Diversity and inclusion has become an important differentiator for companies. According to a Glassdoor survey, two-thirds of people consider diversity important when deciding where to work. Most companies today are addressing diversity and inclusion in some fashion. Some publically declare their commitment and seek accountability from third party organizations that measure the data. Others are quietly running training programs to change their culture. The challenge for a potential employee is to figure out which companies are truly committed.
For answers, I reached out to Sam Murray, Managing Principal at OneDigital, which provides HR solutions to business.
Bonnie Marcus: How many companies do you think approach diversity seriously? How many are really invested in learning how to change the culture?
Sam Murray: Probably somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of companies just check the box. In the past, the requirements to have trainings on harassment and discrimination, for example, were technologically simplified into software programs that you just distributed it to your employees. You check the box when they completed it. And then, it really wasn’t taken in as a call to a level of responsibility that the corporation would have or an organization would have. What we’re seeing though now is more companies are asking the question, ‘What do we need to do? I don’t want to be one of those companies that on the front page of the newspaper-kind of a thing. So I would say that the needle is starting to move. And never before have corporations been so poised to be the leader of social change. So I think it’s an interesting moment in time for companies to hopefully embrace a level of corporate responsibility that they haven’t really looked at or taken on before.
Marcus: What are the companies that are really committed to diversity doing differently?
Murray: They have a more top-down approach. They don’t just distribute materials, policies for everybody to sign or to view on the screen. But they really work with their management team, their upper management executives. And there’s a lot of discussion. We see them doing more retreats, more offsite kinds of digging into, ‘Who are we as a company?’ They tend to read current management books and distribute them and talk about them. There’s just a whole different level of commitment to making sure that they are a healthy company. And those are the ones that are asking us as an HR consulting group, ‘How can you help us? What can you do? What kind of training should we be doing for our people? What are you seeing other companies doing?’ They’re asking good questions.
Marcus: What are some of the things that an individual can look for that would show the level of commitment a company has towards diversity and inclusion? What are the signs that a company is not just paying lip service?
Murray: That’s a good question. We generally see it at the top. You see it in comments from employees on exit interviews that the company is very inauthentic. From an HR standpoint, the evidence that you would see of a healthy company vs. one that’s just paying lip service would be the difference between the kinds of claims that they had. When we do assessments, we take a look at what the past claims have been against the company; how frequently their management team meets and how frequently they have staff meetings. Because hopefully that creates open discussion. Look at what kind of training they bring in. What kind of speakers they bring in to augment their staff? There’s a kind of an authenticity that you see when you’re doing as assessment of a company by all the behaviors that they have. It’s not just bringing pizza in for lunch.