Toolkits for Action

Get the tools you need to make equality a workplace reality at your organization.

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Run regular audits. Pay equity analyses ensure that pay is rooted in pertinent factors, such as experience or performance ratings. Time the audit to coincide with the time period that your company is issuing raises or bonuses, so any discrepancies can be addressed and salaries can be can be adjusted as needed.

Be transparent. A deliberately transparent approach to compensation practices helps employees understand the rationale behind them and helps them set goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean publishing individual salaries, but consider broadcasting compensation criteria, along with the formula used to calculate pay, bonuses, and raises.

Assign accountability. Outline clear roles and responsibilities for those who are responsible for equitable pay, be they managers, the human resources departments, or any employees involved in the remuneration process. Ideally, make these roles public so the whole company understands the processes and those responsible for them.

Monitor promotions and raises. Examine promotions and raises and confirm that they are free of bias and based on purely objective, merit-based variables. Research shows that, depending on factors such as gender or race, employees are not equally likely to ask for raises, nor are managers likely to equally evaluate all raise requests. To mitigate this, create a clear and auditable promotion process that all employees and managers must follow.

Conduct blind resume reviews. To ensure that you are assessing a candidate based on their qualifications, and not demographic characteristics, remove identifiers such as name or address when reviewing resumes. This will remove any unconscious biases from trickling into the process and will keep you focused on finding the most relevant candidates for the position.

Consider your word choice. First impressions matter, so make sure that job listings — which act as potential candidates’ first point of contact with your company — reflect a culture of care. Research shows that gendered words can act as deterrents for certain demographics, so use either software tools or a careful editing process to ensure neutral language that caters to both males and females

Structure the interview process. In theory, unstructured interviews allow a candidate to reveal their expertise organically over the course of the conversation. In practice, they allow bias to creep in. Instead, standardize the interview process by asking each candidate the same set of questions, with a focus on factors that would directly impact their suitability for the position. Cement your findings with an interview scorecard, which collates responses and makes it easy to compare candidates.

Restructure how you approach referrals. It’s true that referrals can be a great way to to fill a role in a tight talent market, but taking a referrals-first approach to recruitment can perpetuate a lack of workplace diversity. To mitigate this, ensure that employee-referrals are not given preferential treatment during the interview process. You could also consider revamping your referral bonus programs to reward employees who refer diverse candidates.

Redesign your marketing materials with diversity in mind. Ensure that your messaging and marketing materials reflect a culture of care. Scour your existing materials for unconscious bias, from gendered language to exclusive phrasing. Make sure that your photos, messaging, website, and collateral reflect both the diversity of your organization and the diverse talent you want to recruit.

Go public with your goals. Outline a clear set of deliverables and goals for diversity and inclusion initiatives, and then make them public. Not only does this hold you accountable for their progress, but also helps inform — and perhaps even inspire — the wider community.

Make your values known. Make sure that potential suppliers can easily and quickly understand your policies vis-à-vis inclusion. To this end, consider putting a mission statement on your website, clearly defining your values in all of your messaging and marketing materials, and perhaps even creating an inclusion playbook that partners can put into practice.

Define your supplier diversity strategy. Set benchmarks for inclusive partnerships. These can be both quantifiable (e.g. dictating that a certain percentage of the companies that you partner with are female-run) and ideological (e.g. ensuring that any company you partner with has a commitment to inclusivity that mirrors your own).

Look inwards and outwards. Don’t solely focus your inclusion efforts within the confines of your company; see how they can also affect change in the wider world. Not only does this better engage your existing talent pool, but it also paves the way for more diverse hires down the road.

Hand women the mic. “Manterrupting” is often overshadowed by its more ubiquitous counterpart (“mansplaining”), but it is an equal scourge of workplaces. A multitude of studies have shown that women are interrupted more frequently than men, and that they are apt to speak up less in the workplace. Address this by ensuring that women have a place in the meeting and proactively giving them opportunities to contribute.

Redefine the rules. Identify existing policies — particularly those that have been in place for years — and determine whether they are truly inclusive. A one-shift-fits-all working schedule, for instance, can be detrimental to single mothers. After identifying problem policies, update them accordingly to accommodate your diverse workforce.

Democratize the mentorship process. Women often hesitate to seek out male mentors, just as men often balk at the thought of female mentees. Create an environment where everyone has equal access to mentorship opportunities, regardless of gender. Consider implementing a standardized process for all employees to request and be assigned mentors, to remove any biases from adversely impacting certain demographics.

Take a zero tolerance approach to harassment. A recent survey by the U.S. EEOC found  that “anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.” It also pointed to another statis that “75% of employees who spoke out against workplace mistreatment faced some form of retaliation.” Don’t just quash sexual harassment in the workplace, but also ensure that employees feel empowered to speak up if they experience or witness it.

Build benefit packages that attract diversity. This could include various retirement savings options, leave, vacation and educational opportunities. It’s important to put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and — regardless of religious affiliations, age, or sexual orientation — construct packages that accommodate diversity and different stages of life.

Focus on contributions, not the clock. Instead of a “one shift fits all” approach, give employees more control over their schedules so they can find a work/life balance that allows them to shine both in and outside the workplace. Supporting employees’ outside obligations — from medical needs to childcare — allows them to bring their best selves to work and deliver better results.

Create re-entry points. Many women leave the workforce mid-career, which makes re-entry a challenge. Invest in programs that fosters this talent, grows their existing skills and helps them develop new ones, and prepares them for success back in the workplace.

Start from the top. Having women in leadership sets the stage for a more equitable workplace. When executive-level positions become vacant, make sure that there is a pool of qualified female applicants in the pool for consideration. Invest in programming that provides opportunities for women to advance — and ensure that their pay keeps pace with their male counterparts.

Understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy centers around compassion or pity, while empathy seeks to understand the feelings of another. In conflict, tap into your empathetic side to help employees’ unique perspectives get heard.

Learn from diverse perspectives. Gain insight from the unique perspectives, backgrounds, and talents of your workforce at every level. Create information-sharing pathways — one on one meetings, surveys, and focus groups — that give female employees a space to candidly share ideas on how to foster organizational growth.

Normalize cross-level collaboration. Facilitate systems where employees across all levels of experience — from entry-level to upper management — share facetime with one another. These relationships will provide emerging talent with connections and resources, while leadership teams can learn more about the challenges their workforce faces, and how to address them.

Lead with transparency. Employees should feel like they’re not an integral member of a team, not a cog in a machine. By sharing information with your team whenever possible and keeping an open line of communication, you cultivate a workplace where everyone feels valued and has a vested interest in the greater mission of your organization.

Take time to reflect. Unconscious bias slips into our everyday lives. Have a facilitator come into your workplace to help your team unpack their biases, and how those biases shape their experience at your organization.

Consider where bias creeps in – and address it. Hiring practices are notorious for being a magnet for bias. Rethink the questions you ask applicants, the way you structure your interview processes, and how you can streamline your approach to ensure a more inclusive approach.

Build an inclusive vocabulary. Rethink the language you use to describe your organization, and make sure that it reflects an approach that is accessible and relevant to all your constituents. This shouldn’t just be used in marketing, either – it should also shape your HR practices and internal communication.

Rethink your evaluation systems. Aside from the hiring process, evaluations are one of the biggest pitfalls for unconscious bias. Ensure that all evaluations focus on the employee’s behavior, not their personality, and create an accountability framework so that evaluations can be flagged if they seem to demonstrate bias.

Turn everyone into an ally. Everyone should be an ally for inclusion. Educate employees about discrimination and unconscious bias, so they are able to recognize it in themselves and others, and know how to handle it when they see it.

Create a space where inclusivity can thrive. Take a hard look at your workspace and determine whether it truly fosters an inclusive culture. Even small changes, such as a couch area for impromptu meetings, can go a long way in empowering employees to collaborate and bring their best selves to work.

Refine your approach to inclusion. Many inclusion initiatives inadvertently further sequester minorities. By replacing traditional programs with inclusion councils, as Deloitte has done, you bring together multiple viewpoints and are more likely to get buy-in from the organization at large.

Think about how the rest of the world sees you. Create marketing and communication strategies that reflect the diverse community you serve. When outreach is representative of your workforce and your clientbase, both communities will feel more connected to your organization.

Celebrate diverse talent. Honor individuals who think outside the box, and make it public through a shout-out at a meeting or an email blast to the team. By giving a voice to unique viewpoints and backgrounds, you pave a pathway for more diverse talent to follow suit.

Make diversity and inclusion a part of your business plan. Incorporate targets around diversity into your annual goals. In doing so, you tie the success of your organization to its inclusion efforts.

  • Make goals visible. Don’t be afraid to go public about your goals to address the gender gap. By sharing progress benchmarks, lessons learned, and future plans, organizations take a stance that parity matters – and that they aren’t afraid to put in the hard work to make it a reality in their workplace.
  • Make parity a priority at every level. Parity doesn’t just belong in the office; it should be reflected in every facet of your business. Prioritize partnerships with female or minority-owned groups to invest in a broad base of equity.
  • Stay realistic. Be ambitious and realistic. Your parity goals may feel conservative at first, particularly if you are in an industry that draws talent from male-dominated majors such as computer engineering. But it’s important to remember that, when you commit to parity, you are also helping to change the culture across your industry. And that takes time.
  • Think big and celebrate small. The road to gender parity can be a long one, and doing it right takes time and intention. Create ambitious goals for your organization, but celebrate the successes – however small – as they come.
  • Stay involved. It can be tempting to delegate inclusion initiatives, but for them to really stick, every person at the company — from the CEO to new hires — has to play a part. Policies such as open door mentoring sessions and regular company-wide standups build strong foundations for a culture of care.

Put someone in charge of diversity. Successful companies like Apple and Google understand that if you’re going to make progress in this area, you have to make it a priority and you have to assign ownership. If you don’t have the luxury of hiring a “VP of Diversity,” then make sure it’s baked into someone’s job description. Make sure diversity metrics are added to your company’s key performance indicators and progress is measured. It might be scary at first, but the only way to see sustainable change is to hold someone or some department accountable.