Diversity in the Workplace

Posted on 27. Jan, 2016 by

I recently attended a networking event and had the opportunity to listen to Katina Sawyer speak on diversity in the workplace. I learned so much from her and was so inspired that I thought I would share some of the stuff I learned with you.

First, a little background about Katina. Katina is an Assistant Professor at Villanova in the Psychology Department and she holds a dual Ph. D in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Women’s Studies from Penn State University. She also owns and operates her own consulting firm specializing in selection, assessment, performance management, training, and diversity/inclusion. Needless to say, Katina is one of the most intelligent and hard-working women I have ever met.

To start, Katina shared some stats that prove that diversity is here to stay. Redundant

  • By 2042, the American population will be “majority minority”
  • Non-Hispanic whites made up 85% of the US population in 1960. In 2050 they will compose 46.3% of the population.
  • The US only makes up 4.5% of the world’s overall population.
  • The working population worldwide will increase by 25% by 2050
  • China’s working population will decrease by 25%, and India’s will increase by 50%.

Knowing that diversity is not going anywhere anytime soon, Katina went on to chat about why it’s good for business. She stated that implementing a diversity initiative can make companies more competitive and help organizations become an employer of choice. A strong commitment to diversity can increase job satisfaction, in turn lowering turnover and litigation costs. Having a diverse workforce can also help a company market to many different audiences. It has also been proven that a more diverse staff performs better than a non-diverse staff and is more creative in their problem-solving.

Katina then stated that in addition to implementing a diversity initiative, organizations must foster inclusivity as well. It has been proven that more interaction with diversity leads to more acceptance of diversity. A strong diversity climate can impact emotions, attitudes, achievement, opportunities, and customer attitudes, which in turn affects overall organizational performance.

It’s clear that diversity and inclusion is good for an organization, however there are many challenges that come along with it. For example, if you implement a diversity initiative in the wrong way, it can do a lot of harm. A failed diversity initiative can cause decreased communication among employees and leaders, increased discrimination and harassment, and lower commitment and satisfaction for dominant group members. A diversity and inclusion program can also cause in-group favoritism and out-group bias, which can result in unfair hiring, firing, and promotion practices.

In order to prevent these things from happening, Katina gave some great tips and recommendations. Her advice to HR is:

  1. Recruit and select diverse employees using legitimate selection criteria
  2. All decisions for salary and promotions should be made based on job requirements
  3. Monitor compliance with the 4/5th rule
  4. Make sure the leaders are on board with the diversity initiative
  5. Perspective taking can reduce stereotyping
    1. Diversity training should include some materials which involve case studies or sharing personal perspectives/experiences
  6. Awareness of biases can help
    1. Offer unconscious bias training
  7. Team work on task-related projects can help employees to get past surface-level diversity
    1. Put groups of people together who haven’t worked together before
  8. Give a common, unifying goal
    1. Organizational identity often trumps personal identities
  9. Ask your employees how they feel
  10. Surveys and focus groups go a long way!

If you are interested in diversity and ready to continue the conversation, check out this upcoming event hosted by Professional Women’s Round table – details here. Hope to see you all there!

You can find Katina on LinkedIn here.