Diversity, inclusion and belonging are no longer just something your politically correct friend talks about, they have become increasingly important in today’s workplace. Turns out that diversity in belief systems, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, and ethnicity translate into diversity in thought, skills, and approach providing a competitive advantage
Numerous studies have proven that organizations with a more diverse workforce have not only been more successful and innovative but, ultimately, more profitable as well. A 2018 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed 1700 companies and found that organizations with a more diverse workplace have 19% higher revenue.
The benefits don’t stop there. Not only do diverse and inclusive organizations yield more profitable results, they also increase productivity, employee engagement and personal growth.
If your organization is looking to increase diversity, building an inclusive environment is key to creating a sense of belonging and retaining your diverse talent pool. A report conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) showed that women in technology fields are 45% more likely than their male peers to leave their industry within a year, and the quit rate in the years that follow is twice as high. Additionally, Girls Who Code found that while the percentage of young girls interested in tech fields is 74%, by the time they reach college or start their careers, that number significantly drops off.
So, how do organizations not just recruit diverse talent but keep them? As a woman working in a predominantly male field, cybersecurity, I have experienced firsthand some of the efforts made to increase inclusion and belonging. While many fields, technology in particular, still have a way to go, we are having the right conversations to move forward.
If your organization is looking to foster a sense of belonging, here are some suggestions:
First, develop a diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy. Could be developing scorecards to track diversity and inclusion metrics or creating a working group to develop key performance indicators (KPIs), an outlined strategy is important to the success of the program.
Second, belonging begins with leadership. It is difficult for associates to buy into something if their leadership is not. Leaders need to lead by example by engaging with associates, showing up to support them and making a conscious effort to ensure everyone feels like they have a voice at the table. Driving out unconscious biases is another area where leaders can make a difference. The majority of women who leave the technology field do so because of gender bias. We all know the stereotypes that men are referred to as “assertive”, while women are “aggressive.” Unconscious bias training and having a bias representative present in performance evaluations can make a real difference.
Third, organizations can create resource groups for underrepresented groups to share their stories. I am lucky, my organization has Women in Technology and Women in Cyber groups. These groups have provided me with a sense of community and opportunities I would not have otherwise. They have opened doors for me to speak at events, take on leadership roles early in my career, and work with other resource group leaders.
Fourth, Allyship is a crucial aspect of inclusion and belonging and something organizations should actively encourage. You do not have to identify as a member of a particular group to support them and it can benefit you as well. Being a member of various resource groups has brought me so much joy at work, but I honestly feel just as much joy being an ally for other resource groups. I have been lucky to have a great example of an ally in my father, who is an advocate for women and other underrepresented minorities in the workplace. He continuously encourages me to fight for a seat at the table, even if it means I am the only woman seated there. Because of him, I believe my voice matters and can make a difference.
Lastly, organizations need to create an environment that welcomes honest feedback. Associates should feel as if their opinions and feedback are not only heard but valued.
I am encouraged to see more organizations implementing steps like these to foster a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. We, as a society, still have a long way to go, but we are making progress. I am hopeful these initiatives will continue to grow and create a better, more inclusive workplace for the generations to come. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "There will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine.”
This blog post courtesy of member:
Caroline Stottlemyer, Sr. Associate / ISO
Capital One | Cyber
1 Powers, Anna. “A Study Finds That Diverse Companies Produce 19% More Revenue.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 June 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/annapowers/2018/06/27/a-study-finds-that-diverse-companies-produce-19-more-revenue/#281bfbc5506f.
2 Mercer, Jamie. “Why Are Women Leaving Technology Jobs?” CIO, CIO, 29 Sept. 2017, www.cio.com/article/3229355/why-are-women-leaving-technology-jobs.html.
3 Mercer, Jamie. “Why Are Women Leaving Technology Jobs?” CIO, CIO, 29 Sept. 2017, www.cio.com/article/3229355/why-are-women-leaving-technology-jobs.html.