Many organizations want to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, but don’t know where to start or what steps are permissible under the law. The Salt Lake Chamber and SixFifty Technologies have assembled a panel of lawyers and diversity leaders with experience turning good intentions into results. On July 21, the panel discussed how companies can get their diversity and inclusion programs off the ground while complying with the law.
- Neelam Chand, CEO and Founder, Shift SLC
- Marie Kulbeth, COO and General Counsel, SixFifty
- Maria P. Tamburri, Director — Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Engagement, Dominion Energy
- Troy Williams, Executive Director, Equality Utah
Resources mentioned during the webinar can be found below.
Additionally, there were a few questions in the Q&A that were left unanswered as we ran out of time. They have been answered by the SixFifty team below.
- Can you give more examples of policies and processes that are important to have in place?
At a minimum, you should make sure that you have a nondiscrimination policy in place. Most companies are legally required to have one. The importance of periodically reviewing and updating the policy to reflect changes in the law is underscored by recent changes in the law. For example, state and local jurisdictions have expanded disability protections, and in 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII, which prohibits sex discrimination, also protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination.
Other policies can include an Employee Resource Group/Affinity Group policy. This policy sets up the rules around how your organization determines what ERGs or types of ERGs it will recognize and support, how it will determine what resources are allocated to them, and how they interact with leadership, etc. Having an ERG Policy in place can help an organization ensure that they are treating different groups fairly and are not making ad hoc decisions about which groups to support.
Work Schedule Policy/Work Day Policy/ Remote Work Policy — inclusivity can include building in more flexible work day or work schedule policies that allow team members who may have needs related to an illness, disability, or family situation (such as a policy regarding school volunteering) to fulfill their work responsibilities without being in the office or to receive some other benefit (such as backup child care options or assistance) that allows them to fully contribute. These types of policies are great for DEIB for current employees and are also becoming highly useful recruiting tools.
Parental Leave Policy — like the above scheduling policies, a good parental leave policy can be a great recruiting tool that also decreases turnover and increases company loyalty. The days of maternity and paternity leave policies are evolving into more inclusive Parental Leave Policies. An example of a more inclusive approach to a parental leave policy is to make it available to employees regardless of gender, and to make it applicable to not only the birth of a child but also to the adoption of or new fostering of a child. (We have seen companies account for some of the increased costs of offering leave to all ‘new’ parents by differentiating between the amount of leave a primary caregiver and a non-primary caregiver might receive.)
A number of other policies can also help create a holistic approach to DEIB.
- How can hiring teams get more diverse candidates?
There are many steps hiring teams can take to increase the diversity of your candidate pool. A great first step is to diversity your placement of job postings. For example, for entry level positions, consider placing ads on job boards with local community colleges, with HBCUs, with diversity offices at colleges, and at community centers. For job requiring more specialization, look for slack and other community boards and social media groups that specialize in those spaces. This helps your organization move beyond the traditional candidates who might be referred by current employees and into new networks. There are also a lot of industry and community groups that work specifically with different underrepresented communities. For example, here in Salt Lake we have the Utah Black Chamber, which provides a jobs board. There is also the Women Tech Council, which works to increase the representation of women in tech jobs. Creating connections with these communities can help us diversify our recruiting network. One of my team members saw our company’s job posting that I had sent to the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, and joined our applicant pool that way. You can also look at hiring an outside recruiter for the purpose of helping diversify the applicant pool by expanding the different networks you can reach out to.
In addition to diversifying the pool of candidates, you should work to train your hiring teams to recognize bias, including unconscious bias, and create procedures to minimize it in the hiring process. That is a full conversation in and of itself, but our DEI Assessment tool gives a number of suggestions on how to do this.
The webinar ‘Getting Your Diversity and Inclusion Program Off The Ground: Bringing HR and Legal Teams Together’ was sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber’s Diversity Council.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved with the Salt Lake Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts or have a suggestion for an upcoming DEI webinar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.