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RESETTING YOUR CONVERSATIONS ON DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE

Denise Natishan

Although the last few years have seen important strides made in addressing the gender gap on corporate boards, a worrying trend in its wake is that many men in corporate America are getting tired of hearing about it.
Even though countless studies have been published about the benefits of having a healthier variety of thought, experience and background, a staggering 63% of directors say investors devote too much attention to board gender diversity.

That’s up from 35% in 2018! Even more recent numbers dug up by Fortune speak to where these trends are heading: 72% of male directors say too much attention is paid to gender diversity, while only 25% of female directors agree. 
 
Women now hold 20% of board seats throughout the Russell 3000, and as of this summer there isn’t a single company in the S&P that has an all-male board. That’s why it’s more important than ever for hiring managers to consider the big picture and the tipping points that are ahead
for all of us. 
 
Think of your next hire not merely as an applicant or candidate to fill a position for a pressing need, but consider the sort of reputation you want to build, and down the road what sort of world you want to live in—and being able to say you helped get us there. 
 
Doing the right thing, even if it’s the harder thing.
Doing the right thing pays off in major ways to your bottom line and company culture but it isn’t done with a single gesture.Of course, hiring decisions matter in navigating this philosophy, but it’s hardly the only data point to consider. Retention after hiring is important, and the vital times we live in are a great opportunity to think about the way people in your company treat each other—which often boils down to communication and our very human, unconscious biases. 
 
Nobody is expecting you to be perfect and to never make a mistake in addressing these issues when identifying candidates from a talent pool, since it’s a long road to learning new habits and un-learning less desirable ones—even if they were unintentional. Fortunately, there are two tools worth taking a look at that offer unique ways to see how we’re affected by unconscious bias and what we’re putting out into the working world. 
 
Turning intention into action. Catalyst, a global non-profit focused on creating workplaces that work for women, has come out with Bias Correct, a sort of conversation-starter resource that allows you to create and share
“memes” of someone’s face with a judgmental word that’s been said about them. The goal is that by sharing and publicly discussing the reality of people’s associations, people will begin talking about how to build a more inclusive workspace. They even offer a Slack plug-in that offers suggestions for more inclusive language.

For example, “She’s so aggressive,” might elicit a suggestion of “She’s so assertive” to help change these subtle, often pervasive language choices that can impact how coworkers are perceived. 
 
Another great tool to consider is Textio, an invaluable AI-powered platform for hiring managers (or anyone who writes emails, really) that offers real-time “grading” on all copy that lets you know how inclusive your language is. Best of all, Textio is a non-judgmental, factual, feedback-based system that’s there to help educate you on how to speak with more kindness, more intention and to more people, period.
 
What are biases you or your company have succeeded in recognizing, discussing, and learning to address? Please let us know about the ways you have stepped up to make a difference and
positive change for equality!