The Big Q: How Are You Advancing Diversity in the Workplace?

The latest question: How are you advancing diversity in the workplace?

“Detailed expectations for operating in an inclusive environment. Ensure every individual feels comfortable being who they are and is provided opportunities to integrate their identity and culture in the workplace. Lead by example and regularly seek opportunities to support organizations that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, when my partner and I built our team, we believed in inequality in numbers. We intentionally sought talented women and recruited them to start with a team of equal voices. Both female team members and clients need to not only feel included but empowered. We first began setting this example years ago by having a team with equal seats at the table.” —Hanane Lemlih, private wealth financial advisor, Wells Fargo

“We don’t just want to build diversity, because that’s a numbers game. Our goal is to be truly inclusive. Everyone on the team has something to contribute: to the team, to our clients, and to us individually. I encourage everyone on our team to speak up and really own their part of the practice. It then becomes everyone else’s job to listen—really listens—to what our teammates are offering. Sometimes that’s a professional recommendation, and sometimes it’s a personal perspective. We all have to be able to consider that different point of view, I included.” —Sue van der Linden, wealth advisor, Morgan Stanley

“We encourage associates to engage in the community and participate in initiatives they feel passionate about. Last year, we put in place an initiative where associates get paid time off (one day a week) to volunteer and engage with a cause they identify with. The idea is that we are empowering associates to be part of the solution, to engage, and make a difference.” —JC Abusaid, president, Halbert Hargrove

Every few weeks, a video does the rounds on social media showing someone acting appallingly in public. Rather than acting or protecting those involved, most people simply watch or look away.

They do not intervene because nobody else does and because turning away is becoming increasingly normalized.

This concept of bystanders played heavily on my mind when reading a recent report from the Young Women's Trust that revealed one in three female bosses say sexist behavior still exists in their organization. 

As I looked over the data, I realized that what really saddened me was not the findings, but rather just how normal it felt. I just was not particularly shocked or surprised.

Why? Because the reality is that we are all getting far too used to seeing bad numbers, especially when diversity is in the hot seat.

Yes, we have become better at spinning the narrative. But the underlying stats and lived experiences are not changed, and sadly, this is something we have just come to expect. 

We have become victims of pluralistic ignorance. Bystanders staying silent because others do.

We are now well into the spring, traditionally the time of the year of gender pay gap reporting. Sadly, many companies have taken their cue from the government and taken advantage of the deadline extension due to the pandemic, meaning we must wait until 5 October to see the full data.

While well within their rights to use the extension, it is disappointing that many companies have chosen to not report. 

Although gender pay gap reporting is just one part of the picture that should be accompanied by transparency in commitment and actions, with the pandemic disproportionality impacting women's careers, we are expecting the pay gap and wider gender diversity issues to remain significant, if not worse.

It is important to note that the larger the organization, the more useful the data. For smaller organizations, gaps can look very large but can be easily influenced by small personnel changes.

Therefore, it is even more important to disclose the actions being taken, address issues, and engage staff. I urge everyone reading this to step up, and ask your company about their gender pay gap.

While you are there, maybe also ask about their plans for examining the ethnicity pay gap. Despite the recently published and rather disputed Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity report, my conversations and experience demonstrate that racism remains a daily fact of life for many of us that impact opportunities and success. 

Mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting has been tabled to be debated in Parliament and hopefully will be addressed in this session, thereby helping to bring more attention to other inequalities. 

We hope that companies see these debates as a way to engage and listen to lived experiences and take steps to improve equality for everyone.

I can understand the appeal of bystanders. However, if we truly expect to see any change, we must be willing to take a deep breath and take that step forward to intervene.

Perhaps then we can finally start celebrating some positive diversity statistics.