As the future of work evolves, companies need to follow suit to stand a real chance at competing adequately in the global market. One way to gain a competitive advantage is to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a legitimate priority.
People want to work for an organization where they have a sense of belonging, feel represented, and of course, included. With the rapid growth of startups, employees have more choices than ever before.
LinkedIn has done a good job of being champions of this cause, as evident in their 2021 Workforce Diversity Report. Here are several things that stood out to me while going through the report:
1) Having a vision
Understanding what diversity and inclusion look like for your company will help map out a course of action to bring this vision to life.
LinkedIn envisions "a workforce that reflects the communities we serve, and diversity, inclusion, and belonging remain our number one talent priority."
There is a general temptation to follow the crowd, and because diversity has increasingly become a corporate buzzword, the tendency for organizations to jump on the wagon is high.
Yes, we all know that inclusion and diversity in the workplace are essential and needed, but why? Answering "why?" with clarity stirs up insightful thoughts that will aid in defining a clear success path in these areas.
When dealing with Human Resources, the work of establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion, is so much more than filling quotas and ticking boxes. Multiple layers and nuances require critical attention; without an overall vision and purpose, the intense work necessary for a breakthrough could seem meaningless in the face of the inevitable challenges that would surface.
The people at LinkedIn seem pretty clear about their mission regarding DEI and how they intend to accomplish it. Not only that, they are actively looking at what diversity, equity, and inclusion look like across race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
Inclusivity doesn't happen by default. Many companies talk loosely about their desire to create a working environment that is inclusive of everyone. For the organizations whose desire is genuine, a considerable amount of intentionality is vital for DEI to become a reality in the workplace.
The goal of DEI needs to be part and parcel of company culture, and one of the ways to do that is to invest in continuous training, especially for those who sit at the decision-making tables.
LinkedIn is deliberate and committed to creating initiatives and programs that foster awareness and education of what diversity and inclusion entail for its employees. Employee Resource Groups, Distinguish, Allyship Academy, Catalyst Program are listed in the report as examples of these initiatives.
Another avenue that LinkedIn leverages is forming partnerships with like-minded organizations; this further solidifies their goal of building a consistent culture of inclusion with a global scope.
3) Tracking progress
In LinkedIn's report, it is evident that there has been significant growth in DEI goals over the last few years. For example, the report states that their highest growth has been at the leadership level over the past year, where Black and Latino representation at the Director+ level have grown by 1.5 pp and 1.0 pp, respectively.
We would not have this information if LinkedIn were not tracking and recording progress.
Measuring your organization's performance based on the expectations you've set is a good recipe for growth.
Tracking progress and keeping data helps highlight where companies can improve or deploy a new strategy. Also, these yearly reports give them a sense of accountability which furthermore facilitates growth.
4) Fostering a culture of ownership
Suppose we are talking about genuinely establishing shared responsibility as a foundation of company value and culture; regardless of position, every employee needs to be on board with dealing fairly and equally with each other.
Everyone from the top to the lowest level needs to share the responsibility of driving diversity and inclusion. This shared responsibility means that everybody is mindful that their actions and inactions can create spaces void of inclusion and equity.
It needs to be a culture that everyone deems important, even on a personal level.
I do not doubt that a contributing factor to LinkedIn's growth in DEI goals is their investment in training for their employees.
Whatever systems are put in place to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion need to be sustainable.
The process starts with understanding what DEI truly means, committing to making worthy investments, tracking progress, and getting everyone to share in this great responsibility.
The work is immense, and I love that LinkedIn acknowledges that!
"we're sharing an update on our progress with a mix of enthusiasm for the momentum we have established and deep humility in recognizing that we have more work to do."
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a process and not a destination. The day we think we've arrived at equality is the day things begin to disintegrate. I am excited to see companies like LinkedIn taking responsibility to make their workplace equitable consistently. We respect and salute!