‘Workplace Diversity’ Still an Elusive Dream

3 min read

Diversity in the workplace affects the entire corporation. Human Resources might be the focal point, but everyone from owner to worker – full-time, part-time or contractor – is a responsible party.

HR experts Dorothy Dalton and Meghan M. Biro were of single mind as they talked about diversity’s effect and prospects for making it the norm throughout business.

Dalton has been working in talent management and recruitment for many years. She runs her own executive search firm and has founded an organization to help professional women reach their potential.

Biro is a Forbes analyst, brand strategist, and TalentCulture chief executive officer.

For greater worker contributions, there must be greater emphasis on delegation. That begins with communication. That way leaders can better understand workers’ talents to use them to best advantage.

To make sure all people can contribute fully at work, Biro and Dalton agreed that businesses to have to change their culture.

“We need to really understand that work just wasn’t built for most people,” Biro said. “Our work culture needs dramatic changes if we’re going to find true inclusion.”

She has previously written about how a majority of women don’t feel welcomed by the tech industry, as one example.

“We need to see the culture change from the very top,” Biro said. “Getting more women and a more diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives into the C-Suite will be transformative.”

Making that occur will take backing from the top.

“For there to be real changes in culture, we need leadership commitment as well as systemic and behavioral change,” Dalton said. “Does anyone think we should look more closely at what stops us being objective?

Peter Drucker said, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ Unless everyone commits to changing the way they do things, cultural change won’t happen,” Dalton said.

She would not fully endorse the notion that artificial intelligence can help to hire right people.

“It can, to a point,” Dalton said. “Even algorithms have bias. Their effect depends on who created them.

“To change our behavior, we have to reflect on ourselves and check out our own bias blind spots,” she said. “That’s not easy, and no one likes to do it. That is why we resist unconscious bias training.”

Dalton said it is “super important to move away from command-and-control management style.” Another asset would be to get more women and more diverse representation of backgrounds.

“The more women at the top, the better, but inclusion and diversity can be led by any leader,” Dalton said.

One of her company’s goals is to help other businesses reduce bias in the hiring process.

“Inclusive cultures are built on listening skills — very undervalued,” Dalton said. 

“As HR consultants, we are there to help clients create inclusive workplaces and bias-managed recruitment processes,” she said. “Everyone in the process has had unconscious bias training and looks for candidates using a wider range of channels.”

One of the prime requirements is sexual harassment-free home and work environments.

“This this is critical for organizations to have effective zero-tolerance policies on sexism and harassment,” Dalton said.

Awareness training could unravel unconscious bias, but that is not a total solution.

“This is a great starting point but needs follow through,” Dalton said. “As a standalone initiative it won’t work.

“We recommend systems of checks and balances while making sure sourcing channels are as diverse as possible,” she said. “Interview and shortlisting processes are vetted to examine bias.”

All of these changes require tact.

“We encourage the constructive calling out and discussion of any bias from profile and advertising creation to final decision making,” Dalton said. “It creeps into every stage of the process if you allow it to.”

Biro’s company has tackled similar challenges.

“My team at TalentCulture works with some truly inspiring organizations working hard to decrease bias and make the entire employee process more equitable,” she said.

“For example, HireRight is supporting pay equity,” Biro said. “They are eliminating the required disclosure of previous salary information during the background-check process.”

She also singled out Topia, the global mobility management company.

“They are helping organizations put the right people in the right job — no matter where they live,” Biro said. “Mobility is a key to building more diverse and inclusive teams.”

Ideally, the next generation should go to work to work — not have to wonder about or fear what lies around the corner.

“We still have a long way to go,” Biro said. “Changing our perceptions of what makes people ‘professional’ or gives them ‘leadership potential’ has to start early — like in elementary school.

“If we can work on reprogramming the way we think about who belongs in leadership positions, the next generation will have a much more diverse and fair work experience,” she said. “The first step is talking about what we see that’s not fair. Let’s keep the conversation going.”

Dalton countered that artificial intelligence and new approaches to work have the potential to make a difference, but must be closely monitored.

“We are seeing a shift with younger generations who want something different than their parents –although they will still need to be vigilant to stop backsliding,” she said. “There are so many things we could do differently, but It is a leadership initiative. We must have buy-in from our leaders.”

This includes allowing allow room for change. Companies get stuck in one way to do things.

“It’s up to leaders to make a genuine commitment to building inclusive workplaces where everyone is treated with respect to do their best work,” Dalton said. “It’s a business issue, not an HR issue.

“Every one of us has to speak up when we see injustice,” she said. “It’s important to know what that is.”

Dalton and Biro also talked more in depth on this subject during a WorkTrends podcast.

Jim Katzaman Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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