Coming Together: Diversity In The Workplace

Elizabeth Sobel our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 7/30/2019 3:40 PM
Diversity. It’s a hot topic fused into every discussion from the board room to the upper echelons of government. And it’s more than the gender pay gap. It’s about bringing people together with different backgrounds, ideologies, processes, and creative persuasions. This is how you create your dream team – different ideas focused on a common goal. 

We all know this at our core, but what does it mean to put it into action? In our 2019 Salary Guide, we covered a wide spectrum of how to hire and retain employees and within it discovered where the diversity gaps lay within the Data & Analytics industry. Marketing & Insight roles may have had the smallest gap, but Data Science teams had the largest. On the heels of our Salary Guide, keep an eye out for our upcoming Annual Diversity Report.

But before we can do anything, we need to talk about culture. Specifically, changing our business culture to embrace diversity and inclusion. Did you know this change could help attract top talent and drive stronger teams to more innovative results?

How to Put Diversity Initiatives Into Practice


According to a 2018 study from McKinsey, diverse companies from their general workforce to their leadership are 33 percent more likely to have higher profitability than their competitors who are not as diverse. For gender diversity, the margin is 21 percent.

Add to this, government regulations, candidates’ evaluation of diversity in an organization, and the company’s own plans to improve their efforts, and the task seems daunting enough. Diversity questions are no longer relegated to the just one group or another, now the question comes from every direction. Every location. 

Below are just a few ways to begin your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

  • Be Open to New Things and Establish a Sense of Belonging. Create a space where each person can bloom and shine. Establish a connection in which people are relaxed and can be themselves. Give them opportunities to create and engage in the workplace.
  • Leadership is Key. Lead by example. Show empathy and avoid making diversity and inclusion the exclusive domain of HR. This is a time for everyone to get involved, to understand, and to remember why diversity is important. It’s more than ticking a box and it’s not one-size fits all. But each step forward is for the betterment of the business.
  • Make Inclusion Part of Your Company Culture. Don’t think of diversity and inclusion as a one-day workshop. This is the time where you bring everyone together to learn what it means to be inclusive. Have you ever felt out of place or uncomfortable in a situation? Did anyone come to include you into the goings on or were you left to your own devices? Put yourself in other’s shoes and have your team do the same. Then identify behaviors and build new habits which support open and honest communication. It is okay for people to disagree, it’s what leads to real change. The key is to not let biases be mistaken for healthy discussion.
  • You are Your Brand. Wear it Well. Company culture and brand are linked. They are infused in the products and services you offer to the world. Does your company culture of diversity reflect that of your customer base? What do you want your brand to say? How do you want to be known as a company? What new idea might you come up with divergent voices giving their thoughts and opinions?

These are just a few of the ways you begin to establish a diverse and inclusive culture in your business. Now is the time to adapt your processes to scale for these behaviors. Ask yourself about the makeup of your meetings. Who attends? Who speaks? Is anyone being left out whose input you value?

People First, Then Data


As companies struggle to begin their diversity initiatives, there are still some caveats. The first is to remember you’re hiring people, not the data on a spreadsheet. Every business knows the importance of data and People Analytics is no different. But the problem begins with too small numbers as businesses try to pinpoint where they need to improve their diversity efforts. 

Limited data about certain groups within the larger can be misleading. So, while it may seem counterintuitive, the answer is to broaden categories. Rather than focus on ethnicities, age, background consider the group overall. It’s the breaking down of demographics, where businesses begin to misstep on their path to diversity.

So, what are some steps you can take to help improve your diversity initiatives? Well, here are a few to get you started.

  • Avoid sample-based analyses. Focus on a range of outcomes. For example, are women represented well? What about women of color? Is there a wider variety of ages? Is the male contingent homogenous or are different demographics represented?
  • Talk to employees and dig past first glances. Interviews with staff help to remind you these are people who cannot be defined by a statistic. It’s during this time you can learn more about them, their struggles, aspirations, and cultural insights. Descriptions take into account surface information such as race, gender, socio-economic status, and so on. Decisions based on data ripple through people’s careers and can affect their livelihoods.
  • Ensure managers are engaged as allies. Just as leadership is key to ensuring the company culture embraces diversity, so too are the managers. It is they who are crucial as they make key hiring decisions, determine projects, and develop employees for advancement. Leadership offers an overview, but it’s the managers who shape the day-to-day of the employee experience. 

One Final Thought…


Most of us don’t start out intending to exclude anyone, but we naturally gravitate toward people like us or whom we imagine can best benefit our business. But when we open ourselves up to the possibilities of a more diverse workforce, the possibilities are endless. To begin, however, we must understand where the problems are, and from there fix them.

At Harnham, we’re proud to be diverse in our company culture. In our inaugural Diversity Report, we showcased our near 50-50 split within our leadership and our efforts to be inclusive throughout our organization. 

If you’re interested in Big Data and Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.

For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com

For our Mid-West and East Coast Teams, call (212) 796 - 6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.

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