Black History Month is a time every year to highlight marginalized voices and reflect on the progress made within the workplace to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is especially relevant this month to spotlight voices and perspectives that often go unheard. Diversity and inclusion has become a trending topic in the workplace, but one element that receives little attention is the importance of diverse senior leadership in an organization.
Building a diverse workforce is equally about retention as it is about hiring. Charisse Jones, Jayme Fraser and Dian Zhang in the USA Today article “Racial justice in the workplace: In-depth look at diversity’s struggle to crack corporate boardrooms” outline that although companies have taken a more transparent approach to combating the lack of diversity in corporate America, the problem still persists. Over a year later, specifically in tech, almost 50% of white employees had professional positions compared to 20% of Hispanic workers and less than 10% of Black workers. The professional gap between white and Black employees in tech was three times more than the overall labor force. A report showed that S&P 500 companies whose boards had more than 30% people of color experienced a 4% bump in revenue compared to the previous year. More than ever diversity in senior leadership is imperative to a business’s bottom line. Hiring, promoting and retaining diverse talent is imperative to prioritizing DEI across all levels. Having senior leaders who look like you and share lived experiences with you is a valuable facet of workplace culture and key to fostering successful mentoring relationships across a workforce.
As a woman of color in a primarily white workforce, having BIPOC leaders to look up to gives me confidence that there is indeed a place for people who look like me to be able to directly impact the trajectory of the company. Additionally, having someone who is senior to talk to about shared struggles, wins, and the journey to being a recognized leader is an invaluable experience. Seeing diverse leaders thrive and foster change motivates me and others who have been underrepresented in the workplace to put faith in their companies, leading to great work and morale across the organization.
Retention comes as a result of transparency from leaders, the willingness to listen and take part in difficult but necessary conversations, and the provision of adequate resources for employees to feel heard and learn more. I feel empowered as a woman of color at Hotwire because leaders have committed to being transparent about their DEI initiatives. Our progress report shows that not only has Hotwire made progress toward having a workforce that accurately represents population diversity, but also in fostering a more inclusive work environment by providing safe places for employees to learn and share.
However, above all of this, the most meaningful insight provided within this report is the assertion that there is always more to be done. DEI is an ongoing endeavor, and companies must continue to look at ways to refresh how they operate and new avenues to invest time and money into building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce at all levels. As a person of color, I want to feel seen and represented among senior leaders at my place of work. I appreciate that Hotwire continues to be transparent and take accountability, bringing us one step closer to representing the diverse talent that the communications world has to offer.
DEI is an ongoing endeavor, and companies must continue to look at ways to refresh how they operate and new avenues to invest time and money into building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce at all levels.