The road to pay equity for all has been a winding one, where twists and turns have entailed some beneficial detours, but have also lengthened the journey. The Harvard Business Review conducted a study in 2016 on why Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) programs often fail in the workplace. The study analyzed the cause and effect of calling out companies for their lack of inclusivity over the decades, and marked the shifts in diversity metrics following those measures.
Overall, the results were bleak. Black men only saw a 0.3% jump in management positions within companies of 100+ employees over the course of 30 years. White women saw a 7% jump. In the banking industry specifically, representation of Hispanic/Latinx employees rose only 1% over a decade. While more significant measures supporting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Access (DEI&A) have been implemented in recent years, the results have in many instances fallen short. For business leaders, it’s important to examine why this might be the case.
Studies have shown that executives do not respond well to a “blame game” system, in which negative messaging and corrective regulations predominate. Further, there is no significant proof that diversity training actually leads to the dissolution of hiring biases. Ultimately, the real agent for change is how executives think and not simply creating mandates to forcibly require diversity measures, because they don’t always result in inclusivity. In order for D&I initiatives to truly succeed, diversity and inclusion must go hand-in-hand. This approach transcends the hiring process, encompassing measurable shifts in workplace behaviors, promoting environments that focus on respect and fairness for all. Equal pay is an obvious requirement for efforts to ensure inclusivity, since a particular demographic of employees can’t possibly feel at home if they’re being compensated unfairly.
There is also a dearth in measuring real metrics for these changes as they occur. Surveying staff, analyzing retention rates, and using comparative measures to evaluate performance with regard to other companies, industries, states, and even countries will allow organizations to have a better understanding of what is lacking and what needs to be done.
Of course, an important dimension of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Access (DEI&A) is progress in legislation. As equal pay legislation expands in scope and enforcement, both in the U.S. and abroad, more information surrounding the success of such measures is becoming available. True change requires effort, and while many leaders have traditionally been reluctant to exercise that effort without a nudge and solid proof that these changes will better an organization’s practices, innovative companies have led the way in promoting workplaces that are more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. While such efforts undoubtedly indicate progress, there is still much to be done.