The diversity figures you present next Women’s Day, you need to work on today

Last Monday was International Women’s Day. Awereness was raised for diversity and for inequality that persists on many fronts across the globe. Plenty of companies put a spotlight on their competent female leaders and highlighted their efforts to increase diversity. Today is just another Thursday, March 11th. Now that the spotlights are off, it’s time to get to work. Let’s not lose focus. How are you nurturing diversity in your business?

Diversity has an economic impact

First, let’s focus on why diversity should be high on your agenda. In an article in the Belgian news, 5 high ranked women raised important points on equality in their line of work.

One striking fact is that in the S&P 1500-index, there are more CEO’s named John than there are women. Wow. But that’s actually not the point we’re trying to make here. Véronique Goossens, chief economist of Belfius bank, has this to say about companies which embrace diversity: “Your credit worthiness increases, the companies are more innovative and can adapt to changing customer behaviours more quickly. [diversity] is not a nice to have, it effectively does have an impact.”

Avoiding unconscious bias

Next question: now that International Women’s Day is over, how do you get to work and go about increasing diversity in your ranks? One thing that might get in your way, in unconscious bias. Unconscious bias can be defined as “attitudes or stereotypes that affect our views, our actions, and our decision-making ability”. It is automatic in all of us, and has an influence on our thinking. If you want to give room to diversity, unconscious bias is something you need to tackle first, in your recruitment, but also in HR decisions such as promotions.

There are tools out there to help you with this. They provide you with only objective data and artificial intelligence to help you avoid bias. An important note here is that you need the right tools. Some AI has built-in bias. It works with facial recognition or experience data, which just solidifies previous bias into AI. Or it uses data that might violate a candidate’s or employee’s privacy. Ethical AI, however, is transparent and starts from unbiased data.

Focus on values

Another productive way of nurturing diversity is focusing on someone’s values. There’s two reasons for this. Firstly, because professional values are largely independent of race, gender, or age, but they tell you very much about a potential match with your company. If someone likes to work very independently with a focus on durability, you learn something about them apart from the skills your find in their resume. It provides you with extra information about whether they might fit in with your company, but it tells you nothing about their race or gender.

Secondly: because value alignment actually welcomes diversity. This might seem a little counterintuitive at first. Diversity implies… difference. How can there be difference if everyone is aligned? As argued by Prof. Joeri Hofmans en Prof. Timothy Judge in Harvard Business Review, shared professional values actually provide a buffer for any differences that might arise from having a diverse team. It provides a solid base to actually profit from the heterogeneity in your team.

Are you getting to work on diversity?

Women’s day is a fantastich initiative for making everyone aware of the need for equality, in different aspects, all over the world. It’s up to you to translate that awareness into action. We hope this blog post gives you some starting points for implementing strategies to work on your diversity.

The good news you can bring next International Women’s Day, you need to start creating now. Twegos has tools to help you set up your strategy. Please contact us if you would like to see how we can help you create an honest, level playing field and increase your profitability along the way.