In the corporate world, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) has evolved in the last decade. We’ve come from the days of Diversity 1.0, where advocates and communities made arguments for the “business case for diversity” to a time where far more companies are placing DE&I front and center. DE&I jobs grew 71% in the last 5 years, and lots of CEOs are making promises around diversity, especially in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.
For the most part, these are all good signs. We’ve made some progress. But where do we still have to go? What will it take to usher in Diversity 2.0, where a broad opportunity landscape is the norm, not the exception?
Let’s take a closer look at how companies can take proactive steps to achieve Diversity 2.0.
Build Your Culture for Who’s Not in the Room
Companies want to hire diverse teams, yet more often than not, their efforts seem to fall short. Why? Sometimes companies hire diverse talent, but they don’t ready the environment to be inclusive for diverse talent. This has the effect of treating people like canaries in a coal mine.
What happens when someone is one of the first Black or Latinx or trans or differently-abled people to have a job in a company, in a department, or on a particular team, and the company culture doesn’t make them feel valued and welcome? They leave. When the experience of working at your company doesn’t match the promises that your company has made, people will leave. Your company will be a revolving door for diverse talent. And your reputation will suffer in the talent marketplace.
Diversity 2.0 is about more than hiring, it’s about retention and inclusion. Have candid conversations in your organization about who isn’t in the room and how to build a culture that includes them. Have even more candid conversations about why underrepresented groups aren’t already there at your company.
Name the Opportunity: Beyond “Pipeline Problem”
In Diversity 1.0, too many companies talked about having a “pipeline problem,” meaning not having enough candidate from underrepresented backgrounds apply for their roles. Diversity 2.0 is about broadening the top of the funnel, aligning your sourcing efforts, looking at all the pedigrees of talent, expanding your sources of hire to new places.
Your next great hire might not have a certain degree or might not have graduated from a certain school, but maybe they have the right skillsets, the right life experiences to build creativity and resilience, the right career background in a fast-growing environment but in a different industry.
Diversity 2.0 is about enriching and expanding the talent bar. It’s about understanding who is not in the pipeline, and adjusting your talent strategy to find these people.
Be Data-Brave, Not Data-Blind
In Diversity 1.0, many corporate leaders were worried about finding the real source of their diversity challenges; they didn’t want to look too closely at the data, or didn’t know where to look.
Diversity 2.0 is about understanding who’s at your company, who’s in your pipeline, who’s staying and who’s leaving. Be data-brave: lean in to understand the problems and pinpoint the places in your talent pipeline where implicit or explicit biases might be driving talent away.
For example, what percentage of diverse candidates are getting hired for entry-level jobs, and how does that percentage compare to higher-level executive roles? Is there something about your company that is driving talent away before they can get promoted through the ranks? Is diversity embedded in your succession planning for managerial and C-level roles? If you have good data, you will know.
Diversity 2.0 is not just about who gets hired, it’s about who feels appreciated and welcomed and rewarded enough to stay. Especially in a digital, distributed, Work From Home environment where geography is no longer a limitation, talent has more power than ever before. Now is a moment of opportunity for companies to expand their reach, improve their cultures, and source the best talent, representing all aspects of our diverse humanity.
Tariq Meyers is Canvas’s Chief People Officer. Prior to Canvas, Tariq manifested his passion for embedding equitable policies and practices into the employee and product lifecycle when he served as Lyft and Coinbase’s first Head of Diversity & Inclusion. Named a Forbes “30 Under 30” and “Root 100: Most Influential African Americans of 2018”, Tariq most aligns with mission-driven brands looking to create more opportunity for folks who have been historically left out.