Joanna Coles, chief content officer of Hearst Magazines, gave her thoughts on workplace diversity in the midst of the #MeToo movement at the 2018 Women in the World summit. Her solution to a better working environment is simple: Companies must make the right hires that lend to greater diversity. This movement starts with leadership at the top.
Leadership must embrace workplace diversity by exemplifying the cause. When there are more diverse voices in the upper echelon of employers, people in the lower levels feel empowered to come forward to speak out about abuse, sexual harassment and bullying. The reason is an employee feels as if her voice is heard if someone like herself is in a leadership role. A woman is more likely to talk to a female executive about sexual harassment regarding a male co-worker. To create diverse leadership, companies need to start making the right hires.
Executives must support a concerted effort to have a more inclusive and diverse atmosphere. Embracing workplace diversity isn't just hiring a few people and then forgetting about it. This diversity push should be widespread, for the long-term and part of an employer's strategic goals for gradual growth and prosperity. Once someone in a visible leadership position starts hiring in a diverse way, teams should automatically start appearing more diverse as hires trickle down from the top.
How to Manage Workplace Diversity the Right Way
Coles tapped into her experience as the editor of Cosmopolitan to say how she hired a senior marketing editor. She flat-out refused to accept a list of top candidates that was not racially diverse. Her hire was an African-American woman, and that hire, in turn, led to an increase in diversity among her staff. Coles wanted to diversify her staff because it allowed Cosmopolitan to reach a wider audience.
In the same way leaders must encourage workplace diversity, men must help create a gender-equal workplace. Without the support of the majority, diversity initiatives falter because then you narrow your focus too much into one concept. A range of diverse voices in the office better serve a customer base, which in turn increases profits.
Tie diversity to bonuses. When top candidates stay for a certain length of time and drive profits up, have contractual bonuses for people who opened up the new networks that led to diverse hires. Bonuses encourage people to look harder for candidates of various backgrounds.
Managing Diversity the Wrong Way
Correct hiring for diversity means finding top candidates who represent a variety of cultural backgrounds. Any HR manager who says the company cannot find the right mix of diverse candidates simply is not looking hard enough or in the right places. A lack of quality candidates does not indicate that you should hire a diverse staff just for the sake of having diverse employees.
Do not resort to token hiring. In other words, do not hire someone simply because that person is not in the same ethnic group as the majority. This simply demeans the inclusive process and does not foster an actual diverse environment.
Workplace diversity should be about embracing a range of ideologies, thoughts and innovations. The sooner a company onboards the right talent with the right amount of diversity, the sooner profitability and stability improve.
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