If you are like many organizational leaders in 2020, you likely kicked off a diversity initiative to improve the workplace experiences and outcomes of women and people of color. Maybe you’ve launched new anti-discrimination policies or implemented recruiting quotas. But after you’ve made these first steps toward an inclusive workplace, how do you know you’ve been successful?

In the final installment of our three-part series, we outline a standardized method for keeping your organization accountable for long-term results. Using an objective framework to evaluate subjective processes that are often riddled with biases will help you achieve and sustain a more inclusive workplace. 

In our new book, The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization, we outline the process to getting lasting organizational results for women that works for including other outgroups as well. To achieve such an environment, you can use our 12-point Equity & Inclusion Scorecard, which allows you to assess broken systems and barriers throughout the development pipeline in your organization. You start by assessing where you are in terms of the diversity – not just at an enterprise level, but department by department, role by role.  You pull back the covers to determine how power is distributed in the company, measure existing results objectively, and unearth the real cultural experiences for employees, customers, and other stakeholders.   Check out the three major dimensions of our Equity & Inclusion Scorecard:

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Overall Landscape 

The first thing you’ll want to evaluate is the overall landscape, which measures how equitably power and influence are distributed in your organization by demographics. For example, many organizations may make a point to promote women in the company in order to fulfill quotas and give off the impression that women hold leadership roles. But the reality is that these women are only concentrated at the administrative level or in pink-color jobs, and don’t hold any real decision-making power. So, we encourage you to actually count and document where you are today. If the emperor has no clothes, it is likely the emperor is the only one who thinks nobody knows.  Everyone else has intuited what it really takes to make it to the top when they see the homogeneity of the inner circle. Counting, therefore, isn’t risky – it’s a smart way to get yourself a quantifiable baseline.  You may be surprised what you find – many of our clients are!

Pay inequity is another organizational element that should be evaluated. There is almost always a structural reason causing any gaps that exist. To get started, organizations can take small samples in representative areas to get objective data, while also taking into consideration that employee perception of whether or not their pay is equal and fair is as important as reality. Again, this may cause you to pause, worried you will open a hornet’s nest.  However, transparency is essential so that all employees understand the pay systems, bonus structures, and performance measures at the organization.  Look, every woman and person of color in your organization has read the national statistics on the pay gap and so unless you disprove it exists in your organization, they tend to assume they are under-paid.  The only way to take it off the table is by measuring it, making the necessary adjustments, and advertising the heck out of your results.

Another important landscape element is bias awareness. There’s usually a perception gap between men, women, and people of color of how “woke” the organization really is and this can lead to misunderstandings at work. Unconscious bias training notwithstanding, there is often a varying degree of recognition that bias actually happens on a daily basis and how insidiously it seeps unseen into every corner of the organization.  For example, a male CEO may believe that all employees are treated the same, but the women in senior levels believe that the company is being run like an old boys club, with men being prioritized for promotion. Both of these perceptions can seem true from their respective perspectives: They need to be reconciled.  It’s important for organizations to take all signs of bias seriously, including problematic jokes, disrespectful comments, and a lack of out-group representation in leadership, because these signposts often signal deep-rooted problems.  And bias training is only the beginning; facilitating ongoing out loud dialog is a must. 

Processes

The second dimension of our Equity & Inclusion Scorecard is to evaluate where bias lurks in processes such as recruiting, retention, performance evaluation, promotion and pipeline development, and mentoring. Investigating these processes helps leaders focus on making small operational adjustments that can have a big and measurable impact. 

Research suggests recruitment is an area with a large potential for bias, so it is important to look closely at the recruiting processes. For example, a common flawed assumption that organizations make is that they believe few women or people of color apply or are interested in their open job positions, but the reality is that there are often unseen barriers in the advertising process. A recent job listing we saw online exemplified this: The job description asked for people to be counted on to work late and join in for social events such as beer tasting, thus giving off the message that the company is run like a frat house, keeping a wider talent pool from applying. 

If leaders continue to hire the same way they always have and promote people just like themselves, the biased cycle will never break. Hiring decisions require a new approach, accountability and a transparent process, including a set criteria for what you’re seeking in job applicants and a consistent, bias-aware interview approach.

Supporting Environment

The final section of our inclusion scorecard is assessing the supporting environment for employees.  This includes understanding how inclusive is the role modeling, culture, and work-life synergy efforts of the organization.  What lifestyle does leadership model?  What non-job related factors does it take to get ahead?  How does the organization show up to its customers?  Think about how one Starbucks location, for example, created a non-inclusive environment for it’s non-white customers and what a massive external impact that had. Do members of “out-groups” feel welcome and psychologically safe at work? Can they envision career progression?  Can they have difficult conversations in a safe and productive way?  Can they raise dissent without retribution?  How do you know? (Hint: You need to ask them!) A positive cultural environment prioritizes factors like collaboration, openness, and integration.

Conducting an assessment using our Inclusion Scorecard can provide the analytical tools and language to equip you to tackle the unseen bias and inequity in your workplace. Then you can use the dashboard to measure these key indicators on a regular basis so that you can see what progress you’ve made towards your inclusion goals.  Fixing inclusivity is an operational problem, and with the proper action plan, your organization will reap the rewards of lasting diversity and bottom-line business benefits. 

For the complete step by step guide on how to build an inclusive and more equitable organization, check out our new book, The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization.  

If you need help assessing your organization and developing your personal scorecard, we can help.  Contact us at [email protected]

The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organizations, is available now for your e-reader or for the hard cover pre-order on Amazon.com and Walmart.com.


Learn the 21st century competencies of managing and leading with our Inclusive Leadership Training. Leaders will be better equipped to help team members realize their potential, think more strategically and better manage difference. Contact Us to learn more.

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