Yolanda Beattie, Head of Diversity & Inclusion
I’ve had the privilege of talking to hundreds of employers about their efforts to attract and keep more diverse talent pools. From fabulous sponsorship programs, to great efforts to promote workplace flexibility and awesome interventions aimed at tackling pay equity. There’s some really great stuff happening out there.
But I’m often surprised to find that many organisations are still struggling to pinpoint precisely why certain talent segments don’t thrive at the same rate as others. And as a result, many haven’t crystallised their organisation-specific business case. That means leaders aren’t positioned to persevere and make the personal commitment to drive change. And instead, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) continues to be seen as an HR problem to fix. Targets with accountability linked to short term incentives remain relatively uncommon.
Ultimately a D&I strategy needs to uncover, confront and alter the way every individual thinks and behaves in an organisation. That sounds like a massive task but like any meal, you can chew through it one mouthful at a time. Here are my top tips for devouring diversity:
Mouthful 1: Map your internal labour market and model your future workforce
Leadership’s choices and investments produce exceptional, nominal or negative effects on talent. An internal labour market analysis maps who’s appointed and promoted in your organisation, and who leaves. Gender is usually the easiest segment to model but age can also be tracked if the data is available. Running this analysis for each business unit means you can powerfully detect precisely where your chokepoints are before zeroing in on why each segment is struggling to progress at the same rate.
Projecting how appointment and promotion rates will impact future composition is the next tasty morsel, and is essential to setting targets that leaders can buy into and for which they can be accountable.
Mouthful 2: Interrogate your pay data
There are three types of pay gaps that tell different but important stories:
- Like for like – pay differentials between women and men in same or comparable value roles with tenure, location and performance factored in. This is the most important gap to address as it is caused by bias and for some organisations the hardest to calculate if you don’t have sufficient numbers in same roles.
- By-level – women and men at the same management level. This will reveal how different roles performed by women and men attract different salaries, sometimes not entirely justified and can also be due to bias. This may indicate the need for more rigorous job evaluations or the need to support and encourage women or other under-represented segments to access higher earning roles.
- Company-wide – the average salary of men v women across the whole organisation. This generally reflects the fact that men dominate the highest paying roles in most companies and women do the lowest paying work. For companies committed to gender equality, it can be a powerful number to track and target.
Digging deep on pay equity can reveal incredible insights into how we value people, roles and behaviour.
Mouthful 3: Ask the right questions, words bring colour to the numbers
Getting the frank feedback from your people adds to the numerical findings. Knowing how bias may be creating an uneven playing field is a good start so you know what to look for. Some areas to investigate include:
- Who gets noticed, developed and promoted? Is it the loudest and most confident? Is there an ‘in crowd’? Is that necessarily merit-based? What about global assignments?
- Are parents and carers supported during critical times?
- How are we defining the ideal candidate? Do we really need more of the same?
- Are we mapping a clear career path for our people? And are they supported and guided to achieve?
- How are managers supported to be great managers? How do we performance manage the ones that never will be?
- Can you be a part-time manager here?
Mouthful 4: Be transparent about what you find
This is probably the hardest mouthful to swallow. Sharing your D&I DNA to all of your people – warts and all – is critical to build the trust and understanding for the long term interventions needed to level the playing field. Ensuring line managers can powerfully articulate the case for change must be a priority. This enabling context then lays the foundations upon which to build programs such as sponsorship programs, flexible working strategies or inclusive leadership training. But this is the challenging leadership moment – owning how bias and sometimes discrimination has distorted decision-making. Done authentically it’s a game changer.
Where is your organisation at with D&I? Mercer Learning has designed a workshop to help HR practitioner’s master the art of diagnosing their D&I DNA. We also recently introduced our Diversity Connect Network, a business focused group aimed at helping business practitioners tackle D&I problems collectively.
For more information or to discuss any of the above, please contact us using the below form.