- The belief that large companies can have a bigger impact on addressing and enacting societal changes has made being mum on certain topics even more controversial.
- A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA’s School of Law found that 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ professionals faced discrimination at work based on their sexuality or gender.
- Employees are increasingly willing to leave their employer if they do not do enough to support the causes of marginalized communities.
Neutrality in Corporate America is no longer feasible.
Now more than ever, the public expects companies to take a stance when it comes to social and political issues.
The belief that large companies can have a bigger impact on addressing and enacting societal changes has made being mum on certain topics even more controversial.
But this means much more than appeasing the masses – it also means retaining top talent.
A report from Edelman shows that 46% of 2,000 respondents do not believe that their employer has done enough to address system racism.
Employees are increasingly willing to leave their employer if they do not do enough to support the causes of marginalized communities.
In the era that is the Great Resignation, companies cannot afford to lose their best workers, especially due to ignoring or making vague attempts at nurturing a diverse workforce.
Why DEI Is Essential For Business Longevity
Implementing DEI strategies has long played a role in workplace politics, but there continues to be limitations in how effective these policies are.
A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA’s School of Law found that 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ professionals faced discrimination at work based on their sexuality or gender.
So, what exactly can companies do to address this discrepancy? For starters, identify the core problem.
Understanding where biases derive from and how they can impact company culture is key here.
While sharing posts on social media is certainly a step in the right direction, Bambee CEO and founder Allan Jones agrees that organizations need to talk the talk and walk the walk
In discussion with Allwork.Space, Jones provides insight into how his experience being a person of color (POC) and member of the LGBTQ+ community within the tech industry has impacted his leadership style.
Some quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Allwork.Space: As someone who is a POC and member of the LGBTQ+ community, what is the biggest red flag you notice from companies during Pride Month or any other month that celebrates diverse voices?
Allan Jones: The tech ecosystem embraced me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and created a space of openness. Back [in the early 2000s], we were a long way from legalizing gay marriage and almost no tech company hosted Pride events in June or even so much as changed their logo in support.
Companies today get flack for changing their logos and have memes poking fun at embracing a pride logo in June. I reject the judgment given to corporate America and think sending those signals is really, really, REALLY important.
It’s beautiful to see corporations across the United States add a rainbow flag to their logos during Pride Month. Granted it’s a small gesture, but it is a significant one for the LGBTQ+ members of those companies. It represents the majority of corporations saying they accept and embrace people for whom they love.
That said, one of the most prominent issues I see is companies embracing a pride logo and preaching about diversity externally, but not internalizing those same beliefs into operationalized practices that genuinely embrace people for the real differences.
The conflict — and it is a valid one — is in the hypocrisy that sometimes exists when a corporation preaches one thing but actually practices a set of different principles. I think embracing the narrative of inclusion both internally, as well as externally, is the next set of important milestones that corporations should set out to achieve.
Allwork.Space: How can HR leaders better address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts within the workplace?
Allan Jones: What’s important is to broaden and then crystallize definitions around what diversity actually means to people, and then for companies to be authentic in how they embrace each and every one of these definitions.
A good starting point for companies is the questions they ask in interviews. Want to know if someone has grit? Ask them about a time they’ve struggled and how they persevered. Want to know if someone has resilience? Ask them how they were raised and how they got to where they are today. Want to know if someone has curiosity? Ask them about a skill they taught themselves and why.
Grit, resilience, and curiosity are all terms that companies — tech companies — say they embrace while recruiting. But more often than not, they default to someone’s résumé and scan for a Stanford MBA to determine if someone should move to the next round.
Want to create a grassroots effect inside of your organization around diversity? Outline a budget that can be used to celebrate some of the national holidays and let your employees determine how they deploy that budget into your culture.
For example, at Bambee we’ve outlined up to a $10,000 budget for Pride Month. We then gave that entire budget to our culture committee and allowed them to use it to celebrate how they deemed it appropriate and effective. The culture committee is assembled of people from all walks of life that care about diversity inside of our organization.
For Pride Month this year, Bambee is throwing a drag show where three Los Angeles-based drag queens will perform for us on our rooftop. The plan wasn’t concocted by Bambee’s executive team to celebrate Pride Month. This was an idea that came straight from the ground floor.
Allwork.Space: What are the biggest benefits of a diverse workforce?
Allan Jones: One of the biggest benefits of having a diverse workforce for me personally as founder and CEO has a lot to do with my belief that diverse teams create better outcomes.
It’s the truth. It’s less to do with how much diversity helps with recruiting. Although unique people like to see a company filled with other unique people. But for me, it’s more personal.
It is the joy I get when I hear people speaking Spanish in a corner, or when I get to have late-evening conversations with some of the LGBTQ+ employees. Or I hear about the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3: The Best of Aja. Or when my African-American and Afro Latino employees decided to throw something they coined the “Black History Blowout,” a soul food, spoken word, singing of every voice, where we taught the whole company the wobble.
It is the best feeling to see so much difference in culture reflected so organically across the company. The cherry on top is when you watch other individuals who aren’t from the culture being celebrated dive in and embrace the vibrancy of the culture that has the spotlight at that moment.
To sum it up, there is nothing like watching a couple of stiff Stanford graduate engineers doing the wobble during Black History Month.
Allwork.Space: How have you used your own experiences to develop Bambee?
Allan Jones: I am honest. At the end of 2021, we threw our annual Bambee Holiday Summit. It was a two-day event full of engagement initiatives, social events, and presentations about the company’s future. We flew everyone in from every remote location across the country into our Los Angeles headquarters, put them in hotels, and we all get to know each other.
We close it out with our holiday party, where I participate in a fireside chat where I am interviewed by a special guest. During the interview, nothing is off-limits. I answer all personal and professional questions in front of the whole company.
This year, our special guest asked me where I get my resilience and grit. My response was deeply personal. In front of hundreds of employees, I told them the first time I remember practicing written resilience was when I came out to my family.
I shared with them the initially difficult journey my parents had when I told them I was gay. I shared my story of personal discovery and finding self-love. And I opened up about how I learned the importance of authenticity through my coming out, stepping into my truth, and being who I was.
I lead this company by being honest about my experience as a man of color, honest about my experience as a gay man, honest about my experience and difficulty being both of these things in a mostly white world, while simultaneously raising capital and building companies. I don’t shy away from these traits. They are my superpowers, as every difference is to everyone else out there.