Five ways to get serious about workplace diversity

To be competitive, companies can no longer afford to view workplace diversity as a soft issue and miss out on the female talent pool, — not when highly educated young women are entering the workforce in equal, if not greater, numbers than young men and certainly not when research has consistently shown the clear correlation between female leadership and positive business outcomes.

With that in mind, here are five ways to get serious about workplace diversity right now. Today.

  1. Hire Better
    Getting serious about workplace diversity starts with the hiring process. That’s not to say it’s sound practice to hand down a directive to hire more women — you should always hire the best candidate for the job and your organization.The work real work begins before the interview. Companies doing this right are able to build a pipeline of female talent by cultivating relationships between the organization and women’s schools and professional networks. They’re not afraid to say they’re investing in diversity initiatives, or to proactively state their intentions to hire, develop and promote women in their workforce.When you can set the tone for an inclusive culture in the hiring process, it can help improve the organization’s reputation and attract top-level female talent.
  2. Train Staff
    An important next step is how your organization approaches diversity from a talent management perspective. Train staff to be aware of and avoid biases that can penalize female employees.For example, the approach to hiring, evaluating and promoting employees should be about performance, capability and equal opportunity. A mandate to promote a percentage of female employees is a Band-Aid. Training your staff to combat biases and implement fair practices is a more effective solution for the long-term.
  3. Salary Audit
    You can’t talk about diversity and equality without talking about compensation. The wage gap between men and women is well-publicized, but there’s no good excuse for permitting a gulf to exist when you have the ability to close the gender wage gap.There have been some extreme examples of addressing this recently, such as the move to ban negotiation during recruiting and hiring. Another effective approach would be to conduct a thorough salary audit across the board at your organization, and then you can begin to take steps to ensure that every woman should earn equal pay for equal work as their male colleagues.
  4. Family Care Benefits
    A key to improving gender diversity throughout your organization, including building a pipeline of female leadership, is promoting a culture that supports working mothers. Leading employers are investing in programs like paid leave, flexibility and family care benefits as a way to make it easier for working moms — and all caregivers — to manage their career and family responsibilities.A strong recent example of this was earlier this year at Davos and HeForShe’s first gender parity report when Twitter COO Adam Bain outlined the company’s steps to improve gender equality, including paid parental leave, roundtables for new moms (and dads), investments in nursing rooms (and education for nursing moms) and partnering with [email protected] to provide family care benefits for employees.
  5. Commit to It
    Not to be overlooked is the importance of holding yourself accountable for improving gender diversity at your workplace. Don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground and commit to something, like HeForShe or becoming a LeanIn company.

    For example, when Care.com joined IFC’s SheWorks global partnership and became a LeanIn company, the leadership has seen those commitments as a measure of accountability. When we’re publicly committing to implementing specific programs and reporting back on the result, it really holds us to carrying out those actions and modeling positive behavior.

Michael Marty is senior vice president and general manager at [email protected] .