Are We There Yet? Diversity Numbers

I was recently on a road trip with some friends and the obligatory, “Are we there yet?” was asked more than a few times. After the trip, I was reflecting on this statement. Every child learns when they are in the car for any extended period of time to ask, “Are we there yet?”  Of course, my thoughts turned to how this applies to diversity numbers.

“Are we there yet” is something every D & I professional and company executive is asking. As a diversity champion I wish I could say yes to this question every time. First though, let me share two things to keep in mind when you are thinking about diversity numbers.

First, we will never be “there.” Diversity is a moving target. As people expect more from their employee experience, we evolve to better employers. As the workforce becomes more diverse, companies must continue to evolve. This is not meant to be negative. It is amazing that we live in a world that has such diversity. As humans, we need to embrace those differences.

Second idea to keep in mind about diversity numbers is basic math. Yes, math. I know for my HR brethren, math is not usually our favorite topic. But alas, it tells the story.  Take an organization of 5,000 employees. If you have a black population of 10% or 500 employees, to increase that to 11% you need two things. You would need to add (hire) 50 black employees. And you would need to not lose ANY black employees. In tech, the average attrition hovers between 10-12% on average. You actually need to hire more than 100 black employees to increase their representation.

This may explain why some folks are saying the pipeline of talent isn’t big enough to make any impactful changes. I don’t agree but it is true, we need a higher amount of candidates to change the numbers. This is where another pivot on diversity is needed. We need to stop thinking about the traditional candidate as the only option. Being open to someone who has the propensity to do the job is the way we all need to think.

So how do we answer the question if we are asked, Are we there yet? The answer is to celebrate every uptick in your numbers and treat the folks you have in a respectful and inclusive manner so they stay. Seems easy enough right?!