75% of Your Customers Believe in Diversity

Organizations are not doing enough to promote diversity

Pew Research Center recently released a study that followed the social and demographic trends of 6,637 adults in the United States. The study found that 75 percent of adults believed it is “very or somewhat important” for companies and organizations to promote diversity.  

This is misaligned with the fact that most organizations are not doing enough to promote diversity.  

According to Built In:

  • It is more likely to have a CEO named John or David than to have a CEO who is a woman.
  • Only 1% of Fortune 500 companies have African American or Black CEOs. 
  • 41% of managers are “too busy” to promote diversity.

Why is this important?

  • By 2044, groups seen as minorities will reach majority status.  The White population will no longer be a majority.
  • 67% of candidates seek out diverse companies.
  • 78% of people believe diversity and inclusion offers a competitive advantage.

Perception is reality.  If the broader population believes in diversity and employees are seeking diversity, organizations risk not being relevant to their customers by not living and breathing diversity.

Organizations need to mirror their customers and communities

With 90%+ companies led by White men, and 70%+ of C-Suites made up of White men, it is rare that organizations are mirroring their customer bases and communities in which they operate.  When you mirror your customers and communities, you build better reflect the needs of your customers.  You align your products and services with customer needs and out innovate the competition.

How can you reflect the needs of your customers if you have people making decisions that do not understand customers? 

You don’t know what you don’t know.  If you have not lived in black or brown skin, identified as a woman or minority, you cannot know what it is like to be them.  You can empathize and try to understand, but you will never understand the lived experiences of being the “other.”  This means that there is no way that majority White male leadership teams can reflect the needs of women and people of color.

How do we solve this problem?

Collectively, organizations need to step up their diversity, equity, and inclusion programs to show a deeper commitment to increasing diversity.  It is one thing to say you are committed, it is another to show you are committed.  That means consistent, intentional actions over time that align with promoting diversity.

Here are some ideas I see work well with my clients:

  • Measure diversity.  In business, we measure what matters.  If diversity is important, you measure it.  You inspect what you expect.  This means having metrics, a dashboard, and regular communication about how the organization is doing with diversity and inclusion and what activities they are doing to support it more.
  • Educate people on diversity.  With education, discrimination goes down and inclusion goes up.  People do not know what they do not know.  Help them understand the issues that women and people of color face in the workplace, and how they can be allies to others that are different from themselves.
  • Get the middle manager involved.  All too often, the middle manager is too busy or does not think it is their role to support diversity and inclusion.  They could not be more wrong.  The “magic middle” is key to supporting the employee experience and perceptions on diversity.  They need training and development to help them lead inclusively.

If you liked this post, check out my Next Pivot Point podcast.  We have over 100 interviews with diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders all over the world.  Be an ally and  leave a review on iTunes – it helps other allies find it.