Inclusion by Design: The Right Decisions For The Biggest Impact

Kristen Flores
July 22, 2020

Watch the Webinar replay

In this Webinar conversation hosted by PowerToFly, Frida Polli, CEO & Founder of pymetrics; Iris Bohnet, Academic Dean at Harvard Kennedy School; and Renee Wittemyer, Director of Program Strategy and Investment at Pivotal Ventures discuss effective strategies to combat bias and create a more diverse workforce. Read more about our key takeaways below: 

Hold yourself accountable:

Many companies fear if they have a clear understanding of their diversity numbers, they will ultimately be held accountable for lack of diversity within their workforce. However, it is impossible to make and track  progress without having a sense for what the baseline numbers look like -- even if they are far from the desired state. The best practice is to know where your organization stands and ultimately take the necessary steps to improvement, as systemic bias can only be attacked with systemic intervention. At every level within an organization, deliberate changes towards improving diversity are going to be the driver of change. Intentionality behind decision-making is the best strategy to improve your workforce, which means clearly understanding where you are starting, and where you would like to end up.

Be intent-driven:

Intent is a key component behind making the right decisions to achieve the biggest impact. Setting intentional company goals aimed at bolstering diversity will be highly beneficial. One example mentioned in this webinar is to implement a proportionality rule, so that each level is as diverse as the level below. In addition, anonymizing resumes and performance reviews can help remove an immense amount of bias from these processes. 

While diversity training may seem like the obvious first step, it is proven to not be very effective. It is a great tactic to raise awareness to the issue, but it is not the solution -- while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers. The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a couple of days, and a number of studies suggest that it can activate bias or even spark a backlash. The solution is not a straightforward answer but it is a combination of looking inwards to our own biases and debiasing our systems. 

On a small-scale, there are many strategies that can be applied to the workforce itself. As discussed by the panel, allyship and support are the most valuable resources we can offer one another. In addition, it is crucial to encourage tough conversations and speak up about racism and discrimination publicly across the organization. 

Hold Inclusion at the core: 

Setting intentional goals, such as the few mentioned above, is an effective step to create a diverse workforce. However, none of these practices will work if there is no space for inclusion at the organization’s core -- diversity can never be holistically welcomed without an appreciation for the necessity of inclusion. One initiative is not going to solve the diversity issue, but being driven by intent and inclusion will bring us all significantly closer to achieving the greatest impact. It is crucial for people to take advantage of the current momentum of intolerance of racism, sexism, and discrimination within the workplace. There is immense power in operating as an inclusive collective.


If you’d like to learn more about how the importance of acknowledging human prejudice in order to push D&I initiatives forward, continue reading here.