment lifecycle. Here are some examples cited by Eubanks:


Diverse candidates come into organizations because someone has purposefully gone out and found them. Pinterest, for instance, increased engineering hires from underrepresented groups from one to nine percent. Referrals must be targeted and intentional, and we must ensure that when we are hiring for “cultural fit” we are screening for traits like honesty, work ethic, and commitment (which have nothing to do with race, religion, gender, etc.).

High-Level Mentorship

In order to ensure pipeline diversity, mentorship has to be strategic and supported at the highest levels of the organization. For example, at Proctor & Gamble, 10 percent of executive compensation is tied to diversity goals, and every executive must sponsor an employee resource group, serve as a cross-cultural mentor, and raise the number of diverse hires and promotions in their department.

Succession and Compensation

We must nurture communities of practice and set targets for diverse employee promotion. Raise awareness by calling out unconscious bias, and create processes that take bias out of decision making. When it comes to compensation, we should keep negotiation to a minimum and pay people based on competencies. For instance, Lloyds Bank set a goal of adding 1,000 more women to its leadership ranks by 2020 and doubled the number of women in senior roles in a single year.

Diversity and inclusion calls for a unique experience for every employee – based on their role, department, location, etc. To learn more about diversity and inclusion from the context of the employee experience, check out Employee Experience in 2025

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