It’s Time to Act

It’s Time to Act

A pandemic. Senseless killings. People taking to the streets. Our foundational values being rocked. This is America 2020.

And your workplace is a subset of the same environment. And for good reason. As HR professionals, we haven’t done enough. If we are honest with ourselves, equal opportunity has been little more than lip service and legal statements found in our handbooks and at the bottom of job postings. We’ve rested on laurels and that old language, failing to address the fact our organizations have accepted the legacy of under-representation and mis-treatment of minorities in our workforces. We have gotten comfortable grand plans and negligible progress. We’ve let our core values of equal opportunity for all fade into hollow, well-crafted words.

It’s time for recovery, renewal and action. Time to renew our passion and fervor to live out our words with people plans and actions that back them up. To make certain there really is equal opportunity in our companies from the board room to the shop floor.

Don’t just author that press release that says what every other company is saying. Blah, blah, blah. Instead, invest your time and attention in taking tangible actions that will show the world that you are taking the current events seriously. Take actions that will differentiate you and your company from the herd of companies just saying all the right things, but changing little or nothing.

So what should you do? What are the right actions? The environment can be somewhat paralyzing. What if I sponsor or do the wrong thing? The wrong thing is doing nothing.

I’ve got a short list of actions to take that I’m certain can be added to by all the brilliant HR pros who follow and read Fistful of Talent. Chime in with the actions you and your company have taken to safeguard and protect your people, and ensure that true equal opportunity exists in your company. Help this community benefit from the collection of ideas.

Here’s the starter list.

  • Acknowledge and address the bias in your recruitment process – It all starts with recruiting, and who you are bringing into your company. COVID-19 has either tugged on the reigns of your recruitment efforts, or forced a re-write of your processes to be more virtual. So what are you doing differently to ensure that equal opportunity exists for your openings whether you’re black, female, gay or disabled? There are loads of resources that can be leveraged. Manager training, assessment utilization, and technology that can highlight and remove unwanted bias queues. With hiring slow or non-existent for many companies, put your talent acquisition team on a mission to identify/implement one or all of these solutions.
  • Ensure equal pay – Not sure what else there is to say here. Just do the math. And when minority groups are paid less, fix it. Then make certain that you put policies in place to ensure that the gap won’t re-open over time.
  • Increase funding for diversity and inclusion initiatives – What is your budget for diversity and inclusion initiatives? If you can’t answer this question then it’s probably zero. And if you can say what the budget is, then how does it compare to other budgeted key initiatives? My guess is you probably spend more on your holiday party. Yeah, that needs to change.
  • Get rid those who discriminate – This should go without saying, but doing so is often complicated. Just so you know, that’s code for ‘we don’t care’. You know who they are, and so do others. It’s not as big of a secret as you think. So address them unapologetically. The top salesperson, the warehouse manager, or maybe your head of talent acquisition. If you don’t address those who don’t embrace your organization’s values then all the other initiatives won’t matter.

In summary, it’s time for HR to talk less and take bold action. Cut with the rhetoric, and get to work. Your company’s reputation and yours as a top HR pro is dependent on it.

Personally, I pride myself on running a pretty solid HR shop. But when I reflect on my priorities and actions against the backdrop of events of the past few months? Well, I realize that I’ve not done enough and have a lot of work to do.

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