Article courtesy of Danny Ray Martin II at Geekletes
New York’s Barclays Center came alive when 30-year-old Chiquita Evans stepped onto the stage with tears in her eyes. She knew she could compete, but she didn’t know if she’d get the chance to show everyone else. She received that opportunity when Warriors Gaming, the esports affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, selected her in the fourth round of this year’s NBA 2K League draft. In the process, Evans made history by becoming the first woman drafted into the league.
When she took the stage, it was a beautiful moment for those of us who have watched her persevere in the face of hecklers and critics. Evans is worthy of the spotlight — her story brought hope to the countless other female players who dream of joining the league.
There aren’t many gender-integrated sports today, but esports is an arena where gender differences should be irrelevant. Should be. In reality, women are barely represented in major esports leagues. This is even more shocking when you consider a 2018 report from Nielsen indicates that women make up nearly a quarter of the U.S. esports fanbase.
Gender inequality in the esports world underscores a more significant diversity problem in many industries. Despite a few steps forward, the professional world still needs a push to embrace diversity as a true competitive advantage.
In any professional environment, a homogenous workforce can ultimately become toxic. If professionals don’t receive exposure to viewpoints and perspectives that are different from their own, it’s almost impossible to make effective branding decisions.
When businesses approach products or ideas from a limited mindset, it alienates potential customers. This happened to Estée Lauder last year, when the beauty company released a foundation line that included more than 30 shades of makeup — almost all of which catered only to white women. This decision hurt Estée Lauder’s reputation and its bottom line.
Diversity provides more than just an internal system of checks and balances; it invites diverse ideas. It makes your organization less predictable, more creative, and more capable of engaging with a wide range of people. In short, it provides a competitive edge.
While diversity and inclusion have been popular C-suite discussion topics for several years, progress on these issues has been slow. Business leaders can still seize the competitive advantage that stems from a diverse workforce. Here’s how to do it:
Start at the top.
In 2015, The New York Times published results of a study that found there were more male CEOs named John running S&P 1500 companies than there were female CEOs. That same study found that 72% of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies were white. Despite a barrage of headlines and research suggesting that companies are emphasizing diversity and inclusion, a substantial glass ceiling still exists for women and people of color. It’s up to leadership teams in every industry to help shatter it.
Promoting capable minority employees to leadership positions does more than make your business stronger — it makes it more appealing to customers and prospective team members. It provides evidence to the world that your organization offers opportunity regardless of gender, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or any other surface-level attributes. The companies that demonstrate diversity at every level will stand out from the rest.
Establish culture as a key metric.
It’s self-explanatory that assembling a diverse workforce requires you to hire a diverse set of applicants. But before you can hire them, you must attract them by creating a culture of inclusion. Minority candidates and customers will quickly be able to sense whether your culture promotes the involvement and empowerment of all people.
Do you internally and externally celebrate diverse traditions? Do staff members take diversity and inclusion courses or participate in other internal initiatives? A diverse team ensures healthy communication and transparency regarding cultural norms. If you plan to target a specific ethnic or gender group for hiring or sales purposes, employing a representative of that group — someone who understands its unique cultural language — will prove invaluable.
Overshare on social media.
Your customers, potential customers, and today’s top talent are all active on social media. You should be, too. You want them to know about the culture you’ve worked hard to build within your organization, so don’t be afraid to brag about it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms.
Similarly, social media provides a great place to share viewpoints that matter to a large portion of the population. Truly progressive companies that are pushing diversity and inclusion forward are doing so not only through inclusion marketing campaigns but also by finding the right balance between amplifying important social messages and keeping the company in the correct light.Our society has come a long way when it comes to promoting equality, but we still have plenty of work ahead of us. This is especially true in the professional world, regardless of industry. The advantages of a diverse workforce are real — Warriors Gaming certainly got better this year — but they won’t happen if all we do is talk about change. It’s time to take action.