Since the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, humanity took a stance to address the issues surrounding systematic racism, covert racism, racial profiling, and the abuse of societal privileges. Despite the deadly pandemic and economic downturn we are experiencing, the nation is in uproar seeking reparation for these acts of injustice.

To help dissipate the spirit of anger, many small businesses and corporations took proactive steps to empathize with the public and present measurable actions to advance equality and fairness in the workplace. These acts of kindness were displayed even though these same businesses incurred severe damages during the recent looting, street demonstrations, and protests.

If you and your organization have the same corporate social responsibility concerns, join the movement to support racial equality and fairness by taking a hard look at your organization’s wages and salaries, leadership representation, hiring practice, and diversity and inclusion strategies.

Wages & Salaries

A culture of fairness and equality starts with equal pay for equal work. However, since the enactment of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, equal pay for equal work is still not a reality in the United States.

Jackson Gruver, a data analyst at PayScale, reported that African American men are still making less than equally qualified white men. Last year, PayScale sampled 1.8 million employees and analyzed the differences in earnings between white men and men of color from the years 2017-2020. This study showed that black men earned 87 cents for every dollar a white man earned. Hispanic workers earned 91 cents for every dollar earned by white men, while Asian men earned $1.15 for every dollar earned by a white male worker.

Equally, there continues to be pay disparities between men and women who have comparable job titles, responsibilities, and professional experience. In 2020, women make only $0.81 – $0.98 on average for every dollar a man makes. They are still being paid less than men even when all compensable factors are the same, and there is no attributable reason other than gender. PayScale surveys show that the gender pay gap is wider for women of color, women in executive level roles, women in certain occupations and industries, and in some US states.

In all to say this: if you want a culture of equality and fairness in your organization, you must be willing to address pay disparities. And if you identify pay gaps, start analyzing why they exist. If they exist for any reasons related to race, gender, age, physical conditions, or any other discriminatory reasons, begin to build strategies to remediate these issues long-term. Simultaneously, build specific – not general – policies to prevent this problem from resurfacing.

Harvard Business Review survey found that 75 percent of its respondents claimed superficial policies and language were insufficient to truly institute real change. The executive team must be committed to eradicating covert racism and building anti-discriminatory policies. In other words, inequality and unfairness in the workplace will not cease unless everyone is onboard. If you want to boost your results, make a corporate announcement detailing how you are working towards eliminating pay disparities. This announcement will increase morale and productivity.

Leadership Representation

The makeup of your executive team is a huge signifier of your company’s attitude toward equality and fairness. It speaks volumes about your corporate beliefs on the glass ceiling and equal employment opportunity. CNN says, “True corporate diversity can’t be achieved unless it’s reflected at the top.” Hence, it is essential to keep your management body diverse. The need for diversity at all levels of the workplace is essential for business growth. It is not just the right thing to do; It helps companies better innovate in diverse markets and compete as US demographics and consumer habits change. Yet numerous studies show there is still a lack of diversity in C-level positions.

In 2018, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that black professionals held just 3.3 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles. Fortune Magazine reported less than 1 percent of CEOs are black in Fortune 500 companies. Over the past two decades, there have only been a total of 17 black CEOs. Of those, only one was a woman — Ursula Burns, who ran Xerox from 2009 to 2016. Furthermore, a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey described that only 24 CEOs are women among the Fortune 500 companies. This represents just 5 percent of the total number of CEOs.

Diversity & Inclusion

Vernā Myers said diversity is inviting everyone to the party. Inclusion is asking everyone to dance. In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Inclusion equals involvement. Inclusion creates a path where participation is encouraged, team spirit is fostered, and innovation is stimulated. If diversity and inclusion are part of your business strategy, your business will experience great growth and financial success.

However, if your company’s leadership neglects to cultivate the spirit of diversity and inclusion, your corporate body may never reach its full potential. As a result, it is recommended to develop policies and practices that bring change and support its goals.

To get you started, here are some noteworthy solutions:

  • Create judgment-free zones for your team.
    When your employees feel they must mask or censor core parts of themselves at work because they feel unsure or unsafe, these feelings impact their engagement and loyalty. Ultimately, your employee retention and turnover rate will rise. For example, if a breastfeeding mother has no space to pump her breast milk, she can feel unaccepted or excluded. If a Muslim or Christian employee feels insecure about maintaining his or her daily prayer routine on company grounds, this person will feel reluctant to stay at the company long-term.

    Statistics on diversity in the workplace show that most companies desperately need to consider aspects of inclusivity as part of their efforts to create a workforce that reflects various backgrounds, faith, race, age, disabilities, and sexual orientation.

  • Foster a culture where every voice is heard and respected, even customers.
    Employees quit jobs when they feel unappreciated or undervalued. Customers are not loyal when they can’t identify with their suppliers’ services or values. In response, it is vital to create an environment where everyone is “emotionally tied” to your corporate vision, values, brand, products, and services. Look at Apple! Most of their consumers – if not all — live and swear by their products.

    Your employees need to feel safe and empowered to express their unique perspectives without fear of retaliation or judgment. Companies that make sure their employees feel included and respected regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical conditions, cultural background, or country of origin are generally more successful than those that do not.

    One of the great ways to instill a spirit of connectedness is to invest in the latest corporate communications apps or chat software. Use these to tools to create regular group discussions where employees and customers can voice their opinions. Lay the ground rules of how and when they should communicate and what is allowed and what is not permitted.

    Those platforms of communications should be created at every level of organizations where workers can speak openly with peers, management, or subordinates. They can be as small as a focus group, or as large as a town hall with a specific agenda planned. During those sessions, don’t play favorites, practice basic courtesy, and pay special attention to how you can embrace non-discriminatory practices and policies in your workplace.

  • Encourage diverse thinking.
    People from different backgrounds and generations have different perspectives on the same life issues. There could literally be a million ways to approach a single problem even if the solution or results are relatively the same. Embracing diverse thinking is useful in generating ideas and getting helpful feedback while at the same time, creating an environment where everyone feels relevant and part of a shared mission.
  • Make your workspaces inclusive.
    Establish gender-friendly bathrooms and restrooms and set up dedicated nursing rooms for mothers. Mothers should not have to book a conference room or hide in the bathroom. A nursing room needs a door that locks, a comfortable chair, covered windows, proper ventilation, and a special refrigerator to store the pumped milk.

Hiring

Diversity should be at the forefront of your hiring practices. Currently, the hiring process is still unfair and biased. It is influenced by unconscious sexism, racism, and ageism. If left unchecked, it can harm your company long-term. To avoid these issues, apply some of the following techniques:

  • Rewrite job descriptions so they are gender and age neutral.
  • Create a blind system for reviewing resumes so you don’t see “demographic characteristics.”
  • Use AI software to screen resumes for specific job requirements and qualifications.
  • In your interviews, ask behavioral questions as opposed to general interview questions. Take time to learn about the candidate’s competencies as opposed to racial background, lifestyle and related.
  • Set diversity goals as an organization, which will help you track your progress.

Practicing equality and fairness in the workplace is challenging, but it can lead to ground-breaking discoveries for your business. Cultivating a spirit of diversity and inclusion is not a task that can only be adopted by human resources. It is collaborative project that everyone must participate in, at every level of the organization—especially the executive team. Therefore, start today by designing impactful policies that will keep everyone accountable.

A successful executive once said, “a great business strategy begins with a great human strategy.” So put your human skills to work and build a great business. If you have any questions, please contact our team at info@xcelhr.com.