Tag Archive for: inclusion

How the Rooney Rule Can Advance Equal Opportunity

Author: Cyrus Mehri

As football fans gear up to watch the Rams and the Bengals clash in the Super Bowl this weekend, there’s another showdown happening off the field: the debate on how to best combat racial discrimination in the NFL. 

It’s a debate that has implications that extend beyond the football field and into board rooms across corporate America. Football, like many other industries, faces a glaring problem: despite diversity and inclusion efforts, many companies have failed to adequately increase racial diversity in their senior ranks.

The NFL’s hiring practices have come under intense scrutiny after a racial discrimnation lawsuit by Coach Brian Flores. Specifically, some advocates have called on the NFL to abolish the Rooney Rule, a rule that requires NFL teams to conduct in-person interviews with a diverse slate of candidates when hiring head coaches and general managers. 

Versions of the Rooney Rule have been adopted across many industries, so this discourse has significant implications and represents an ongoing debate: how do companies best establish equitable and inclusive practices that will increase diversity? 

As one of the creators of the Rooney Rule, I’m intimately familiar with this debate. I, along with late Johnnie L. Cochran Jr, advocated for the creation of the Rooney Rule starting in 2002 in response to the dearth of Black coaches in the NFL. And the Rooney Rule has had success.

Before the Rooney Rule, there were only a handful of Black head coaches in the NFL’s 80 year history. In the 19 years since the creation of the Rooney Rule, a person of color has been selected as an NFL head coach 27 times, including twice this month. That’s infinitely better than it was before, but it’s also significantly below where it should be. 

Clearly, the NFL still has a lot of progress to make. But abolishing the Rooney Rule would be a huge backslide. The Rooney Rule has taken the NFL from an abysmal situation to a better one, and it has the potential to truly transform the NFL — and other industries — if utilized in the right way. 

In my work across companies and across industries as a civil rights litigator, consultant and a reformer, I have learned a number of lessons on how the NFL, and other industries, can do the Rooney Rule the right way: 

Accountability Matters: First and foremost, accountability is key. This is the NFL’s current biggest area for improvement. In the early years of the Rooney Rule, the NFL strongly enforced the rule, but recently, it has turned a blind eye to blatant violations. No policy can be successful without enforcement.

Diverse Slates of Finalists, Not Diverse Pools of Applicants: Saying you have a “Rooney Rule” isn’t enough. Several major companies such as Facebook have established weak or symbolic versions of the Rooney Rule, like having a diverse pool of applicants while saying nothing about the finalists. The Rooney Rule requires interviewing a diverse slate of candidates for the final round. Don’t be fooled by what some companies say — if it’s not a finalist interview slate, it’s not likely to move the needle.

Address Bias in the Pipeline: There’s a bias in the pattern of NFL teams excluding coaches of color from the QB position coach and offensive coordinator, which results in those coaches also being excluded from the head coach pipeline. Programs dedicated to developing a diverse talent pipeline, such as the Arizona Cardinals QB Coach fellowship, and strong recruitment programs can help avoid a situation where companies claim there aren’t any outstanding candidates of color. 

Use Multiple Candidates from Underrepresented Groups: A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that when there are two or more candidates of color, a candidate of color is over 190 times more likely to be hired. The Rooney Rule has been updated to include multiple underrepresented candidates in the final interview pool, and with that modification, there are signs of success with women and people of color gaining ground as team presidents and other key positions. Any company using a Rooney Rule type policy should do the same. 

Start with Leadership, Then Expand: Companies should be strategic about which jobs should have a diverse interview slate requirement – starting with the key leadership positions where they are less likely to have diversity now and where the impact of each hire is greatest. At first, the NFL kept it just to Head Coach, then added General Manager. Now it extends throughout the League office and the Club levels to all senior leaders and now coordinators and it is reaping the benefits in many key areas. Changing how a company selects its leaders — and who they select – creates critical buy-in at the top and establishes this as part of organizational values.   

Use Diverse Interview Panels: Many companies use diverse interview panels as part of the decision making process with great success. The NFL has not done so and should.

Use Better Selection Criteria: Diversity is stymied unless decision-makers expand their talent pool by expanding the criteria used for a key position. There are a lot of skill sets and experiences that can lead to success, even if they’re not the ones traditionally used to fill a position. Continuing to select the talents a company already has actually reduces the overall quality of its hires, especially if the criteria have not been reconsidered recently. Use an open mind and open up the process. 

Use Common Sense Guidelines: The first year of the Rooney Rule, Jerry Jones interviewed a white candidate for two days in person and a Black candidate by phone for just half an hour. We called on the League to develop common sense guidelines and they did. There is still room for improvement to ensure that interviews are being held as genuine interviews, not just to tick boxes. 

Whether in the NFL, or in companies large or small, we can achieve a level playing field and an inclusive economy if we stick to the principles of fair competition and implement the Rooney Rule the right way. 

 

Photo credit: REUTERS / Alamy

 

Building a Culture Code to Promote Respect in the Workplace

Authors: Sarah Crawford and Christian Andres Alfaro

A strong culture codewhich alternatively may be called a code of conduct or civility codesets expectations about how employees should interact in order to create a healthy workplace culture. A culture code can help to foster a safe and constructive working environment in which all employees feel accepted and supported to better serve the mission of the company. A code also bolsters accountability at all levels within the organization. 

A culture code should communicate the company’s mission, vision, goals, values, and norms. The code also can build community and describe the spirit and traditions of the organization through quotes, lighthearted anecdotes, and stories. For example, the code could tell the story behind the founding of the company, stories of individual customers and clients, or of accomplishments both big and small.

A culture code establishes expectations for employees to be respectful and accepting of others who may come from different walks of life and have different lifestyles and beliefs. A code can set expectations about positive behaviors by encouraging employees to act as allies to confront bias, to serve as a mentor, to utilize best practices to promote diversity in hiring, etc.

The code also should provide examples of bias and behavior that will not be allowed or tolerated in the workplace, such as microaggressions, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. The code should address behavior directed toward anyone, regardless of whether they are colleagues, supervisors, junior staff, interns, volunteers, independent contractors, customers, clients, etc. The code should set out policies and processes for individuals to bring forward concerns and formal complaints and identify key personnel to handle those concerns and complaints

The code should address conduct that occurs not only in the workplace, but also offsite and online, for example expected behavior at conferences and respectful communication on social media and text messages. The code should also address conduct during and outside of regular work hours, for example conduct at a work-related social event or with a colleague after normal working hours. 

During the process of drafting a culture code, employees should be involved in providing input and feedback on the content. This may be accomplished by convening a working group that includes employees representing various levels, departments, job functions, and locations. This is particularly useful to identify key concerns, gaps, and solutions for the organization. The code should be written in plain language that is easily understood and uses examples tailored to the workplace. 

Leadership should review, approve, and endorse the code before it is finalized. An introduction from the head of the organization can communicate the importance of the code and the core values to the day-to-day operations and to make clear that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. It is also critical for those at the top of the organization to model the positive behaviors described in the code.

When rolling out a new culture code, employees should participate in interactive training to review the content, to reinforce how the expectations about behavior relate to the organization’s mission and core values, to teach skills, and to provide opportunity for meaningful discussion. The code, policies and procedures, contact information for key personnel to handle complaints and concerns, and any other related information should be easily accessible to all employees, either online or in writing. 

To reinforce the principles on an ongoing basis, the code should be integrated with the onboarding process and regular training programs. Employees could be asked to sign a statement that they have read and agree to follow the code. A poster in the breakroom could highlight the key aspects of the code, such as core values, expected behaviors, and contact information for key personnel to handle concerns and complaints. At events, remarks and written materials could include a reminder of behaviors that are encouraged and behaviors that will not be tolerated, consistent with the culture code. 

Building a strong workplace culture requires the efforts of every employee in the organization. By setting expectations about employee behavior, a culture code can provide a powerful tool to promote a respectful workplace that is key to fulfilling the mission of the organization.

Resources and Sample Codes:

Racial Equity Assessment Can Change Your Company for the Better – If You Get It Right

Authors: Pamela Coukos and Ahmmad Brown

If 2020 was the year of big, visible corporate commitments to racial equity, 2021 is the opportunity to make sure those commitments deliver on their promises.

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the increased impact of the Movement for Black Lives, companies promised to take meaningful action and deploy substantial financial resources to address racial inequity and injustice. This spring BlackRock responded to shareholder advocacy and agreed to undertake a comprehensive racial equity audit of internal structures and policies, and the external impact of their products and services. Last fall, JP Morgan made a $30 million commitment to advance racial equity. In the technology industry, at least a dozen companies have made commitments to racial equity specifically. McKinsey estimates that organizations have made as much $200B in investments to support racial justice efforts since May 2020.

Although public commitments to support racial equity and justice are laudable, there are three ways these programs can fail to live up to their promises. 

First, vague appeals to morality and justice are not enough – an organization needs a clear reason to take action and a defined goal they seek to achieve. Otherwise their response may be more symbol than substance.

Second, organizations must establish accountable, transparent structures and processes to evaluate their actions and ensure that they are on track to meet those goals. Lack of follow through can erode trust and credibility among key stakeholders and undermine the benefits of the work they seek to accomplish.

Third, many organizations take the easier path of surface-level questions and avoid deeper issues of racial justice, hostile culture, and structural barriers to equity. Expanding the representation of people of color in candidate pools and recruitment pipelines is important, but cannot build sustainable change without tackling the fundamental question of whether the organization’s core structures and processes are equitable and inclusive for current and future Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) employees and other stakeholders. 

Racial equity assessment is a set of tools that addresses these pitfalls and can increase the chances that commitments to racial equity generate deep and lasting success for the organization and its people. 

An assessment helps keep a program on the path of substance over symbols. It starts by identifying the organization’s goals, in order to decide how to measure progress and evaluate impact.

A well-designed assessment ensures accountability through key practices that build trust and ensure credibility including:

  • an external independent assessment team;

  • an objective and neutral inquiry process based on a sound methodology;

  • appropriate transparency to all stakeholders;

  • a demonstration that the information sharing process is safe and can be trusted.

Finally, an experienced and effective assessment team will encourage clients to go deeper, and are equipped to evaluate structures and practices, not just outcomes.

And they will pay off in actionable recommendations, strategic plans to meet important goals, and all the benefits of inclusive and equitable organizations — more innovative products and services, a more engaged and productive workforce, stronger and more sustainable financial performance and most importantly, the trust that comes from knowing an organization’s practices live up to its values. 

Customers, investors and employees who value racial equity have growing expectations of the companies they do business with. Showing that commitments are meaningful and have an impact is the best way to meet this moment.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Our audits and assessments apply the best thinking on how to promote gender, race and other forms of equity in your pay practices. Our robust quantitative and qualitative reviews go beyond basic compliance to align effective compensation strategy with mission and values. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

About the authors:
Ahmmad Brown is a Senior Advisor at Working IDEAL, Executive Director and co-founder of EBDI Consulting, and currently completing doctoral work in organizational behavior at Harvard.
Pamela Coukos, JD, PhD, is CEO and co-founder of Working IDEAL

10 Steps Toward Equal Pay: A Call to Action for the Biden Administration

March 24 will mark another Equal Pay Day, which signifies how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Pay gaps for women of color are even greater. Without decisive action, these persistent pay gaps will not close for decades. To move the dial on equal pay, the Biden Administration should take these critical steps:  

1. Support passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was first introduced in 2014, is long overdue. This legislation would prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss pay with coworkers and eliminate the perpetuation of pay discrimination caused by employers’ consideration of prior salary. The law would make it easier to challenge systemic pay discrimination through class action lawsuits, require legitimate, job-related reasons for pay disparities, and provide the same remedies that are available to employees who file similar civil rights claims.

 2. Reinstitute the collection and analysis of pay data.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should reinstitute pay data collection in line with revisions made to the EEO-1 Survey during the Obama Administration. Pay data should be used to identify significant problems and target enforcement efforts, considering specific challenges and different approaches in particular industries. Aggregate pay data should be published, in keeping with existing practices to identify trends within industries and for particular demographics.

3. Ensure equal pay in federal contracting.

The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) should take critical steps to ensure equal pay by federal contractors. OFCCP could issue executive orders or initiate rulemaking to promote equal pay in a variety of ways. OFCCP could require federal contractors to include compensation analyses in affirmative action plans, publish pay ranges on job postings, include an equal pay certification in affirmative action plans, or make public disclosures about aggregate pay information. Contractors also could be prohibited from considering salary history in setting pay.

4. Require public companies to disclose gender and race pay ratios.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can build in sunlight by requiring public companies to disclose gender and race pay ratios and other compensation data on an annual basis. The SEC already requires many publicly held large companies to report on the pay ratio between the CEO’s annual earnings and the median annual compensation for all employees. Such disclosures would empower investors and customers to make informed choices about where to spend their money. The SEC also could provide guidance to companies regarding voluntary reporting on pay equity to investors.

5. Promote best practices and compliance with employers. 

Private sector employers play a critical role in reducing the pay gap, and there are many ways that they can and should take action to ensure equal pay. The Administration should work with high road employers to promote best practices, building on commitments made by employers that signed the Equal Pay Pledge during the Obama Administration. The Equal Pay Pledge includes a commitment to  conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations; reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers; embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives; and pledging to take these steps as well as identify and promote other best practices that will close the national wage gap to ensure fundamental fairness for all workers.

The Administration should re-engage with Employers for Pay Equity, a consortium of nearly 40 leading employers committed to collaborating to eliminate the national pay and leadership gaps. These employers come together to share best practices in compensation, hiring, promotion, and career development as well as develop strategies to support other companies’ efforts in this regard.  

6. Conduct outreach to human resources organizations, job search websites, shareholders, and investment firms.

The Administration also should engage with management-side organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management and job search websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Monster, Google for Jobs, etc. Many of these organizations are taking action on pay equity. This collaboration could promote best practices such as encouraging employers to publish pay ranges, discouraging employers from requesting pay history information, and minimizing discrimination in salary negotiation.

Shareholders also have mounted efforts to request public companies to report the median gender pay gap, equal pay policies, and reputational, competitive, and operational risks, including risks related to recruiting and retaining female talent. Shareholder resolutions have helped to promote pay equity in many sectors and leading corporations. 

7. Reinstitute an equal pay task force to ensure coordination and enforcement of the law.

The Administration should ensure interagency coordination by reconstituting an equal pay task force, including the EEOC, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, the Office of Personnel Management, the Government and Accountability Office, and the Securities Exchange Commission. Interagency coordination on outreach, education, and enforcement efforts will maximize the effectiveness of existing authorities. The task force should meet regularly and establish a detailed strategic plan with accountability measures to adhere to established timetables and deadlines for implementation. Each member agency should convene internal working groups focused on promoting equal pay through outreach, education, and enforcement.

8. Ensure that the federal government leads the way as a model employer.

The federal government wields tremendous influence as the employer of millions of workers across the country. The Administration should continue to study causes of the pay gap in the federal workforce, including the impact on women of color, as well as pay gaps within different agencies, industries, and types of jobs. The Administration should identify problematic practices that perpetuate pay discrimination, such as use of prior salary in requesting an exemption to the usual starting salary. The Administration should also implement promising practices that combat pay discrimination. Cutting edge innovations in the private sector should be adopted in the public sector. The Administration should consider implementing bold changes.

9. Reinstate the protections that were provided by the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order was rescinded by the Trump Administration and has since rolled into the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act of 2020, which would require prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and give agencies guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts.

10. Issue reports from the National Council of Economic Advisers

Issues of gender and racial equity should be a focus of the Council of Economic Advisers. The Council should issue briefs and reports about trends, causes, and effects of the pay gap, as the Council did during the Obama administration.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Our audits and assessments apply the best thinking on how to promote gender, race and other forms of equity in your pay practices. Our robust quantitative and qualitative reviews go beyond basic compliance to align effective compensation strategy with mission and values. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Author: Sarah Crawford

Best Practices to Increase Engagement, Productivity, Retention, and Innovation | Excerpts from Diversity, Inc.

It’s been over a year since noted journalist and scholar Pamela Newkirk published Diversity, Inc., an essential account of the promises many companies made to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion, the billions spent on programs and initiatives over five decades, and the huge gap that still remains in fulfilling those promises. This acclaimed book, which Time Magazine declared a “must-read”, is a deep study of how the most popular responses to calls for justice and equity at work have not only failed to make progress, but even led to declining numbers of Black leaders in Corporate America, a continued racial wealth gap and pay gap, and persistent discrimination in the workplace. Her book also highlights the rare examples of successful progress and the lessons from social science about what actually works to move the needle on workplace equality. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder last summer, companies again, as they have many times in the past, made statements and pledges to do more. While some of the responses are more symbolic, others have greater potential for meaningful impact – from shifts in corporate giving and community support to belatedly addressing longstanding criticisms of images, names and branding, recognizing the need to invest in changing systems and practices, and making concrete commitments to hiring benchmarks or other specific and potentially meaningful policy changes. But as Professor Newkirk shows, Corporate America’s track record on racial justice is not promising. Just as longstanding approaches to sexual harassment were more symbolic compliance than meaningful intervention, the world of diversity consulting is a story of as much as $8 billion a year spent with little to show for it.  So what can companies do that can actually make a difference?

In the new paperback edition of Diversity Inc., Professor Newkirk included a series of best practices provided by Working IDEAL — ways that companies can make good on their promises by applying best practices based on social science research and our experience with organizations large and small across multiple industries. 

Here are a few of those recommended practices that Working IDEAL recommends to our clients to hire and retain great people and increase engagement, productivity, retention, and innovation.  Want the whole list?  Get the book!

Expand Recruitment Through Intentional Outreach. For example, work to build relationships with programs in your field, industry and community to access talent, and then tailor recruitment plans to identify the best sources of diverse candidates for specific jobs or groups of jobs. 

Identify and Remove Barriers in Hiring, starting with how you identify and evaluate skills and criteria. Education and specialized training requirements can serve as unnecessary barriers to increasing diversity in key entry-level and higher-level positions, especially when there are equivalent or alternative skills and experience that may add value, or the potential to invest in on-the-job training.

Institute a “Rooney Rule” diverse slate policy but also take steps to ensure its success. This means defining diverse slates to require consideration of multiple women and people of color, and providing the training and tools for hiring managers and holding them accountable to follow the policy. 

Make information on pay practices transparent and accessible to employees.  Instead of guessing about what candidates will accept, or trying to underpay those with less market power or information, affirmatively provide starting salary information to job candidates.  Ensure employees can freely share information about pay — in most cases it’s legally required.

Measure your results like any business process, auditing your hiring, pay and promotion practices — and your culture and developing metrics to track them going forward. You can use anonymous tools like surveys, and internal discussions across functions and levels, to identify issues and source responses. Track attrition and understand why some groups of employees are more likely to leave. And make sure to regularly share all that information with leaders and decision-makers and use it to hold them accountable. 

Don’t ignore problem behavior. Have safe and accessible options to report, address, and resolve workplace problems, and make sure you act quickly to address toxic or harmful workplace culture at any level of the organization. 

Give people in your organization the power to make change.  If you have named an internal DEI leader or officer, make sure they have the information, access, and power needed to successfully carry out their responsibilities. If you are using an internal committee, resource group or affinity group to support and engage employees, provide the resources and processes that empower them to deliver meaningful value and support to leadership.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Author: Pam Coukos

How the SEC Can Harness Shareholder Power to Support Racial and Gender Equity Through a DEI Index

On its very first day, the Biden-Harris Administration made racial justice and equity, and principles of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity, top priorities on its agenda.  The first of the 17 Day One Executive Orders committed to advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities across the federal government.  The EO requires a review of federal programs and regulatory processes to incorporate equity principles – while rescinding the Trump Administration’s anti-DEI Executive Order. It also includes improvements to data collection, which is a key practice of accountability. Other actions include:

The Administration could bolster this by leveraging the SEC’s  power to regulate publicly traded companies. A Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Index could harness shareholder power to ensure our publicly-traded companies make good on their their commitments to equality. A standard set of disclosures about hiring, representation, leadership and pay would empower customers and investors to make informed choices about where to spend their money. Workers could use this information to find jobs at places that offer true opportunity for all. Companies would compete to show their progress and we could all have a clearer sense of who is living up to their stated values. Competition would be the engine behind genuine, long overdue progress.

All large publicly traded companies should disclose standard information on key measures of DEI performance.

First, demonstrate Board Accountability for DEI, by sharing Board representation, whether the Board uses key best practices to foster diverse membership, and whether the Board provides effective oversight of People and Culture programs to address workplace harassment and promote inclusive culture.

Next, provide data on Leadership Diversity, including how the top 200 highest compensated individuals identify (by gender, race, ethnicity, and if available, by disability and sexual orientation).

Third, disclose Workforce Diversity and Pay Equity metrics, including companywide EEO-1 representation data and standard pay equity benchmarks similar to those already reported in the UK, and corporate performance on its own diversity metrics over time. 

Lastly, share progress on Inclusive Workplace Practices, including whether the company has developed and implemented key best practices to address workplace harassment and promote inclusive culture.

We already recommended that the SEC impose this type of requirement, but there are plenty of other ways this could come about. Indexes could make this a listing requirement. Institutional investors could use it as a factor for their portfolio decisions and federal, state and local agencies could use it as a benchmark in awarding contracts. And companies could voluntarily commit to these disclosures as a way to demonstrate leadership. 

The biggest winners will be the companies themselves. The research we shared with the SEC supports the view that diverse teams can provide key benefits, like increasing productivity and innovation. Strengthening DEI can lead to stronger and more sustainable financial performance.

Indeed, that is exactly the reason that this information is material to shareholders. The traditional view of shareholder disclosure is only aimed at information relevant to short-term shareholder gain. But the modern view includes any matters material to other stakeholder long term interests including investing in employees and fostering diversity, inclusion, dignity and respect, an approach championed by the Business Roundtable.

Despite the benefits, too many companies have not made DEI enough of a priority. Reviewing a typical corporate annual report or 10-K will show frequent touting of corporate physical assets, new product lines, mergers and acquisitions, but see very few, if any, words touting new investments in people and culture, or new efforts to develop, retain and strengthen the workforce. Most annual reports to shareholders virtually ignore the companies’ most important asset: its workforce.

We learned that to create change in a company, someone has to own and drive the change, which means the Board should have a specific subcommittee focused on oversight of People and Culture programs, with regular reporting from management on goals and measures. Through increased transparency of key measures of leadership and workforce DEI, we can use the market to move stalled progress on glass ceilings and wage gaps for people of color as well as for women. 

We want to motivate companies to invest in diversity and inclusion, people and culture, growth and retention. It’s good business that can yield an enormous competitive advantage and allow companies to make good on their commitments to equity.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Authors: Pam Coukos and Cyrus Mehri

A Just and Inclusive Workplace is Essential to Sustain Our Democracy

In 2017, the increased public visibility of the #MeToo movement made clear we were not doing enough to make the workplace safe from sexual harassment. In 2020, #BlackLivesMatter organizing similarly forced a broader and overdue reckoning with how deeply racial inequity runs in many institutions — including our nation’s workplaces, which need to be more inclusive.

The images of the first week of 2021 – a Confederate flag carried through the halls of Congress, people in the crowd breaking into the Capitol wearing shirts emblazoned with slogans about genocide of the Jewish people, a Black police officer against a mostly white crowd of insurrectionists – reinforce the urgency of our work to build a just and inclusive society.

As Cyrus said in December, in a recently-published interview in the Wall Street Journal, “Our democracy is not sustainable if don’t embrace equal opportunity.” 

But to do that we need truly innovative approaches. We must expand our thinking about what the barriers are and how to break through them.  As we welcome a new Administration that has committed to make racial justice and economic empowerment top priorities, and a new Congress that can move this agenda forward, we want to highlight some key innovations in government policy and workplace practices that can have the biggest impact.

1. Have the Security and Exchange Commission require transparency on diversity and inclusion. All large, publicly traded companies should make standard disclosures about hiring, representation, leadership and pay. As Cyrus explained to the Journal:

Merge SEC disclosures—annual reports, 10Ks—with advancing equal opportunity. For example, require companies to disclose race and gender data for their top 200 highest-paid employees. It’s a way to understand where the glass ceiling is. Do it by total compensation so it includes stock options. It’ll tell you who’s in the decision-making pool of the company. 

And as we explained in our 2016 proposal to the SEC, this empowers investors, workers, customers and community stakeholders  to make informed choices about where to spend their money.

2. Make your default hiring practices more inclusive, by ensuring you interview multiple women and people of color.  Cyrus explains why this disrupts default assumptions:

If you have one woman versus two women on a slate, when you go to two women, it’s 79 times more likely that a woman will be selected [than if there was only one woman in the pool]. When you go from one to two people of color, the number goes up like 190 times. If there are multiple diverse candidates, they’re multiple times more likely to be hired. Why is that? When you have isolated, coveted jobs, you need to do something to change the norms because the presumptions and stereotypes are so deeply rooted. 

Congress can lead the way by adopting the Rankin-Chisholm rule for its own hiring (a “Rooney Rule” for the Representatives), and by encouraging members to practice #CampaignEquity when they run for re-election.  

3. Make our nation’s first civil rights law a more effective tool for racial justice, so it can work to close the racial wealth gap, ensure real equal access to credit, capital, employment and economic participation. Amending Section 1981 would enable it to live up to its promise.

4. Understand how building racial justice at work includes ensuring fair pay. As Pam shared in an online presentation last fall:

Make equity a top priority when you make decisions, take actions, design programs and measure results. Gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, or any aspect of your identity should not determine your outcomes in the workplace – including pay.

The Administration can do its part by reinstating and expanding pay data collection and reinvigorating equal pay enforcement – and by ensuring that we do not just talk about the gender pay gap. We must recognize and address pay gaps based on race and ethnicity and the particular impact of both on women of color.

5. Promote an inclusive workplace culture free of harassment, bias and discrimination – starting with the people who do the people’s work in our federal and state governments.  Assessing culture, ensuring inclusive policies and practices, and acting quickly to address disrespectful behavior before it becomes toxic should be standard practice. President Biden should consider an Executive Order directing all federal agencies to adopt effective initiatives to promote equal employment opportunity and inclusive workplaces, and revoking a series of anti-DEI actions from the fall.

At the end of the day, Cyrus’ observation from December of 2020 seems even more true in January of 2021: 

There is a moral case for diversity and inclusion. And there’s a business case: long-term value is tied to diversity and diversity is tied to innovation. But the last few years have told us there is a democracy case, too.

 

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Authors: Pam Coukos and Cyrus Mehri

How to Build an IDEAL Campaign Workplace – So You Can Win with Integrity

We are just two weeks out from Election Day, and campaigns everywhere are in the final stages of getting out the vote.  It’s an intense time for campaign managers and their staff, who are working almost around the clock to bring their candidate successfully across the finish line.

How these last couple weeks play out could depend a lot on campaign equity, and how much a campaign values and supports the people they hired months ago to carry them to victory. On those campaigns where leadership has focused from the start on building a strong and inclusive culture — and aligning their workplace practices with the values they are fighting for on the trail — that final push can be a time of solidarity and dedication. But where leaders have enabled or ignored a toxic work culture, or simply neglected to establish the basic operational practices necessary to a functioning workplace, the strain of going all out to win can be a breaking point.

This is what we have learned in our work this cycle advising political campaigns and advocacy organizations: a commitment to campaign equity is a critical component of a winning strategy. Hiring and empowering a diverse staff can generate more innovative tactics and better advice on reaching all voters. Ensuring equity in your pay and practices can simplify your operation and increase staff dedication. An inclusive culture sustains the people power you will need to carry you through the constant challenges of a campaign environment.

But even more importantly, these approaches can help you win with integrity. If you are a progressive candidate, or a leader on a progressive campaign, it is not enough to fight for good policies and to champion racial and gender justice in public. You also need to make sure your own house is in order, and that you have the policies and practices that ensure the safety of your staff and volunteers and promote equity and inclusion in all your in-person and remote workspaces.

We put all of these ideas together in a #CampaignEquity Handbook. This resource for campaign professionals includes strategy checklists, sample policies and plenty of links to the research and experience that backs them up as best practices. It includes advice on building a harassment-free workplace, staffed by great hires and sustained by fair pay and a safe and inclusive culture.

Working IDEAL Campaign Equity Toolkit checklist excerpt

Checklist excerpt from the #CampaignEquity toolkit. Click on image to learn more.

When campaign leadership comes together after Election Day to understand what worked and what didn’t – the factors that carried them to victory and should inform their transition plans – we hope this can inform those conversations.  And as the next cycle begins, we believe this will be an essential resource.

Campaigns are workplaces too. Let’s put an end to the myth that overwork and toxic work environments just go with the territory and that diversity, equity and inclusion are just the extras you hope to get to at some point. Investing in #CampaignEquity can increase your chances of winning, and of doing it based on the values that brought you to this work in the first place.

DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT (PDF)


Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay.
Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Authors: Pam Coukos and Peach Soltis

How Your Company Can Take Action to Close the Wage Gap

In order to advance pay equity, it’s important to adopt an “equity first” mindset. Make equity a top priority when you make decisions, take actions, design programs and measure results. Gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, or any aspect of your identity should not determine your outcomes in the workplace – including pay. 

Our co-founder and CEO, Pam Coukos, shares her insights about how to close the wage gap:

Here are three ways to put equity first:

  • Remove barriers: Do your due diligence. Go looking for the places where equity gets out of balance and bias can operate. Do you value new untried talent over the committed and valuable people who have been delivering the work? Do you rely on objective, measurable and unbiased factors to set pay? 
  • Change norms: Justifying or excusing a difference in pay isn’t good enough. Start with the principle that you pay the same for the same kind of work, the same kind of experience, the same level of responsibility. Hold everyone accountable for making fair, consistent and equitable decisions.
  • Embrace transparency: Secrecy can’t protect you in a world where pay transparency is a legal right and a cultural reality for large parts of your workforce. Look at your data and pay practices with the assumption that are or will be public – and if they don’t measure up, take action. Share your progress to build trust in your workplace and in the marketplace.

Prioritizing pay equity is the right thing to do. It’s the law. Also, it can make your pay program better, cheaper and more efficient. It can drive innovation and provide a competitive advantage when hiring, retaining and supporting a truly diverse workforce.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

10 Ways to Foster an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Many employers understand the importance of assessing their workplace culture and the need to promote inclusion. An inclusive workplace culture offers benefits to both employers and employees by fostering engagement, productivity, retention, and innovation. In an inclusive workplace, all employees are treated with respect and have an opportunity to contribute. An inclusive workplace accepts and values individual differences in race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, and disability. 

By contrast, exclusion in the workplace leaves workers feeling marginalized and devalued. Disrespectful behavior that goes unchecked can lead to a toxic environment, particularly when workers do not have sufficient options to report, address, and resolve workplace problems. This dysfunction in the workplace may cause talented employees to leave the organization. Exclusion can take many forms. Some employers fail to convey a commitment to organizational values. Employers may fail to set clear expectations about appropriate conduct. Gaps in policies, benefits, technology, and training can exacerbate internal problems. Employers may be unaware of problems with the workplace culture because they fail to seek feedback. 

To avoid these problems, employers can take concrete steps to promote inclusivity in meaningful ways. 

  1. Lead from the top. Leaders must visibly model respectful behavior and practice organizational values. Managers should promote inclusion at all levels and across all departments.
  2. Put clear expectations in writing. Employers can establish a code of conduct and recommit to organizational values. The strategic plan should promote inclusion, and the employer should periodically evaluate progress toward meeting stated goals. Job descriptions and performance evaluations can address responsibilities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
  3. Seek input and value contributions from diverse talent. The organization must go beyond simply ensuring that it employs a diverse workforce. Everyone should have a seat at the table. Seeking out diverse perspectives helps to amplify marginalized voices. Working groups and teams should include a diverse cross-section of the workforce. 
  4. Assess the culture regularly, accept critical feedback, and take action to address concerns. Anonymous surveys, focus groups, and informal discussions can help to identify concerns about the workplace climate and potential solutions. Employers should ensure that a diverse cross-section of the workforce is involved in identifying problems and implementing responses. Inclusion should be a regular focus of discussion.
  5. Ensure that employees have accessible options to report, address, and resolve workplace problems. Managers may not be aware of problems that go unreported. Employees must have trusted and effective channels to report concerns.
  6. Ensure accountability. Employers must act quickly to address problems at all levels within the workplace.
  7. Update policies to use inclusive language and make the workplace more welcoming. For example, employers should review benefits policies to ensure equity for LGBTQ+ employees and offer opportunities for employees to provide the pronouns they use. 
  8. Build a culture of accessibility for applicants and employees with disabilities. Employees with disabilities should have access to any needed technology or other accommodations, but don’t wait to be asked. Make accessibility a regular part of planning for meetings, events and activities, and standard workplace practices.  
  9. Foster inclusivity in informal situations. Workers may feel excluded when it comes to social situations at the lunch table, at happy hours, or even in casual conversations. Employers can seek to disrupt office cliques through team building opportunities.
  10. Offer training that provides tools and skills to address problematic behavior. Employers should move away from compliance-focused training to ongoing and regular education that equips workers with the knowledge and skills to take action. For example, bystander intervention training can equip workers with methods to act as an ally in support of a colleague who faces harassment or bullying.

By taking concrete steps to promote an inclusive workplace culture, employers can build a stronger workforce.

Working IDEAL provides trusted and innovative advice on inclusive workplaces, diverse talent, and fair pay. Contact us to learn more about the services we offer.

Author: Sarah Crawford