Action, Allies, Achievements, and Accountability are the cornerstones of a strategy for achieving diversity goals. As the CEO of Hyve Dynamics, I work with our leadership team to ensure that diversity and inclusion is reflected in our strategy and operations. I do this, not just because I’m passionate about it, or because the tech industry is one of the least diverse, but because it makes both moral and commercial sense.
Below are some specific methods companies of all sizes can truly become diversity champions rather than just playing lip service.
Develop and Cultivate A Diverse Talent Pipeline:
The core of any strategy is a diverse talent “pipeline”. The pipeline provides a source of qualified resources to fill open roles and opportunities. Many organisations struggle with achieving diversity goals because they don’t have this in place. Talent pipelines should address three areas: (a) senior leadership, (b) employees, and (c) suppliers & partners. It should also consider sourcing from diverse communities of qualified talent.
Diversity needs to be reflected across leadership teams, the board of directors and management committees. At Hyve Dynamics our governing and advisory boards’ composition is 30% black and 60% people of colour. We did not set targets or quotas. We achieved diversity organically because qualified candidates that were also ethnically diverse were already part of our community. Our senior leadership team already engaged with an ethnically diverse network. Hence, when opportunities arose we organically had a pool of ideal candidates that just happened to be people of colour. Additional actions that can be taken to improve diversity among senior leadership include the following:
● Prepare High Potential Diverse Talent for Leadership- Identify high potential diverse talent within your company. Offer learning and development resources that prepare individuals for leadership opportunities (e.g. leadership training, executive coaching).
Perform Succession Planning- Ensure diversity is a focus during succession planning. Align high potential diverse talent to future leadership opportunities. Create professional development plans which allows candidates to address gaps and receive the necessary experience and sponsorship to successfully be promoted to leadership positions.
● Conduct Proactive Industry Talent Mapping- Even before a vacancy exists, identify qualified diverse talent that would be good candidates for future opportunities. Also leverage relationships with partners and suppliers that can be a potential source for referring qualified diverse talent that are seeking opportunities.
Diverse Suppliers & Partners:
Economic inclusion and hence providing commercial opportunities to diverse qualified vendors needs to be a key component of a diversity strategy. At Hyve we outsource many of our non-core operations and functions to vendors and partners. Identify opportunities to outsource and partner with diverse suppliers. Additional actions to support diverse suppliers may include the following:
● Product and Service Donation- Donate your company’s products and/or services to diverse communities and organisations focused on fostering diversity and inclusion.
● Donate- Commit funding to initiatives and nonprofits focused on delivering programming focused on addressing racism.
Developing and cultivating a pipeline of qualified employees is the best way to recruit and retain diverse talent. Pipeline development is a long term solution that removes “tick in the box” exercises such as quotas and other forced means of achieving diversity. Support a diverse employee pipeline with the following actions:.
● Diversify Recruiters- Ensure there is ethnic diversity among and a focus on diversity from internal and external recruiters. Recruiters are gatekeepers. You want to ensure that diverse candidates are getting through to you.
● Review Sources of Talent – Evaluate the communities and schools where job candidates are sourced. Develop relationships with diverse universities and schools. Create opportunities in which the students have exposure to your company through various programming (e.g.hackathons, internships, job experiences, career talks).
Effectively Leveraging Support:
Allies must be active contributors to any diversity strategy. An ally is not someone that simply says they don’t condone racism. An ally’s words are reinforced by action: “I stand with you and this is how I will show my support”. Below are some ways allies can show support in an impactful way:
● Show up:Strength is in numbers. Attend events and programming focused on achieving diversity and denouncing racism.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable:Leaders need to encourage having those “uncomfortable conversations” and showing empathy. It is only until you push beyond that “comfort zone” do we achieve understanding, healing and growth.
● Ask for help:You don’t have to do it alone. There is an opportunity to engage other companies and individuals that are committed to improving diversity. Ask them to join you in your efforts and also join them in their efforts.
Achievements: Amplify Success Stories and Be Transparent on Progress
Highlighting achievements allows us to learn from one another as we work to address diversity challenges.
● Storytelling- Amplify the voices of ethnically diverse employees, leaders and partners by creating platforms and opportunities that allow for them to share their unique insights and perspectives. Opportunities may include existing company events and programming (e.g. town halls; conferences; special events).
● Share Success Stories- Highlight leaders within the company that are making positive contributions inside and outside of the company in regards to promoting diversity and inclusion. Also share the internal success stories about the company’s efforts focused on diversity and inclusion.
Ownership and Transparency:
Many efforts fail because management is not held accountable for achieving diversity goals. To ensure focus, goals should be aligned to performance reviews and compensation. Other ways to provide accountability include the following:
● Form a Board of Directors Ad-Hoc Committeefocused on improving ethnic diversity. At a board level this committee will be empowered to deliver change.
Provide Transparency on Statistics and Progress- Disclose statistics regarding ethnic diversity senior leadership and workforce composition and metrics on the progress of diversity strategy. Publishing metrics helps to keep focus and hold individuals accountable.
● Clearly Define the Composition of “Diversity” and “Ethnic Minorities” – Provide detail regarding the categories which define “ethnic minorities”. At Hyve for diversity we separate our metrics between women and ethnic minorities. Also for ethinic minorities we provide a further breakdown to ensure that various ethnicities are not consolidated under one umbrella.
The days are gone where leaders can be “indifferent” or silent about social issues such as denouncing racism. We have reached a tipping point. As leaders we must be a force for change by challenging existing conditions and using our influence to shape the future we want to see.