In the quest for a more diverse and inclusive workplace, equity is an important and critical component that companies must consider. It is not enough to attract and recruit diverse talent—there must be an active effort to ensure that all employees feel a sense of belonging and that policies, practices, and procedures within the company foster equity. Equity can be thought of as equal access to opportunity. Creating an equitable workplace means assessing barriers and putting systems in place to ensure that all employees have the same advantages. To ensure that organizations are creating an equitable environment, an equity audit can be conducted. Below are four things your equity audit should assess.
1. Hiring rates. One of the simplest ways to assess equity in your organization is by looking at the rates at which different demographics are hired. The hiring rates should be comparable for different groups of people. Evaluating veteran status, race/ethnicity, gender, and disability status are easily accessible. Rather than looking at the number of underrepresented groups being hired into the organization, look at the selection rate at which these groups are hired. To ensure that no group is adversely impacted by hiring practices, the four-fifths rule should be employed. Based on the rule “a selection rate for any race, sex, or ethnic group which is less than four-fifths (or 80%) of the rate for the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded by the Federal enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse impact.” Ensure that a diverse pipeline of talent is being created in your organization by having a diverse hiring committee and by using several different avenues to source candidates. Relying heavily on referral hiring programs and college fairs can encourage homogeneity in your talent pool.
2. Promotion rates. Another key indicator of equity within your organization is the rate at which employees are promoted. Evaluate promotions over the last few years and evaluate the rates of promotion for different groups. Are women being promoted at the same rates as their counterparts? Are underrepresented racial/ethnic groups being promoted at the same rates as their peers? Look at promotion rates across the months and years. One issue that many organizations face is though they have diversity within the organization, the majority of junior-level employees may be of a particular background. Ensure there is equity in promotion rates. If there is not, consider implementing a mentorship or sponsorship program, which can be instrumental in employee career growth and advancement.
3. Policies and Practices. Create a list of all the major practices that the organization engages in from hiring and promotion to performance evaluations. When examining these practices investigate what strategies are employed. Organizations should strive for greater objectivity to mitigate the unconscious bias that can seep into employment decisions. Are job candidates hired based on culture fit, for example? Hiring for culture fit can unknowingly elicit bias. Utilizing the rubrics and a blind resume system is a good starting point to increase objectivity in company policies and practices.
4. Organizational leadership. Equity and inclusion tend to trickle down from the top of the organization. If there is greater diversity amongst those in decision-making positions, this may increase the likelihood of equitable practices and policies being adopted. A senior leadership team made up of a homogenous group of people will likely have greater challenges identifying their blind spots and understanding how biases like the similar-to-me effect can impact their decision-making. Bad behaviors also tend to trickle down from management so it is imperative that leadership understands how to foster greater equity and how to overcome potential barriers that can impact equity. Periodically ask employees about the culture of inclusion and equity within the organization. Feedback from employees can provide a great indication of the culture that leadership is creating.