She wrote: “Don’t empower me, pay me.”
When I read that statement, I realized how badly we’ve failed the women and minorities in our workforce. They are asking for things that many of us have taken for granted: the opportunity to prove themselves; credit and recognition for a job well done; fair and equal pay.
Reflecting on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, I can include an even more basic request: a safe and respectful workplace.
The first step toward solving these issues on the macro level is to address them on a micro level, from within. Here are some examples of what we can do as individuals to help foster diversity in the workplace.
Understand, recognize and reduce implicit bias. We instituted blind CV sourcing, which omits the applicant’s’ name and other personal information that may subconsciously influence decision-making from his or her resume during the initial screening process. We also instituted unconscious bias interview training to help identify and hire more minority and women candidates. An experiential unconscious bias workshop uses audio recordings of real employee testimony to introduce actual examples of bias and prejudice in the workplace.
Recruit talent from nontraditional channels. Creating a more diverse workforce isn’t something we need to talk about; it’s something we need to do, intensifying work with affinity groups and professional organizations to help ensure access to a broad range of high-potential talent. Engaging organizations like Persian Women in Tech, Hispanicize, and Here Are All the Black People is essential to helping our industry widen our collective talent pool and hear directly from these groups about the issues that matter to them in choosing an employer.
Beyond networking with a more diverse group of colleges, professional organizations and affinity groups, we also need to consider reaching out to potential talent on their terms. Some of the smartest, wittiest minds are on full display on Twitter. Any company in need of a copywriter may want to begin its search on that platform. The same can be said of finding writers on Medium, or photographers and designers on Instagram. To recruit a more creative workforce, we need to think creatively.
Be an ally. Any social change can boil down to two main actions: advocating for what's right and speaking out against what's wrong. Our mission is one part empowering, supporting and recognizing women and minorities, and one part breaking down the systems that have worked against these groups.
Most of us are not in a position to create sweeping change in the company that employs us. But we are well within our power to consider being an advocate on the small scale. Consider mentoring a new hire or young rising star. Let managers and supervisors know when one of your peers has done an amazing job. Give the floor to your colleagues in meetings, and credit their work and ideas.
Work the other side of the equation, too: Be mindful of your own bias and work to broaden your personal network. Speak out when you see others claim credit for work and ideas that did not actually originate with them; suggest recasting client teams that do not have adequate levels of gender and racial diversity. Commit to having women and minorities included in every candidate interview and debriefing panel, as well as in the candidate pool for new hires and promotions.
If you take these initial steps, you can become known as a person who doesn't tolerate inequality.