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Newsletter Week 12

Week 12

This week: 

  • How can companies help employees feel like they belong? Dr. Lauren Jackman of Medallia talks about leveraging social science concepts in a corporate environment.

  • Are you using data to drive your D&I efforts? Be careful, warn Stanford researchers.

  • The UK pay disclosure laws are driving companies to make concrete changes in hiring, benefits and recruiting efforts.

  • What makes men champion gender equity? Yes, daughters, but also having the experience of being marginalized themselves.


Today in D&I In Practice

Building Belonging: A Social Scientist in the Corporate World Talks About D&I  (D&I Original/Subscribers Only)

CRM “unicorn” Medallia is widely expected to IPO later in 2019. We caught up with their head of D&I, Dr. Lauren Jackman, to learn how she is applying academic social science principles to Medallia’s diversity, inclusion and belonging programs. 

I admit to mixed feelings about belonging. In the D&I context, belonging is the idea that you belong where you are. You are a full and equal member of the group. This has often been interpreted by companies as being able to show up as your authentic self at work.

The importance of belonging is well-proven in psychology and in education. One key study showed that, when African-American college students are reassured that they belong at college, they are more likely to do well in school. And many companies, especially in Silicon Valley, have enthusiastically embraced belonging.

Dr. Jackman strongly supports belonging in the corporate environment. But she points out that belonging programs need to be implemented with thought:  “Some people just basically say, "You belong!", which is a tough message, especially if you feel like you don't. So helping people think for themselves about what would or wouldn't make them feel a sense of belonging. And normalizing the notion that you may not feel a sense of belonging right away.”

I like the idea of empowering employees by coaching them on how to create a sense of belonging. And Medallia is clearly doing it right—in the context of a portfolio of initiatives that support individuals from diverse backgrounds.

However, it’s important that companies not push the responsibility for belonging completely back onto the individual. After all, there are glaring structural inequalities in most aspects of corporate life. Focusing on belonging without also addressing the structural problems can backfire.

More in News and Research

1. The Mistake Companies Make When They Use Data to Plan Diversity Efforts (Harvard Business Review)

When thinking about employees from under-represented groups, it’s important to go beyond the data and use higher-touch, more descriptive ways of understanding the employee experience.

These Stanford authors find that companies can lose important information when they aggregate data up to statistically significant levels (such as looking at “women” rather than “Asian women” or “black women.”) D&I is increasingly data-driven (a good trend), but focusing exclusively on data can mean inadvertently excluding extremely under-represented groups of people. Companies need to develop a portfolio of evaluative techniques to make sure they are treating everyone equitably.


2. UK Fund Groups Need to Address Sobering Gender Pay Gap Figures (Financial Times)

Pay disclosure laws in the UK continue to pay off. A recent survey by the Investment Association shows that more asset management companies are taking concrete steps to close the pay gap.

According to the IA: “...just over half [of companies surveyed] had made efforts to avoid the use of gender coded words in job ads. Almost nine in 10 had enhanced their parental pay policies, such as offering more weeks of fully paid leave during time off, while 38 per cent ran programmes aimed at getting women into senior roles.”

These steps are specifically aimed at closing the pay gap (the difference between the median wage for men and women), which is different from equal pay for equal work. Equal pay means making sure women and men are paid similarly when they do similar work. Closing the pay gap means recruiting and retaining more women in higher-paying jobs.


3. What Motivates Men to Champion Gender Diversity?  (SWE blog)

Most importantly, recognizing it exists. This requires knowing some facts about gender bias (explicit and implicit) as well as building empathy. Not surprisingly, having daughters helps build empathy, and men with daughters are more likely to support gender equity in the workplace. It’s not a cure-all, though--there’s also evidence suggesting that men with daughters can see their own daughters as the exception, not the rule.

Interestingly, men who have a strong sense of fair play, or who have been marginalized themselves in the past, are also more likely to support gender equity. Unconscious bias training is increasingly incorporating this idea: asking people to think about a time when they felt left out or excluded from a group at the start of a session. Anecdotally, facilitators say that this sets the stage for more empathy during the training. 


We’re Also Reading...

These articles aren’t necessarily directly connected to the workplace, but have interesting insights about diversity and inclusion in society at large. 

L.A. Women Sue Uber, Saying It Failed to Warn Them of Sexual Assaults by Fake Uber Drivers (LA Times)

Rare Overtime Protest by Chinese Tech Workers Goes Viral (Business Insider)

Microsoft is Overhauling How It Investigates HR Disputes (Quartz)


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