My friend, a corporate vice president, was recently interviewing a young woman for a position in her division.
The young woman said to her, “In researching your company, I saw that there are no women on your Board of Directors.” She then asked her, “How do you feel about this?”
Following the interview, my friend shared this question with her CEO, letting them know that her candidate was looking for an answer to why the company lacked diversity at the highest level.
By her one question, this young woman let the company know that diversity is important to her – and put the company on notice that the absence of diversity needs to be addressed.
Our small actions – even simple questions – can have a meaningful impact on how companies address diversity and inclusion in our workplaces.
In the upcoming months, the majority of the global workforce will be Millennials, Gen Z, and women employees. This significant demographic shift will bring increased employee expectations.
They will choose to work for companies with engaged, inclusive, and humble leaders who live and breathe inclusion and equity, with flexible work arrangements, and where they have a voice.
Companies mired in outdated ways of operating will struggle to recruit and retain talented individuals.
Ways You Can Make a Significant Impact on a Company with a Few Simple Questions
As part of my women’s empowerment mission, I want to spark women to more fully value their contributions, advocate for themselves, and embrace their power as a positive feminine attribute in the workplace. I have a few suggestions here on how to meaningfully impact diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization.
In a report from Women Business Collaborative, 7.3% of Fortune 1000 companies in 2021 had women CEOs, and women of color held 1.0% of the CEO positions among that same group of companies. While the number of women CEOs is increasing, progress is slow and remains unreflective of the workforce composition.
Not to mention that in the 2020 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report they estimated that, at the current rate of change in women’s pay and wages, it will take 151 years to close the gender pay gap in North America.
Progress is simply not happening fast enough. We need to take this effort into our own hands. Each of us can influence diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces now, especially as we are in an employees’ market in which companies are struggling to hire and retain talent. We are in the driver’s seat.
As a potential employee, there are questions you can ask during the interview process to determine if it’s a place you want to work – and to let the company know that you expect forward-thinking answers (and actual policies that support them!) to your questions.
– What percentage of your first-line supervisory positions (or manager-level, director-level, vice president-level) are held by women? By women of color?
– What is your company’s policy on equal pay? What steps does your company take to ensure that there is gender equity in pay among employees at the same level?
– What is your company’s system to measure and reward managers for inclusive behaviors such as mentoring and equitable promotion rates, and positively creating an inclusive culture?
– What steps does your company take to remove gender bias from employee performance reviews?
As an employee, there are actions you can take to create a more inclusive environment. Involve internal champions and EEO leaders in these actions as required, and engage them for advice or assistance when you have diversity or inclusion concerns.
– Familiarize yourself with the company’s policy on equal pay. If the company does not have a policy, approach HR to request that the company define its position on equal pay – and implement it.
– Practice inclusion. Seek the input and feedback of all team members. When there is a decision to be made, ask yourself or ask the assembled team, “Who is not represented here? Whose perspective are we missing in the decision(s) we are about to make?”
– Lobby for inclusion as a managerial and employee performance measure. Influence HR (directly, or through EEO/internal champions) to incorporate inclusive behavior into performance evaluations at all levels. Provide a channel for employees to assess their supervisors’ inclusivity.
– Provide honest feedback in employee surveys. Address your concerns about diversity and inclusion.
The balance of power in the workplace is shifting from employer to employee, and at all levels in an organization, we have the ability to influence how the organization approaches diversity and inclusion. You don’t have to be the EEO Officer to make an impact on the workplace environment.
Please remember the true story of the young woman who asked why there were no women on the company board. Her simple question created an immediate impact.
We can all take similar action (small but impactful) to prompt organizations to be more aware of the need for diversity and inclusion – and to take positive action.
In my book, “I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love”, I share tips on how women can gain respect and success in the workplace through practicing self-love.