How to Advance Diverse Talent and Create Equity in the Workplace

Shantera L. Chatman, MBA, is a transformation consultant and strategist who specializes in transforming organizations and driving accountability through unique curated experiences that bridge cultural gaps. She is the creator of the Transformative Ally Framework and President of PowHer Consulting.

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I was recently asked how companies can create a strategy to advance current and future diverse talent in the workplace.  It is unfortunate that a strategy is needed to treat everyone fairly, but it is the nature of the beast these days. Here are a couple of things that rose to the top of my mind when I considered this question.

Achieving equity requires actively correcting inequities enjoyed by some and not others. To advance diverse talent and create equity in the workplace, those with power must be willing to relinquish it for the greater good of the company.  When I say relinquish, I mean let go for a while and allow someone else an opportunity or a seat at the table.

Equal Recognition

The first thing that must be done is ensure everyone receives an equal opportunity to be recognized. If you are managing multiple sites, ensure each site has employee celebrations and recognition is spread across. Do not limit your recognition and celebrations to headquarters only. It makes employees at other sites feel inferior.  As if all their hard work was for nothing.  Also, ask all department heads to submit their high achievers for recognition. Establish a committee of diverse employees to vote on those who will receive recognition. This will encourage diversity and not allow the same people to receive awards each time.

Checks and Balances

Secondly, have a checks and balances system in place. Ensuring equal pay or fair pay is a huge issue. Some companies share the entire workforce’s salaries annually to show transparency. I am not sure I agree with this methodology, but it is a good start. I recommend taking it a step further. Create an accountability board consisting of leaders and staff to review any promotion and/or salary disputes. This board’s review results will be public to the entire staff along with its rationale. This will go a long way to build equity among the entire workforce as it gives them insight into how promotions and salary increases are recommended and approved. Accountability such as this provides knowledge and visibility into the sometimes “secretive” discussions and allow the employees to feel included in the process.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, but it is a start for an HR executive seeking change within their company.  It will not be perfect, and you will make mistakes, but the important thing is you are moving your company forward. Do not be afraid to change what is not working as you move along in the process. You do not have to continue with an idea that is not working for your organization. Every company is different and will respond to change in a different way. They key is to not give up and understand that you will not be able to please everyone. Know that your efforts will be appreciated as long as they are genuine.

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