Apple just hired its first vice president of inclusion and diversity. In announcing the appointment, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, called diversity a “readily solvable issue.”
Oddly, the company hasn’t seemed all that ready to solve the issue, given the fact that its previous diversity champion left Apple in 2015 and the role remained vacant until now. Plus, despite a years-old strategy to hire more women and underrepresented minorities, Apple’s workforce remains largely white and male. According to its latest diversity report, the company hired only 3% more females and 2% more African-American tech employees in the U.S. compared to 2014.
Apple is by no means alone in this diversity dearth. Bersin by Deloitte issued new research showing that while 71% of organizations aspire to have an “inclusive culture” only 12% actually have one.
Why are so many companies falling short on inclusiveness and diversity?
According to Bersin, the reason is pretty straightforward: only 6% of companies actually tie compensation to diversity outcomes. In other words, business leaders and managers are rarely held accountable for actually raising levels of inclusiveness and diversity. Bersin found that companies with truly inclusive cultures focus on personal accountability, measurement and transparency to achieve quantifiable diversity results.
Inclusive Cultures Are Winning Cultures
When you look at the bottom line, it’s clear that building an inclusive culture is good for business. Bersin’s research shows that companies with inclusive cultures are:
- Six times more likely to be innovative than those that lack inclusive cultures.
- Six times more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively.
- And twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
Despite outcomes like these, inclusive cultures continue to be the exception rather than the rule. To make matters worse, diversity has been paid so much empty lip service that “diversity fatigue” has actually set in at many organizations.
A recent HR Magazine article offered insights from Toby Mildon, the BBC’s diversity and inclusion lead, on how companies can fight diversity fatigue. One of his recommendations is that employers identify where diversity leaks are occurring in business processes. In the BBC’s case, one of these leaks was found in the selection stage of the recruiting process. To plug the leak, the company created a blind test of candidates’ skills. “It consisted of a task they would be expected to do in their first 100 days on the job,” Mildon said. “We saw a 300% increase in ethnic minority candidates selected for interview after introducing that.”
As the article also points out, organizations with good gender diversity are about 15% more profitable than those without it. If sound business ethics aren’t enough to convince employers to fight through their diversity fatigue, hopefully bottom-line results like this will be.
For such a readily solvable issue, there’s still a lot of progress to be made.