While there’s been plenty of lip service paid to inclusivity efforts, brands and agencies touting their progress often have little to no data to back up their assertions. Without a strong rubric for what a diverse workplace actually looks like, it’s too easy to make excuses for failing to improve, and companies can end up wasting time, money and effort on initiatives that don’t work.
“We need to hold all people managers accountable for being inclusive leaders,” Carol Watson, senior director, global advisory services at management consulting firm Diversity Best Practices, told Ad Age during a sit-down meeting at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “Inclusive leadership is necessary to make sure all voices are heard, to make sure there’s no one missing.”
That means that leaders will be on the hook for making sure that they are measuring outcomes. They'll need to track whether new hires are being pulled from underrepresented groups and if those selections are being made from candidate slates that are diverse enough, whether women and people of color and other minorities are being promoted and retained and why some may be leaving.
“A lot of times we don’t have the data to even know what the gaps are we’re looking to fill,” Watson says. “Is it women? It may not be. Is it women of a certain level?” These assumptions can obscure the real issues that a company should be dealing with.
But while change needs to come from the top, it can be a difficult sell for some managers who are more focused on their own bottom line, she adds. “People are often afraid of the word accountability because they’re afraid they feel like it’s going to interfere with their bonus.”