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Are you attracting and retaining a diverse workforce? The business benefits you could be missing out on

June 26, 2019
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When it comes to the future of work, diversity isn't an option — it's a necessity. However, many Colorado business seem to have missed the memo: One-quarter of women report experiencing gender bias at work, and only half believe their company provides equal opportunities to all employees, according to research from Pinnacol Assurance.

The business case for diversity is strong: A recent study by Boston Consulting Group finds that diverse teams led to more innovation and an improved bottom line. And while diversity encompasses many sociocultural attributes, such as age, cultural identity, and sexuality, gender diversity is having a moment.

Here are four ways Colorado companies can show their commitment to a diverse culture for the future of workers.

1. Shine a spotlight on your pay practices

Many a company has uncovered uncomfortable news when opening up their books on the pay wage gap. In fact, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into Oracle's hiring practices indicates that the company showed a preference for candidates it could later underpay, costing minority and female candidates more than $400 million in lost wages.

That disparity may be on the way out in Colorado, as companies will be legally obliged to undo any gender bias in pay thanks to the recently passed “Equal Pay for Equal Work Act," which applies to companies of all sizes. While the law won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2021, the time is now to do a deep dive into your pay practices to bolster your reputation with your employees.

2. Remove unintended bias from your job posts

Believe it or not, you could be sending an unintended message that dissuades certain candidates from applying just by using certain phrases (and not using others) in your job ads.

A Harvard Business School article found that words like “competitive" and “dominate" tend to attract more men, while words such as “collaborate" and “supportive" appealed more to women. Similarly, the descriptor “ninja," as in “marketing ninja," has become a euphemism for someone on top of their game — but it's also more likely to appeal to men than women.

Wondering how your position posts stack up? Check out the “Gender Decoder for Job Ads" and find out which words can help you attract a diverse workforce — helping your business succeed in the future of work.

3. Model from the top

Many companies claim to have family-friendly policies, from flexible work hours to extended parental leave. However, if top managers don't avail themselves of these opportunities, employees may hold the unspoken worry that the programs aren't truly accessible, even if they are offered.

Research conducted by Pinnacol Assurance finds that nearly 80 percent of female workers say they feel “pressure to do it all," compared with only 63 percent of men. Similarly, only 35 percent say they believe employers make decisions with their best interests in mind, compared to nearly half of men.

Encouraging managers to take advantage of flexibility paves the way for employees who are their children's primary caregivers to do the same. Move away from the practice of “secret parenting," as in, coming to work and acting as though your children don't exist, and encourage your employees to openly bring that part of them to work, too.

4. Be aware of small signals that make a big difference

As you consider your office culture, make a point to identify and call out the subtle signs that inadvertently create a culture employees may perceive as less friendly to certain groups.

Does a female executive routinely take notes during meetings? Is minority employee interrupted or talked over when they make a point? Do you regularly hold after-hours functions that might be less accessible to employees in caregiving role? While most managers don't intend to support behavior that it is subtly biased, you might be surprised what you find once you start looking for it.

The future of workers in Colorado will be dominated by an ever-diversifying pool, which is why employers would be well served to proactively examine their own practices. Are you prepared to attract, retain and promote tomorrow's workers today?

Read more about building your future workforce.

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