Google made news last week by hiring Danielle Brown to take their industry-leading diversity initiatives to the next level. Brown has proven her chops at Intel, where she increased female and underrepresented minority new hires to 45% in 2016 (vs. 32% in 2014). But hiring is only the first step to having diversity in your employee base. Any organization that wants to retain those diverse employees must focus on the employee experience.
Google’s challenges in increasing diversity are shared by virtually every tech company. But tech is not alone in this challenge. Many organizations outside the tech industry also have trouble retaining talented employees who come from underrepresented groups.
Why? Because many organizations don’t invest in an employee experience that engages a diverse employee base.
Implicit Bias and the Employee Experience
The value of diversity in the workforce is clear. Multiple studies have shown that having diverse employee groups leads to higher profits. In 2011, Forbes interviewed 321 executives at large global companies and concluded “A diverse and inclusive workforce is necessary to drive innovation, foster creativity, and guide business strategies. Multiple voices lead to new ideas, new services, and new products, and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.”
But achieving this diversity can be tricky. Often, organizations suffer from very subtle implicit bias. Communication styles, management practices and even assumptions of what constitutes “professional attire” come from cultural or gender assumptions that we may not even be aware of. We hire for cultural fit – but might be inadvertently boxing employees into an unnatural conformity.
And trying to force that conformity doesn’t work well.
Google itself, through its Project Aristotle research, has found that no one wants to put on their “work face” when they come into the office. Project Aristotle showed that Google’s highest-performing, highest-retention teams have strong enough connections between managers and teammates that all team members feel safe stating differing ideas and opinions.
Yet creating a culture where diversity is built into the employee experience doesn’t often happen organically. A Gallup study published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies found that employees’ plans to leave an organization were somewhat higher when the employee and manager were of different races.
This is a solvable problem. The same study found that when managers and employees were of different races and worked in a workplace with an engaging employee experience, they had the highest intentions to stay — even higher than managers and employees of the same race in an engaging work environment.
When you invest in an inclusive employee experience the resulting diversity amplifies that investment.
Building an Inclusive Employee Experience
How do you build that inclusive employee experience? Gallup has found that the two key engagement attributes that lead to feelings of inclusion are: “seems to care about me as a person” and “my opinions seem to count.”
Looking at implicit bias is important, but not the only step. Rather, organizations need to focus on providing opportunities for all their employees to find authentic connection, see that their opinions and ideas are appreciated, and know they can have an impact – in other words, build three of the four pillars of the employee experience.
Google, like most of the tech industry, still has a long way to go to meet their diversity goals. But they’re known as a leader in investing in employee experience. They’re working on building a more diverse talent pool with education programs, internal town halls and interest groups to help diverse employees have more of a voice, and now – a new VP with a focus on these issues.
Here are three places to get suggestions on how you can build a more inclusive environment in your own company:
- BluePrint for Effective Employee Engagement
- Unifying Culture
- Our webinar on building more connection into one-on-ones
YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, YouEarnedIt grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit www.youearnedit.com/demo.
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