Systemic racism is nothing new in America, and the effects of unconscious racial prejudice have long caused inequality in the workplace. So why – when presented with the task of developing the new “normal” hybrid workplaces – are we allowing the same systemic problems that exist to boxed generations of black and brown people out of the workforce?
We must face this problem bravely, with whatever tools are available to us right now, while we still have a chance to shape the foundations that will be built once in a generation.
The statistics help tell the story of the huge disparities in the economic status of black and white households. The typical black household earns only 57 cents on the dollar made by white households, and the median wealth of black households is only $17,000—compared to $171,000 for white households. Black households also suffer from low annual incomes, earning an average of about $29,000 less a year than their white counterparts. Their children are three times as likely to grow up in poverty and remain poor for the rest of their lives. There is also a dismal wealth gap in homeownership: Only 42% of black households own a home, compared to 73% of white households.
I recently shared this data with lawmakers serving on the subcommittee of the US House Financial Services Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. The hearing, “The Legacy of George Floyd: An Examination of Financial Services’ Commitments to Economic and Racial Justice,” specifically addressed the negative economic impact of systemic racism in the financial services industry. Everything from biased lending practices to imbalances in the distribution of philanthropic dollars has massive economic implications.
Equity cannot be achieved solely by donating money to external partners such as my organization, the National Urban League. While I will be the first to say that many of my colleagues in the league and in the region are doing a great job, too many companies are counting on us alone to change the world.
Actions speak. Entrepreneurs need to help bring their employees to proven training programs that show the true impact of their unconscious biases. Startups must look within and ensure that their organizations are diverse, inclusive and equitable places for both employees and their customers.
But it requires inner work. And in some cases, extraneous sounds. We have already seen that companies such as Comcast NBCUniversal, Charter Communications and T-Mobile form external diversity and inclusion councils with independent leaders to advise and help advance common objectives.
Promoting Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) is not the only right and ethical thing for entrepreneurs to do. It also makes economic sense. Companies that emphasize internal diversity tend to be more profitable, as they can successfully appeal to more diverse markets. Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform less diversified companies.
To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and profoundly changed many aspects of work life, including in-person diversity training and workforce development.
As more workplaces move toward hybrid models of remote and in-person work, it’s time to take DEI off the back burner and rethink inclusion programs to include leading-edge technology for getting employees anywhere. to be done.
Companies should start now. But there’s no need to start from scratch. The resources already exist, and there are a wealth of external partners who can help improve corporate culture and diversity metrics. With a deep and nuanced understanding of current issues, civil rights organizations are uniquely prepared to support corporate DEI management by providing strategic advisory services, executive coaching, DEI subject matter expertise, and DEI strategy development and planning. For example, we have lessons learned over our 111 years working to connect diverse communities with opportunities, and we integrate these lessons with new technological advances to advise our partners.
Accordingly, groups such as the National Urban League have successfully collaborated with public and private partners on issues of diversity, inclusion, fair employment, equality and equity. While these conversations can sometimes be difficult, companies that are deliberate in addressing these issues should do so.
Here are some ways founders can usher in a more inclusive startup culture in a hybrid work environment.
VR Training Program
Virtual reality technology is one of the latest additions to the DEI training toolbox to facilitate sometimes difficult discussions. Virtual reality scenarios can be used to cost-effectively train a large group of people.
By donning a VR headset, individuals can participate in a comprehensive training experience where they can engage in conversations about race and implicit bias without fear of judgment or retaliation.
for example, moth+flameA Brooklyn-based virtual reality developer and production studio, it has already developed successful DEI programs for the US Air Force and Accenture, where users enter a simulated real-world environment to practice difficult conversations using their voice. We do. This innovative technology offers a deep level of immersion that creates long lasting emotional impact for employees.
The beauty of VR is that it lends itself well to in-person situations and can also be used effectively with remote employees. In a hybrid workplace, VR ensures that all employees leave with a consistent training experience – regardless of their location.
Vocational and Workforce Development Programs
Programs for America’s Startups could be developed to connect recruiting teams to historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. These events include supported and hosted online job boards, career fairs, and workforce development initiatives.
But just getting diverse faces at the door isn’t enough – it’s just diversity. Founders need to invest in their employees of color by allowing them to participate in professional development programs to create the next generation of executives – that is equity. This is even more important with a scattered workforce because the division in employee experience can be more pronounced when some groups work in the office and some live far away. Workers may find themselves feeling lonely, lonely or just out of the loop. Professional development programs encourage employee engagement and indicate that the company is investing in their personal and professional development, regardless of where they are located – that is inclusion.
The return to some level of in-office activity also comes with a return to relying on suppliers – such as travel agents, catering vendors, event production companies and more. As companies seek new suppliers to build their new hybrid work environment, they must now work to establish a diverse supplier network, examine existing vendors, and create a framework for sourcing new vendors .
Based on my experience, many companies consistently list the difficulty of finding diverse suppliers as the main obstacle to pursuing such diversity. To solve the problem, bidconnect usa Created a centralized business network platform that connects companies and government agencies with small businesses, aggregates events online and creates a tool to promote ethical practices and economic inclusion.
identify, assess, measure
Without employees coming together in the same office day after day, it can be hard for employees to realize when progress has been made toward positive company cultural change. That’s where numbers and accountability come in handy.
Startups should transparently determine what metrics they want to include to measure diversity within their organization. With equity being a higher priority than ever for employees, consumers, investors and activists, there has never been more risk and cost to lag behind or more rewards and benefits for leading.
Management Leadership for TomorrowThe (MLT) Black Equity at Work certification program enables employers to take drastic action to minimize downside and maximize upside by assuring prominent, continued Black Equity progress and providing valuable recognition.
The MLT program is not another pledge, index or disclosure push. It is a unique, cost-effective price correction system that includes a carefully developed scoring rubric that measures overall Black Equity progress; planning resources and support that enable employers to carve their own path on their timeline; A range of valuable services that ensure and accelerate results; And a high level of trust and strict confidentiality guaranteed. The socialization of tangible data to measure progress towards diversity goes a long way toward shaping company culture.
Achieving complete racial equality and inclusion will not be easy. This requires a firm commitment from all sectors of our civil society. Government entities, startups, private and public companies and non-profits alike need to ask themselves uncomfortable questions, resolve to address inequalities and change practices and policies so that all people can live full and prosperous lives. Get equal opportunities. With the right programs in the hands of dedicated staff, we can get there a little faster.