International Women’s Day each March is an important moment to assess where we are in the way of equality and inclusion but also, more importantly, look at where we still have to go.
It is well known that having female leaders can benefit a business’s bottom line. For example, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), shows gender-diverse companies show higher financial returns, profits and consistent growth in the long run.
The same is also clear in diverse organizations because they reflect society much more accurately. When a workforce fairly represents different ages, nationalities, genders, and differently-abled individuals, it benefits from a multitude of perspectives, ideas, and talents.
The technology sector today
Diversity in the tech industry continues to be an issue high on the agenda for most and it is still seen as one of the biggest challenges facing the sector today.
At Salesforce, we’ve made it a priority to foster a workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve. We want employees to feel confident, fulfilled, and empowered. To feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work, and assured that they will be provided opportunities for advancement and growth. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet.
More widely, there are a vast number of initiatives designed to help and promote women into tech and leadership roles for example, yet the statistics seem to stubbornly defy these best efforts. We need to investigate, identify and overcome the source of this tension. What is holding back all the positive work that is being done to rectify these issues?
Ultimately, businesses have a responsibility to become more inclusive and encourage everyone to learn and take on bigger challenges. With this in mind, let’s deep dive into the strategies that can help make diversity, inclusion and empowerment fundamental tenets of office culture.
(1) Offer guidance through diverse leadership and mentoring programs
In order for a business to be truly diverse its employees, including its leaders, must actually be diverse. While hiring in diverse leadership talent is one route, companies will see benefits when thinking long-term and investing in mentor-ship programmes for underrepresented minorities.
Businesses can prove their commitment to employees in this way and, in doing so, will ultimately foster a more loyal workforce that encourages others to do the same.
(2) Recognize the power of diverse networks
By encouraging internal diversity networks and peer groups to form, the collective voice of underrepresented groups and their allies strengthens with their numbers. These communities are key for ensuring diversity and inclusion remains a priority. Critically they also become a support network that empower employees to become agents of change in the business.
(3) Create inclusive practices from the start
When organizations look at their business practices they should be looking for opportunities to become more inclusive. This could be anything from hiring and on-boarding, to promotions and predicting ‘leadership material’. To become more diverse and reap the benefits of being so, organisations must ensure that every process has been considered through a diversity and inclusion lens, and that they’re doing everything they can to include, grow, and empower minorities. Workplace technology and data analytics tools can help give business leaders an unbiased, systematic head start.
Setting goals, making change
As with any internal initiative, success requires careful scrutiny and measurement.
Having tangible targets in place means businesses can keep the focus on diversity and inclusive leadership development all-year-round. They’ll know exactly what works, as well as what doesn’t and – importantly – they can measure success and take better accountability.
For businesses, it has never been more important to foster a diverse and empowered workforce. A comprehensive, data-driven approach is the most efficient way to cultivate a culture that truly reflects society and provides opportunity for all.