Diversity & Inclusion

Special from #SHRM2018: Diversity Still a Challenge in 2018

The HR Daily Advisor recently sat down with Debra Squyres, Chief Customer Officer and Annie Shapiro, Director of Content and Communications at Namely at #SHRM2018 here in Chicago. We discussed their freshly published research, Workplace Diversity Report 2018.

Portrait of a group of businesspeople in an office

Diversity in the Workplace

We began by discussing a finding that showed that departments have a tendency to share similar ethnicities and genders. Their report states, “we found that Asian, Hispanic, black, and white managers have shares of direct reports within their own demographic far exceeding national workforce averages.”

Squyres put it another way, “typically we see that people who are similar to one another end up working on the same teams as each other, and very much align to their manager.” This leads to a lack of diversity.

Part of what this means is that organizations can holistically look diverse when the distribution of diversity across the organization might be very uneven.

Recognition by Gender

According to the report, acknowledgement and recognition by gender tends to follow the same trend as diversity among teams. “In public acknowledgement you see women appreciate women more and men appreciate men more” said Squyres.

When I asked why this tends to occur, Squyres suggested that there might be “a difference in how the genders communicate and what they communicate.”

Squyres also said that appreciation can go beyond just public acknowledgment. “If you looked at the data around performance reviews, increases, and promotions, you also saw higher tendency for men to be promoted and receive raises than women,” she said.

Indeed, their report showed that men received 54% of all promotions and 57% of all raises. More interestingly, both genders reward direct reports of the same gender almost twice as often.

More than Just Gender

In regard to concepts like the unequal recognition by gender, Shapiro said, “it’s more systemic than just gender.” Squyres elaborated, “from an ethnicity perspective we saw Hispanic and black employees were less represented in both management and teams outside of operations. You see underrepresentation woven throughout the entire organization both in leadership as well as departments outside of operations.”

Their report backs up these issue, concluding that “African Americans were underrepresented in all industries in general except food service.”

What Can We Do?

I asked Squyres and Shapiro what can be done in general, and what their company does to help organizations diversify.

Squyres said, “one thing I think we can all acknowledge is that regulation does not drive social change.” For example, she noted that while the Civil Rights Act passed back in 1964 there are still systemic inequalities across society in general and specifically in the workplace.

Where does change happen then? Squyres said that “most of the social and societal change occurs at the grass roots level” and that she strongly believes that as part of that movement, “HR practitioners do drive change.” Namely accomplishes this by giving organizations tools to clearly see the diversity issues that they have. “A company might well be diverse holistically but if you look at it by level, by team, it’s actually not diverse,” said Squyres. If companies like Namely can show those organizations a measure of their diversity, or lack of diversity, then they can improve.

I mentioned to Squyres and Shapiro that there might be a tendency to address a lack of diversity by simply getting more diverse employees but that might not always be realistic. Indeed, many companies that have diversity holistically lack diversity among teams and different levels in the organization. Squyres said that Namely offers tools to help companies enact job rotation programs. “What I used to call fruit basket turnover” said Squyres.

What Is Driving Diversity

Squyres and Shapiro made it clear that Namley has a true belief that diversity is the right thing to promote. When they need additional motivators, Squyres points to research that shows “if ultimately you have talented professionals on your team, your company gets stronger. Especially if you move those professionals to teams with greater diversity.”

The ideas and research discussed in this article really only show the tip of the iceberg. For a more complete view of the results, check out their report here.