Statista, in cooperation with Forbes, is proud to award the 500 Best Employers for Diversity in the US for the fifth year in a row. These employers stand out in their willingness to promote diversity among employees within their organization. Before diving into the ranking itself, it is important to understand what one means by diversity. So, what is Diversity?
In the framework of diversity, this topic is often referred to as “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”, or DEI. First, diversity means employees are diverse in their background; this can be based on their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, education, region, etc. When one typically thinks about diversity, one often considers people belonging to a minority group – this is not always the case. In the context of the Diversity projects in Canada and the US, we concentrate on six different dimensions: general diversity, gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, age, and disability. In the context of a workplace, most opponents of diversity contend that applicants should get a position based on meritocracy, i.e., their qualifications and skills should determine whether they are offered a position or not. While this may seem reasonable at first, not everyone has the same starting point; some people are lucky enough to have had the resources necessary to access good education, while others remain behind despite their readiness to pursue an academic career.
Second, equity is providing all applicants with an opportunity based on their differences. For example, in 2021 all Statista employees were given company hoodies, and they were asked which size they would like to have. That is equity. Equality, on the other hand, would be ordering five hoodies of each size and not asking the employees beforehand which size they want. It is obvious that if we ordered five times the sizes, S, M, L, XL, not everyone would receive a hoodie that fits. By asking employees what size they would like, Statista put the emphasis on equity. While this example raises a minor aspect of employees’ satisfaction at their workplace, equity can have much bigger consequences when it comes to granting equal opportunities to women, people of color, people in the LGBTQ+ community, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Employers should consider this in recruiting and retention processes when receiving applications from people with a variety of backgrounds and therefore the variety of obstacles they had to overcome to get to where they are today.
Finally, inclusion is allowing employees to be heard – not only inviting people to a meeting but also allowing them to speak their thoughts. Everyone has been excluded from something at one time in their life—be it because of their gender, skin color, weight, appearance, etc. Thus, our goal is to emphasize that inclusion doesn’t only concern minority groups. In recent years, we have seen a development in the approach toward diversity on the organizational level of companies; therefore, a new function within the management board has been created: the CDO – Chief Diversity Officer. More and more companies are recognizing that if we genuinely want to make a change, leadership must be involved in this endeavor, too. Moreover, studies have shown that diverse organizations or companies with a diverse range of employees generate more revenue (McKinsey, 2019). Thus, investing in diversity is not only about ‘doing the right thing’, or increasing human capital; promoting diversity has been proven to result in monetary success.
Now that we all have a rough notion of what the framework of diversity really is, a question remains: what can we do about it? To become more inclusive, it is important to acknowledge that we all have biases in the way that we see the world. We all have had past experiences—either in our early years or in our academic careers—that influence our decision-making processes. The first step is to acknowledge that we all have them, and then, differentiate between the types of biases we have.
The obvious type of bias is called the active bias – we tend to judge people based on our former experience. The opposite is called the passive bias – yes, biases can be latent as well. Consider the following example: “The airplane’s motor stopped working above the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, the pilot was able to land it safely.” – Did you picture this scene? Was the pilot male or female? The third type of bias is the active anti-bias – accepting the fact that we all have biases, and proactively tackling them, not letting them affect our decision-making processes.
So, all in all, to promote a diverse society or a workplace, it does not suffice to simply employ people from diverse groups. A more constructive approach would be to reach out to non-diverse groups to talk about the differences between equality and equity, and by doing so, include them in the discussion. Employers need to grant people the freedom to ask questions, make mistakes, admit biases, learn from them, in order to become better. As with all good things in life, this might take a while, but as Statista observes more and more companies take pride and embrace their diversity, the world is on the right track.