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Fostering Greater DEI in the Workplace: The Friday Group’s Recommendations*

Seymour Adler

The Friday Group, a group of New York City I-O psychologists and practitioners, has been in continuous existence for almost 50 years.  What started as an informal network of colleagues that met periodically from various business and academic organizations has emerged as a social network that meets every 3 weeks for 1 hour (on a Friday) via ZOOM.  This has allowed us to engage some of our members who have moved from the NY area while continuing our ongoing practice of discussing contemporary workplace issues.  A fulsome review of our history and evolution can be found in Moses and Kraut (2014).

Several months ago, our discussion turned to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).  One of our members raised this seemingly simple question: “If we, as I-O psychologists, could suggest one current employment practice that if stopped could enhance DEI efforts, what would this be?”  We asked all our members to provide one idea but also expanded the challenge to include not only stopping a practice but also to identify activities that could facilitate DEI in the workplace.

The following table is the results of several months of intense discussion and input.  Some things should be kept in mind as you review this table.

  1. It is not a finished product but rather the basis for some alternative thinking on a very complex topic.  We are publishing this in TIP to start a dialog among our colleagues.  We decided against developing an all-inclusive technical paper in favor of presenting ideas that are designed to stimulate thinking and practice.
  2. We focused on four elements of talent identification and management: preemployment decisions, hiring decisions, career development decisions, and organizational practices.
  3. We decided to label the changes as “Stop Relying On” and “Establish and Maintain” rather than to present this as a series of best practices in order to stimulate further discussion.  There is no intent of trying to align the Stop Relying On items with the Establish and Maintain ones.
  4. It is a “cry from the heart.”  We are both practitioners and academics with long careers in I-O and have watched SIOP evolve into a thriving and respected organization.  We have many Friday Group members with rich experiences in talent identification and development and wanted to use this vehicle to inspire changes in some of our traditional practices while encouraging new ideas as well.
  5. There may be some obvious recommendations, such as discontinuing, unless empirically supported, traditional “requirements” that necessitate a college degree or x years of work experience.  There are other far more subtle changes suggested, such as rethinking the reward practices for recruiters from simply filling positions quickly to focusing on effective placements in the organization.  As one of our members noted, although some things may be easy to measure, they may not be that important, whereas the more important things are often complex and, therefore, are often not effectively measured.
  6. We believe the solutions to achieving DEI are multifaceted, and most organizations will need to consider both hiring and development practices related to DEI as well as the key organizational practices that impact DEI.
  7. The following table is not the final answer for talent identification and management.  But hopefully, it is a start.

Actions That Foster Greater DEI in the Workforce: Stops and Starts

Recommendations From the Friday Group: October 2021

Practices

Stop relying on

Establish and maintain

Preemployment decisions

  • Using technology with built-in bias.
  • Using social media scraping tools when making personnel decisions.
  • Including educational requirements from job posts unless mandated by law or shown to be job relevant.
  • Practice of rewarding recruiters in terms of “time to fill” position.
  • Using generalized experience requirements that are not validated.
  • Ensure that AI algorithms and vendors can back up all claims of fairness.
  • Use clearly defined and clearly job-related KSAOs in all job posts.
  • Reward recruiters and hiring managers who identify and recommend a slate of diverse hires.
  • Establish recruiter, organizational, business unit, and functional scorecards that ask questions focused on assessing performance in hiring a more diverse workforce.

Hiring decisions

  • Using any selection procedure that negatively impacts the entry of women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups into organizations or as a gateway to professional organizations unless the selection procedure can be shown to be job related and essential for performance.
  • Unless mandated by law or justified by a validity study, requiring
    • a college degree
    • arbitrary number of years of experience
  • Allowing teams to hire entry-level employees without obtaining professional input.
  • Relying only on senior managers for referrals for intern positions instead of casting a wider net for more diverse candidates.
  • Replace these practices by identifying the skills required in a target job and assess only for them.

Career development and reward and recognition decisions

  • Relying on training (such as anti-bias training) as the only solution to mitigate or reduce all forms of employment bias at work.
  • Using forced ranking performance ratings based on forced distributions or numerical groupings during succession planning discussions.
  • Develop clear behavioral expectations regarding what is required in a future assignment and provide examples of how a candidate demonstrates these.

 

Organizational practices

  • Treating diversity as a simple subject with a simple solution.
  • Underfunding and under-resourcing the chief diversity officer position.

 

  • Go beyond race when dealing with diversity: Include women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented groups.
  • Increase diversity at the highest levels in ranks of HR management.
  • Clarify and reward behaviors that are supportive, inclusive, and create equity.
  • Recruit and create a board position with DEI responsibility and insure inclusion on compensation committee.
  • Restructure CDO position as a direct report of CEO with sufficient resources to effect changes.
  • Publicly report enterprise-level diversity data on an annual basis.
  • Tie annual bonuses of leaders to their performance on hitting diversity-specific goals.
  • Track diversity performance at the team level to address not only glass ceilings but glass walls.
  • Develop mechanisms for sharing internal best practices both internally and externally.

 

Note

* The following Friday Group members participated in developing this document: Seymour Adler, Jurgen Bank, Michael Bazigos, David Binder, Erica Desrosiers, Victoria Berger-Gross, Lynn Collins, Robin Cohen, Ron Festa, Andrea Goldberg, Harold Goldstein, Sandra Hartog, Seth Kamen, Matthew Kleinman, Judy Komaki, Allen Kraut, Joel Moses, Mathian Osicki, Lorraine Stomski, Brian Ruggeberg, Jeffrey Saltzman, Charles Scherbaum, Nancy Tippins, Christina Norris-Watts, Anna Marie Valerio.

Reference

Moses, J. L., & Kraut, A. (2014). The Friday group, after 40 years: A model for informal I-O groups. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 52(2), 117–120.

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