Within an organization, the rising tide of equity lifts all boats—that’s what our latest research on the Best Workplaces for Diversity reveals. At the companies named to this list, not only did women and people of color report a more positive experience the workplace in the areas of pay, promotions, and overall daily work relative to non-winning companies, but so did white men.In short, a great work experience is not a zero-sum game.
“We consistently see longer employee tenure and stronger leadership at workplaces that stand out for equity,” noted Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work.
For a glimpse at how these leading companies build diverse, high-performing teams, we asked winning workplace and leading accounting software firm Intuit for insight into the leadership practices that helped earn its place on the list.
Controlling for bias in the hiring process“It’s not just an HR focus,” said Jennifer Correa, Vice President of Human Resources at Intuit. Business leaders across the organization dedicate their insight and resources to bettering the workplace for all employees. That begins with an approach to hiring designed to give all applicants the best opportunity to showcase what they have to offer.
Managers begin the process with discussions to make job criteria clear and consistent for every person assessing new talent. Hiring teams make a point to include women and underrepresented team members whenever possible and call on recruiters with contacts in professional organizations for underrepresented groups. (Intuit sponsors
Code 2040, which engages black and Latino engineering professionals in the Bay Area. Other nonprofits the company supports also include Vets in Tech and Yes We Code, a program in Oakland, California, that offers coding coursework and apprenticeships to people in underrepresented communities.)
Once candidates are selected, a process dubbed “Assessing for Awesome” includes sample assignments specific to the job at hand. While coding tests are standard for programming roles at tech companies, Intuit takes the concept further, asking potential administrative assistants to plan out events or tasking training specialists with presenting an interactive workshop. Managers get to see the work – not just the candidate – which helps reduce bias and gives applicants the chance to show what they’re capable of outside a traditional interview setting.
Fostering inclusivity by seeking diverse perspectives
People of color make up nearly half the workforce at Intuit. But demographics only tell part of the story.
“One of the things that can impact representation is whether or not it’s actually an inclusive environment,” Correa said. Intuit works to ensure employees feel they belong, particularly when they don’t see many people with similar backgrounds on their teams.
The company’s leadership training places a heavy emphasis on the inquiry stage of decision making. Both executives and front-line managers are expected to seek out different points of view and invite disagreement. This practice helps everyone feel comfortable giving input while challenging leaders to consider perspectives that differ from their own.
Correa also pointed out her organization’s emphasis on results when assessing employees’ work. Everyone brings a different approach to their positions. Managers focus on what team members accomplish, rather than on individual variations in how they achieve it. This helps eliminate unconscious bias by leaders whose backgrounds might make them inclined to approach problems differently.
Communication: Tying it all togetherIntuit not only values listening, it also acknowledges the different ways people speak. The company gives employees an assessment of their “style of influence,” a framework that helps quantify the ways people process ideas and emotions while engaging with their co-workers. These traits are informed by someone’s personality and the cultural background they bring to the workplace.
Managers rolled out the program a couple of years ago during monthly check-ins with their team members. Today, employees can even post their style of influence with their profile in the company directory. “That’s been helpful in us understanding each other,” Correa said.
At the corporate level, Inuit completed a pay equity analysis for women and minorities. What’s more, it published the results online for employees, job candidates and shareholders to see. This type of transparency is central to an ongoing conversation about how Intuit employees of all backgrounds feel about their work and their place in the organization.
“I think the main message is that there is no silver bullet. This takes time. We’ve been at this for many years, and we’ve tried a lot of different things,” said Correa. “Our leaders hold themselves accountable for driving change in this space. And while it’s a very big focus of HR, it’s not just an HR program. It’s really business leaders driving the change.”