You might have heard the myth about the ‘pipeline problem’ blocking efforts at increasing diversity. Here’s the reality about that.
There’s a whole lot of discuss diversity and inclusion (D&I) at work, and with justification. We’re inundated with real-life experiences around hot-button issues like #MeToo, the "Asian penalty" in education, age bias in hiring and others. Available world, corporate executives are getting up to the necessity for change.
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While more companies are involving themselves in creating a far more diverse workforce, workplace inclusion issues persist and progress is slow. Myths and misconceptions connected with diversity and inclusion, meanwhile, are holding companies back from making the changes essential to build more diverse and inclusive teams.
To dive deeper into the known reasons for the slow pace of change, I asked four experts from differing backgrounds and experiences about their response to four common D&I myths.
The fact that too little workplace diversity results from a "pipeline problem" has unfortunately been the traditional thinking during the last decade, says Laura Gee, assistant professor of economics at Tufts University. Gee characterized the pipeline problem if you ask me as “the fact that there aren’t enough women, folks of color or other people from underrepresented groups with the proper experience trying to get jobs.”
She remarked that that’s not the complete story. Actually, a 2014 USA Today report showed that top universities proved black and Latinx computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading tech companies were hiring them.
Evidence points to "the pipeline problem" as a good way to displace the duty for nondiverse and noninclusive workplaces onto an external factor.
"A far more effective method for a company to tackle the problem is to employ differently," Gee said. "Learn what worked for others and have whether it’ll work for your company. The changes don’t need to be huge.”
She pointed to a recently available Management Science article that discovered that simply showing the quantity of current applicants on your own online job posting could raise the number of underrepresented individuals who might apply. “What changes can your company make quickly, and which are more long term?" she said. "Consider where your company is at this time. Then articulate your targets and discover the short- and long-term solutions that’ll get you there."
There’s no such thing as an all-in-one, scalable, lasting solution which can be made to achieve workplace inclusion, according to Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO of Paradigm. Companies should be ready to change the systems, processes and policies they have set up to tackle workplace D&I, she explained.
According to Emerson, systemic, structural barriers to inclusion stem from legacies of exclusion, and exist at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from hiring to growing and retaining employees. Systemic problems ultimately demand systemic solutions. To believe that there could be a straightforward solution to these barriers is appealing, but unfortunately, there is absolutely no magic pill for stereotypes and bias, or the organizational processes where these patterns have always been codified.
To cultivate a diverse and inclusive company, decision-makers must evaluate how people-related decisions are created over the employee experience. “They should revisit assumptions in what talent appears like or where it could exist, and make changes to formal policies, practices and subtle organizational norms that benefit some individuals to the detriment of others,” said Emerson.
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"The method of this problem demands a thoughtful way to use data to recognize where barriers exist, designing solutions grounded in research and measuring impact.”
Another myth found light from my discussions with Candice Morgan, head of inclusion and diversity at Pinterest. The myth revolves around the kinds of companies that require to champion D&I. Those are those? Every one of them.
Morgan’s observation was that even the most well-intentioned interviewing, performance and promotion processes are more subjective in the decision-making process than most realize. Folks are unconsciously programmed with biases that pull them toward the similar or familiar, even though which means full-blown stereotypes. Even companies that spend money on raising awareness about issues like harassment and mistreatment aren’t immune.
“At any business, managers can skip the things that fall beyond process," Morgan said. Those ideas, she said, include offering prestigious assignments again and again to the same star performer and missing anyone who has yet showing their skills. Another problem: assessing promotion potential on "style" vs. abilities.
"Each is reasons we see only incremental changes in the profiles and background of recruits and just modest improvements among underrepresented groups in leadership,” Morgan said. And that, she added, is costly and inefficient. Echoing Emerson’s position, Morgan offered that changing a culture means working persistently on these micro-decisions and espousing the values of equity and inclusion each day.
The ultimate myth, and a rebuttal of it, came thanks to Jolen Anderson, chief diversity officer and chief counsel, employment and corporate social responsibility at Visa. She said that she strives to debunk the myth that the a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s capability to be consciously inclusive was the “have” or “have not” scenario.
“Inclusion is a competence. It could be learned," Anderson described. "You can break it into a couple of teachable behaviors, and you may grasp it as time passes and practice. It’s a mindset and an intentionality that folks should bring with their everyday interaction,
She said she believes that it’s simply human nature to create snap judgments about others, to create sense of the world. Biases will creep in, whether they’re conscious or not.
Anderson was also convinced that leaders who can utilize conscious behavior and actively generate the broadest selection of voices aren’t necessarily born; they’re made. Organizations might help here by giving resources to employees to boost their inclusion skills.
Only once leaders concentrate on creating a team that values differing backgrounds and points of view can the real potential of diversity unfold. For example, Anderson cited Visa’s Diversity & Inclusion College, offered through Visa University, where employees and managers train on from unconscious bias to inclusive leadership.
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Of course, these four myths aren’t the only questionable beliefs permeating the workplace in terms of D&I. The conversation is merely starting out. So, business leaders take notice