An eye-opening penalty’s always a great way to catch people’s attention. Here’s one that will catch any GM’s breath…
Illegal discrimination may have lined the pockets of a New York Honda dealer’s owners and employees for a time, but the company’s GM is now responsible for paying $1.5 million in fines. The Federal Trade Commission won a 2020 case against the dealership and will use the money to provide redress to almost 4,000 customers who were cheated based solely on their race.
FTC penalties aside, psychological and physical safety are basic rights of all people. Yet, in an environment where certain people are discriminated against based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or any other factor, they cannot feel safe. And when an employee is uncomfortable or afraid, they can’t perform at peak potential.
As an employer, it’s up to you to start the conversation and educate your workforce about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Of course, you can’t change a company culture overnight. But you can provide information and empower your staff to work toward that change proactively.
McKinsey & Company and The Society for Human Research Management (SHRM) found that organizations in the top quartile of gender and ethnic diversity are 15% and 35% more likely to outperform less diverse organizations, respectively. Yet 97% of U.S. companies have senior management that fails to match the demographics of the workforce.
If management doesn’t reflect the workforce, neither does it reflect the community you serve. How comfortable can customers feel walking into a place of business that doesn’t reflect them?
What’s In It for You
Changing the way you do things can be expensive and time-consuming. Why should you commit the resources? Most importantly, fighting against institutionalized racism and for equality is the right thing to do. Aside from that certainty, here’s what’s in it for you:
· Improved employee productivity,
· Higher employee retention, and
· A safer work environment.
Happy Employees Are Harder Working
A diverse and inclusive workplace engenders high morale, which is linked to higher productivity. Employees who feel safe at work are more focused and engaged. Team performance is better. Employees are more innovative because they aren’t afraid their ideas will be rejected. Job satisfaction is higher.
The opposite is also true: Employees who are excluded or discriminated against are distracted. They’re more likely to “misappropriate time” by calling in sick, procrastinating, and coming in late. Productivity suffers, and in a downward spiral, so does the company’s profits.
Equality Engenders Loyalty
When employees feel respected and know they have the same opportunity to earn raises and promotions as everyone else, they’re more likely to stay. They’re also more invested in the long-term success of the company. All of that equates to up to 5.4 times higher employee retention.
Then there’s the opposite case: In an environment where some employees are not treated fairly, they aren’t interested in the welfare of the company because the company doesn’t care about them. Turnover rates are higher, and you are left to deal with the direct and indirect costs associated with high turnover.
Fair practices also engender customer loyalty, which helps you grow your revenue and bottom line over time. Consider the Federal Trade Commission’s case against Bronx Honda. How soon do you think those customers who were cheated because of their race will return to buy another vehicle? They’ll never go back, and they will spread the word in their community.
Civility and Safety Go Hand in Hand
Consider the example of an employer ordering PPE for a “standard” six-foot, 180-pound male without accounting for the hazards it presents for a five-foot-five, 180-pound female. Unconscious bias poses safety risks for the workers whose equipment doesn’t fit properly, and those who don’t get training on how to use it.
The consequences can be dire. In 2018, 5,250 workers died as a result of work-related injuries—the highest number since 2007. In a Safety+Health article, I. David Daniels, an environmental, health and safety professional for Jacobs Engineering Group, linked on-the-job discrimination to unsafe practices. He summed it up by saying, “It’s hard to really pay attention to the work and to focus on doing it safely when you don’t feel supported or protected by your employer.”
But when employers give all employees the training they need, make it priority to find PPE that fits each individual, and create an environment of psychological safety, they are also improving safety. That’s a place where employees feel “included, openly accepted, and safe from embarrassment, rejection, or fear that they’ll lose their status.”
When you start to change your practices and policies to consciously address issues of diversity and inclusion, you are taking steps to improve your company’s safety record at the same time. That, in turn, improves productivity and reduces time off the job. Inclusive policies also help you build a workforce whose demographics more closely match that of your community as a whole, which makes your customers feel more safe and included.
In short, the benefits of moving toward an inclusive environment outweigh the costs. Start your journey with the seven-course KPA training bundle.