Three Ways Businesses Can Better Support Diversity and Inclusion Right Now

Three Ways Businesses Can Better Support Diversity and Inclusion Right Now

It’s been a tough year for businesses both big and small in every industry. As we head into the second half of 2020, there’s no reason to suggest the unpredictability will stop — and every reason to be prepared for something else.

It’s no secret that now, more than ever, Americans demand accountability from corporations who face mounting pressure to take action against racism and discrimination in the workplace. This is a true turning point for racial equity in corporate America, and empty promises are no longer enough.

Beyond making a statement, what can companies really do to better support diversity and inclusion?

Here are 3 initiatives companies should consider right now.

1. Implement stronger anti-discrimination workplace policies
Taking racial discrimination seriously means preventing it before it begins, starting with better business policies that deter discrimination. Now is the right time for companies to take a hard look at how their practices explicitly or implicitly support racial bias in the workplace.

Does your company have a zero-tolerance anti-harassment policy? Experts say even that isn’t enough. Providing managers with on-going training to recognize and report discrimination and harassment is key to building better workplace policies. An effective anti-discrimination policy also includes a process for employees to make confidential complaints without fear of retaliation — and allows for complaints to be investigated in a timely manner with transparency.

But taking complaints seriously isn’t just about saving face. By law, companies have an obligation to prevent racial harassment and take action when situations occur. Companies who fail to do so may face civil lawsuits — and EEOC fines.

Look no further than Walmart for a great example on what else industry-leaders are doing to combat racism and drive change. The retail giant is committing $100 million to create a new center on racial equity that will lead several initiatives for change, including “support[ing] criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”

2. Make real efforts to increase diversity
Increasing diversity means keeping racism and discrimination out of the workplace, which often starts as early as during the hiring process — before an applicant even begins a job. A groundbreaking study in the American Journal of Sociology even found employers were more likely to consider white candidates with criminal records than black candidates with no such history.

Even workplaces like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have serious room to improve their workplace diversity. Another survey that focused on some of the country’s best tech companies found:
• Only 18% of Black or African American respondents were represented in upper management and the C-suite of their organization
• Even worse, only 18% of Hispanic or Latino respondents were represented in upper management and the C-suite of their organization
Top companies make diversity and inclusion a real priority. Now is the time for businesses to reexamine their personnel practices: how and who they hire, fire, promote, develop and discipline employees. Companies can also take long-term steps like establishing mentorship programs to grow diversity, especially in underrepresented industries. Even something as simple as allowing floating paid holidays — to better accommodate multicultural holidays and religious days — creates a better culture of diversity.

For other ideas on how to drive better diversity in your company, see what other industry-leaders are up to. Facebook says it’s pledged to double the number of its black and Latinx employees by 2023, and to increase the number of black people in leadership positions by 30 percent over the next five years. CPG-giant PepsiCo says it will increase its number of black managers by 30 percent by 2025.

3. Invest in programs that drive diversity and help communities
While many brands are taking a strong public stance against discrimination now — and rightly so — true leading companies are also committing their efforts to the future. Supporting non-profits and programs that work to eradicate racism and help underrepresented and minority communities is a powerful avenue companies can use to enact lasting change.

Consider PayPal. The payment-services platform created a $500 million fund to support black and minority businesses by strengthening ties with community banks and credit unions serving underrepresented communities — plus other funds to invest directly in black- and other minority-led start-ups, assist black-owned businesses affected by Covid-19, and increase internal efforts to create more diversity and inclusion programs.

Or look to investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, who donated $2.2 million to start the Talent x Opportunity fund, designed to support entrepreneurs from underserved communities.

Get Involved with the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services

How else can you help end discrimination? Get involved with the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services today. CIFS’ industry professionals are dedicated to working collaboratively to promote a more inclusive workforce. We’re advocates for the value of workplace diversity and believe in helping industries provide equal access to business opportunities and improve community well-being.

Click here to join CIFS now or contact us for more info.

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