diversity initatives

12 ways to make diversity initiatives work

The main reason that diversity initiatives fail is lack of genuine buy-in at a senior level. There is overwhelmingly compelling evidence that diverse teams have a significant bottom line impact. Research from McKinsey indicates that gender parity and increased diversity would boost global GDP by $28 TRILLION.  So it’s something of a mystery why organisations only pay lip service to making their diversity initiatives effective.

But change takes hard work and commitment and its a cosy boys’ club at the top.

12 key steps so diversity initiatives can work

  1. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. Assign the gender balance project to a senior position with clout, rather than dumping it on a junior, overloaded employee, with no teeth. Preferably not a middle-aged, middle class, white guy. Link the person’s bonus to set KPIs. If the person could be given a seat on the Board that would be even better; although perhaps not popular.
  2. Give all HR personnel plus senior managers unconscious bias training.  I would be delighted to run my programme in your company.
  3. Give senior management diversity targets together with a financial incentive to meet them.
  4. Be aware of the “subtly male” culture in your organization, whether it’s in the décor, your corporate PR, advertising programmes, hospitality functions at male sporting events, or pictures of your all male board and senior management on the walls. If you struggle with this bring in an external professional to carry out a neutral and constructive evaluation.
  5. Optimize your job descriptions to minimize the risk of women de-selecting themselves for any promotions or new jobs.
  6. Run your ads through apps which highlight gender biased language. Kat Matfield’s app is great. Eliminate macho words like ” H.R. hero” and “ninja” from your organizational lexicon.
  7. Commit to gender balanced short lists for C suite minus 4. 3Plus runs services in that area.
  8. Strengthen your talent pipeline by “fishing where there are fish” at junior levels. Stop whining about there being no women and being lazy about candidate identification, going always for low hanging fruit, and hiring via the 3M criteria: Mini-Male-Mes
  9. Create mentoring programmes for women. If there are no senior women in your organization find external women. Women cannot be what they can’t see and hear.
  10. Implement the much talked “human” approach to HR and walk the talk, with regard to family care support for both men and women. Create a culture where men and women can participate without the threat of career penalties being imposed. Encourage your male employees to take parenting leave. Essentially it’s about making your culture respectful and inclusive.
  11. Create a results driven culture and debunk the latest barrier to entry for women – 24/7 availability. It’s the digital age equivalent to a ball and chain, an outward symbol of corporate bondage.
  12. Implement management development programmes for women and any other demographic worthy of attention.

What would you add?

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One thought on “12 ways to make diversity initiatives work

  1. Asianwomanleadership

    Landing an executive leadership role at a major company often requires making connections with the right people. Graduate students seeking high-ranking corporate jobs are encouraged to build a network of diverse and influential contacts, and avoid cliques.


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