Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Speaker: Thank you so much for joining me. Right now, we are going to inquire into equal opportunity in your organization. The process that I have found to be useful in thinking about equal opportunity is first to know what is legally protected in the laws around diversity and anti-discrimination as a baseline. I think of the laws as like this is like the minimum that you're shooting for. In the United States and especially in California, California has some more protections around diversity.
The different characteristics that are protected are race, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, and veteran status. Then there's another protection that's called perceived as, so if a person doesn't identify with one of these characteristics, but they are perceived as having one of these characteristics, then that's also a protection that there is.
When you start to look at equal opportunity in your organization, an entryway into that to start looking at what you've got going on is to look at your county's census or your city's or your town's census depending on where you're located and the diversity that you want to reflect inside of your organization. It could be your city or it could be your county.
When I do this kind of analysis for my organization, I use the county because I want to reflect the diversity for the entirety of my county. My county has quite a split between the types of folks that live in one part of the county and the types of folks that live in another part. You can access this information through the census and the census is an imperfect tool. The census does not actually reflect all of the variety of people who live in an area.
Again, this is like a baseline place to start where you can start to understand where you have gaps and places to grow in. This isn't like the be-all end-all of what diversity looks like where you live. Lots of different populations are undercounted in the census for all different kinds of reasons. Many of them being economic and just are reflections of the systems of oppression that have been in play for many, many millennia.
The first question that I typically guide people into when they're doing this inquiry is look at the census for your county and then look at your employee pool. Does your employee pool, the people who work for you, do they reflect the population of your county in all these different ways, in a variety of races and colors and ancestry, and a variety of age and a variety of disability and veteran and marital status and parents and not parents and gender identity and all of these different things.
Are each of them represented in your employee pool in some way and if they're not, then that's where you have room to grow. That does not mean that you say, okay I have a homogenous group of employees like for example maybe all of my employees are my same gender, they're my same age, they're my same socioeconomic background, they're the same color as I am. That doesn't then mean that you go and say, okay I need to find this many of this kind of people and add them into my organization.
Instead, you inquire into the unconscious bias that you have and why you are choosing a group of people that all look like you, for example. If that's happening, there are ways that you're going out to find your staff that are for some reason selecting this type of group of people. You can look at how you're going out to find your staff. There are reasons why your company is being perceived as a place that we'd be unwelcoming to all these different types of people.
You can look at why that is happening. Instead of making a list of like, okay I'm going to try to find these kinds of people. It is instead looking at what you are doing and the practices that you have and changing your own practices in order to be welcoming to a variety of different kinds of people and to be supportive of a variety of different kinds of people.
I hope that this guide of inquiry into equal opportunity in your organization is helpful to you. If you have questions or you want support, please feel free to reach out. I'm here to help you go down this road.
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