Diversity programs require support from leadership and other company employees
Yet women and minorities are sometimes penalized for promoting diversity in the workplace, according to a study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
The research, published in the Academy of Management Journal, found that women and nonwhite employees who, through hiring decisions, actively favor and promote other women and nonwhite employees receive much worse ratings from their bosses, compared to employees who don’t utilize diversity program hiring practices.
The study also found that women and nonwhite executives who displayed diversity-valuing behaviors — such as respecting cultural, religious, gender and racial differences — were viewed negatively.
Caucasian men, however, were not regarded negatively for promoting diversity.
It’s clear companies need to be conscious of potentially skewed reactions to diversity in the workplace.
The following moves may help organizations correct emerging diversity program problems:
Make diversity policies public
The University of Colorado Boulder study found that Caucasian men weren’t penalized for viewing diversity positively — but they also weren’t rewarded for promoting diversity.
Encourage diversity in the workplace by actively advocating the efforts your company has made to achieve it. Check out our recent blog post on sharing your diversity successes for suggestions.
Focus on strong diversity program management
Companies that gained higher spots on this year’s DiversityInc list of the top 50 companies for diversity showed greater progress in diversity management areas, such as talent pipelining, talent development and CEO/leadership commitment.
Ensure your organization’s diversity program is a consistent, effective effort by appointing responsible parties to oversee its execution. Tracking and assessing hiring and other data can help you measure the program’s results.
Use success-based stats to encourage buy-in
If diversity programs are met with resistance internally, remind leadership that studies have found diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, greater market share and larger relative profits — and that incorporating a 30 percent representation of female executives and women on boards has been tied to a 15 percent increase in net revenue margin, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Reviewing your diversity program on an annual basis can help you determine if it needs to be revisited — or completely revised.
Get ideas from our recent blog posts on what diverse companies are doing right, solutions to some common diversity program barriers and the top 5 elements your diversity program should include.