Diversity and Inclusion: 5 Tips for Getting Started

Diversifying your company isn’t a one-time solution that comes with a training video. It’s a fundamental shift in how you operate at all levels of your organization.

Prostock Studio Welcoming New Employees
Prostock-studio- Welcoming New Employees

“Diversity and inclusion” have become familiar words throughout the world over the last few months – in fact, Google Trends shows a definite spike. This isn’t a surprise, given the protests taking place this summer.

But, workplace diversity and inclusion have been seriously discussed for many years.

In 2015, McKinsey and Company released a study finding that more gender, and especially more ethnic diversity in senior leadership, tends to equal higher financial return. In fact, they state for every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8%.

Why? McKinsey explains that more diverse companies are better able to win top talent and improve decision-making as well as increase employee satisfaction. They are more innovative and able to anticipate shifts in consumer needs, which can lead to a competitive edge.

Since 2015, this study has been repeated and the findings show that the companies with more diversity are still realizing the benefits. Companies that don’t are lagging behind.

But, how do you get to the point where you have enough diversity to start seeing these results? Only 7.4% of the 2020 Fortune 500 CEOs were women – even fewer were CEOs of color -- so obviously the world is still struggling with this question. The people encountered at most industry conferences are white and male.

This is the reason that CarriersEdge, in cooperation with Women in Trucking, are launching the D&I (diversity and inclusion) Index next March. This program will survey trucking companies in the United States and Canada and find best practices that are working in the industry and highlight companies that are particularly successful.

Diversifying your company isn’t a one-time solution that comes with a training video. It’s a fundamental shift in how you operate at all levels of your organization.

Here are 5 tips that will help get you started.

1. Take stock

What diversity exists in your company right now? You need to benchmark. Before you can start to improve anything, look at where you currently are. How many women do you employ? How much ethnic diversity is there? How many people speak more than one language? Come from another country? Have a disability?

What diversity exists in your supervisory and senior management teams? Do you have a leadership program? Who is currently participating?

How are you recruiting new talent? How diverse are the new entrants to your company? What organizations are you working with and how much diversity do they have?

2. Start including other voices

Most companies have someone who is “not like the others.” When there are only one or two people in an organization who are different – be it gender, ethnicity or ability – those people are not paid much attention.

Who is represented on your committees? What are the mechanisms for getting feedback? In a meeting, who dominates the conversation?

You will be surprised at what you uncover when you start asking people for feedback and suggestions – especially those who need a little support. Trucking companies have already had great success with people who are hearing-impaired, have missing limbs, struggle with PTSD or are on the autism spectrum, to name a few. Those companies have benefited from reaching out because some of those accommodations work well for others.

3. Start learning

There are many resources out there that can help guide conversations about diversity and start to build a more inclusive workplace. Watch a TED talk or pick a book about unconscious bias or microaggressions and read it with your senior management team. Reading a book written by an author who does not look like you or is differently abled can give you incredible insight.

When you have employees from other countries or cultures, find out more about their culture and their experiences. You can start with a conversation and follow up by reading an article or two. Are there employees who celebrate different holidays or have diet restrictions that you could better support? Have you ever thought about participating in a Pride parade?

Find out the community organizations that exist around you that can help your organization learn. There are several groups representing ethnic minorities, people with disabilities as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Invite them to speak at an event.

4. Check the company store

Almost every single trucking company has some sort of branded personal protective equipment (PPE), clothing or jewelry given out for events or milestones. But, is this swag also available for women? Does your company store offer anything in a small or medium? Are the million-mile rings only made for men? Have you asked your employees what else they might like to see?

What about your bathrooms? Are there women’s facilities (and supplies) available? Do you have transgender employees that may need consideration?

5. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable

Even with the long list of benefits, the fact is that most companies don’t have diverse leadership. Most people are comfortable working in a homogenous group, and it’s hard to change. The process of asking questions, reading, and really listening to other people can be unpleasant and frustrating – especially if your experience has been so different.

Depending on our race, gender, sexuality, religious background or culture, we all have very different experiences of the world. Acknowledging that those differences exist and being willing to listen is a big step forward to building a more diverse, inclusive and profitable workplace.