Stacey Gordon’s Four Steps Toward Creating A Lasting, Diverse Workforce
‘When someone is taught again and again that they have to work twice as hard to get into the workplace, they’re going to be twice as good,’ says Stacey Gordon, CEO and Chief Diversity Strategist of Rework Work, at the WOTC 2021 events.
Study after study demonstrate that the workforce becomes more inclusive and pay becomes more equitable when women are in leadership positions. Gender diversity may be the first step, but that definition has since been expanded to include people of different races, backgrounds, geographies and ages.
Stacey Gordon, CEO and Chief Diversity Strategist of Rework Work, a company that specializes in helping businesses develop clear diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, came to The Channel Company‘s Women of the Channel Leadership Summit East event to share her best practices and the importance of recruiting a more diverse workforce. There’s power in numbers, and women can help drive their company’s hiring strategies and advocate for fellow women and women of color, Gordon said.
Gordon talked about the importance of awareness and why skipping that step to move on to action will doom companies, which will have to start their DEI strategies all over when they don’t work. While unconscious biases and discrimination won’t go away immediately, Gordon laid out the ways that women can have a positive impact on the workplace right away.
Here are her four steps toward creating a more diverse workforce.
It‘s important to start with awareness, even though many companies that kick off a DEI strategy always want to go straight to the last step: action, Gordon said. Awareness of the issue is the opposite of jumping into action that isn’t sustainable based upon the company and with having “gut feelings” on the right thing to do instead of having factual data.
“This step is important because if we keep skipping over the beginning part, we’re going to keep repeating the middle part,” which can lead to “diversity fatigue” and being doomed to repeat the process a year, five years or 10 years down the road, she said.
“We really have to get the awareness piece down because we can’t address things that we don’t see happening,” she said.
Alignment is about getting on the same page and making a plan to address DEI. It‘s about deciding what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and who we’re doing it for, Gordon said.
The starting line is recruiting. Open jobs are a great way to begin to diversify companies by bringing in a pool of candidates that differ from each other in gender, racial or ethnic diversity, socioeconomic backgrounds and even geographic diversity. Building a diverse team will translate to diversity of thought, a huge benefit for any team or business, Gordon said.
“Hire for diversity of experience and getting to a place where there is diversity of demographics,” she said.
To keep track of these efforts, the staff has to be counted. “You have to count people. How are you going to know if you’ve made change? When it comes to sales, does anyone say, ‘We don’t want to count sales.’ Of course you count. Don’t you want to know how much money you’re making or how much better you are than last year?“
Many people believe that when someone didn’t get to the same place as them or the same promotion, it means they are less ambitious, perhaps even lazy, or otherwise less deserving or not as smart. But Gordon pointed out that there are a lot of people working very hard who are not being recognized.
“We have to understand that people have different ways, different perspectives, different experiences,” she said. “If we really want to get to a place of equity in our workplaces, we have to understand that equity is about making sure that we are opening up our workplaces and addressing inequality.
Businesses overlook valuable candidates if they don’t make equity a priority, Gordon said. “When someone is taught again and again that they have to work twice as hard to get into the workplace, they’re going to be twice as good.”
This especially applies to women of color who are “working their butts off for half the amount of money,” Gordon said.
According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, three-quarters of white employees consider themselves allies to women of color at work, but far fewer than that are actually taking key ally actions. Being an ally is about action, Gordon said.
When asked which of the following actions most conveyed meaningful ally actions to women of color, there was a notable disconnect between the factors that women of color say are the most meaningful, and the action that white employees prioritize, according to the study. The top action, according to women of color, is advocating for new opportunities for these women. Mentoring isn’t as meaningful, Gordon said. “What’s the point of mentoring these women in a place that doesn’t value them?” she said.
Employees need to examine where unconscious bias may be slipping into day-to-day activities. Recognizing unconscious bias in the workplace is very important, but it’s not something that can be eradicated easily, she said. The second action is looking for help in seeing discrimination against women of color and working to confront it. This goes back to awareness, Gordon said. “You can’t confront something you don’t know is happening,” she said.