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Diversity and Inclusion By Design

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Diversity and Inclusion By Design

August 25, 2020
Multicultural group of people linking arms in a group

Though executives tend to think—and want to believe—they’re hiring and promoting fairly, bias still creeps into their decisions. They may use ambiguous criteria that amplify unconscious biases such as conformity and personal similarity bias which has an impact on recruitment, mentoring, and promotions.

Companies should invest in change because discrimination dampens performance. It is estimated that companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits. It is also estimated that a 1% rise in gender and cultural diversity corresponds to a 3% and 9% increase in sales revenue, respectively. 

In order to successfully change, companies need to leverage both quantitative and qualitative tools to ensure diversity and fair practices. 

On the quantitative side, many organizations are turning to people analytics, which aspires to replace gut decisions with data-driven ones. Firms may lack data on marginalized groups in their data sets. However, there are things employers can do to supplement a small sample size by drawing on industry or sector data.  

On the qualitative side, it is important for companies to learn from what’s happening in other companies, deeply examining the experiences of individuals who work for them and talking with them to gather critical information, to provide qualitative insights. Many companies feel ill-prepared to conduct qualitative research around inclusion. Employees may be hesitant to give feedback and point out deficiencies for fear of repercussions. 

Design thinking tools and methods can prove to be an effective way to overcome those barriers. Using techniques such as clash pairs and outlier scenario design will encourage the larger group to design in a collaborative way, easing the pressure on individuals to speak for a representative group and paving the path for change. 

By starting with the numbers and then looking at the larger context beyond the numbers, diving deeper into qualitative insights, using design thinking tools to enable the collaborative design of the future, companies will have a better chance of improving diversity and inclusion.

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