Racial Diversity: There’s More Work to be Done in the Workplace
DEIDiversityDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory
Article Icon News Article
January 05, 2017
DEIDiversityDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory
The Economist article, “Racial Diversity: There’s More Work to be Done in the Workplace,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Art Hopkins about diversity in the workplace. The article is excerpted below. 

The Economist

Racial diversity in the workplace – from recruiting to hiring to promoting people of color – continues to move at an unimpressive pace. And if LinkedIn’s annual workplace diversity report is any indication, the needle is moving so slowly that it appears to be broken. Among the company’s 6,435 employees, 5 per cent are Latino, and 3 per cent are Black, representing only a 1 per cent increase over the previous year. LinkedIn’s leadership is 3 per cent Latino and 1 per cent Black.  

The company’s diversity report is particularly disturbing because according to LinkedIn’s own stats, it has 433 million registered users, with two new members joining the social networking site every second. It’s safe to assume that LinkedIn has access to more potential employee profiles than any other organization, which begs the question: If it can’t find suitable candidates of color among hundreds of millions of profiles, who can? 

“Companies often treat recruiting diverse people as compliance or risk mitigation, rather than a business opportunity,” says Art Hopkins, a consultant at executive search and leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Another issue he points out is that these same companies view hiring people who seem different from the majority of their employees as somehow lowering the bar. Having such a limiting mindset negatively impacts their ability to recruit and build a genuinely diverse workforce. 

But when companies view the recruitment of people of color as a business opportunity, such inclusivity can result in a more engaged workforce. “An inclusive culture is the bedrock of a hiring process that broadens the definition of best talent,” he explains. 

The benefits of addressing and improving diversity rates 

Ideally, companies would pursue diversity because it’s the right thing to do. But there are also commercial benefits to consider. “A diverse workforce that thrives in an inclusive culture leads to a better ability to serve customers, a higher level of innovation and a stronger employer brand, as we found from conversations with Diversity and Inclusion #GameChangers,” Hopkins says. 

Specific strategies for increasing workplace diversity 

Hopkins advises executives to assess and challenge the company’s culture by asking themselves these three questions: 

Is your environment ready to embrace a diverse workforce? 

  1. Do you value diversity of background and thought?
  2. Are you aware of biases and willing to confront them? 
  3. If the answer to all three questions is “yes,” the next step is to hire and develop inclusive leaders. “Companies must hire leaders who see business sense in diversity, act as authentic role models, have the courage to address employees’ fear around discussing diversity, and finally, create an environment where employees feel like they belong,” Hopkins says.

To read the full article​, click here.