Tips from PowerToFly's Strategic Global Enterprise D&I executive, Dionna Smith-Keels
If you are someone who works in Diversity and Inclusion or is passionate about seeing more diversity in your company, you may feel overwhelmed about where to start. When it comes to D&I, the best place to start is at the top. If you really want the work you do to have an impact, you need to get leadership at your company to buy-in to diversity efforts.
In our Diversity and Inclusion series, we spoke with PowerToFly's Strategic Global Enterprise D&I executive, Dionna Smith-Keels, about this important topic. Here are her top 5 tips.
Understand the Big Picture First — Then Share Your Findings with Key Stakeholders
Before diving into a conversation with the leadership team, it's important to take a step back and assess the diversity efforts that are needed in your organization. Here are a few things to consider:
- Understand what diversity means to your company and work towards a diversity and inclusion mission that strives to represent the communities that the team works in and the customers that they serve.
- It's important to look at the matter at a high level to be able to show how the lack of diversity is hurting the bottom line and have an understanding of what you would like to see achieved.
- Keep in mind that if you are looking to see diversity increased in one specific area, you also need to find ways to be inclusive of other marginalized communities.
Set Bite-Sized Goals
When approaching leadership to drive more diversity, it's important to have a plan with bite-sized goals that they can visualize their team achieving. For example:
- Aligning performance goals for hiring managers around diversity. When hiring managers and recruiters have goals that they can measure, it makes the effort of seeking out diverse talent much more intentional.
- Training initiatives that explain the importance of diversity (not just how to not discriminate).
- Trainings on how to screen people in instead of out.
Find a Sponsor to Champion the Diversity Efforts
A sponsor is an executive that can take your ideas on D&I and advocate for them with the executive team. So how do you find this sponsor?
- Ensure that employee resource groups are led by individuals who are focused on diversity efforts, because they are the ones who will carry those conversations to the decision-makers.
- If your company does not have employee resource groups, choose an executive leader that openly discusses diversity and inclusion. Come to them with your ideas, solutions, and questions.
Understand the ROI for Diversity
At the end of the day, if it doesn't drive the needle forward for a company's bottom line, they are not going to stay consistently invested in a diversity effort. Here are some points to bring up when speaking with executives on D&I that will appeal to their business goals:
- Diversity in the workplace means better marketing. Having diverse voices who have a more eclectic view of what your consumers are looking for helps broaden your company's audience, widening the net for more consumers.
- Avoiding PR nightmares. Having a diverse team overlooking products, designs and social media can help avoid public relations conundrums which can costs companies millions because they didn't have the right voices to speak out when something potentially insensitive gets sent out into the world. (Like the time Gucci released a sweater resembling blackface.)
- Bolster your stance with these 5 studies that make the business case for diversity
Address Cost-Effective Recruiting Strategies
Now that your leadership team is looking at the bottom line, showing them how they can attract candidates from underrepresented backgrounds in a cost-effective way may help you get the buy-in you need. Here are a few ideas to start with:
- Get referrals from diverse employees. Employee referrals are by far one of the most effective and low-cost strategies because your employees act as an ambassador for your company and help bring in talent aligned with the organization's mission.
- Attend networking events that are targeted towards diverse professionals, and connect and recruit talent from those groups.
- Use LinkedIn to connect with and recruit diverse talent.
- Utilize resources like PowerToFly that can tailor recruiting solutions to your needs and budget.
Trying to get a leadership team on board with Diversity & Inclusion initiatives is no easy task. However, if you are able to find a sponsor to advocate for you, speak to the bottom line, and come up with a clear plan to increase the diversity efforts, your meeting with your executives will certainly be effective. Your tenacity to push this initiative shows your dedication to not just D&I, but to making the company more successful and a better place to work. We are rooting for you!
To listen to more of our conversation with Dionna on this important topic, click here.
Have other questions for Dionna about D&I? Let her know in the comments below!
There's a lot more to building an inclusive company than just hiring more people from diverse backgrounds. So, how can you build an inclusive culture that will help you attract and retain a diverse group of employees?
As part of a series on Diversity and Inclusion, we spoke with PowerToFly's Strategic Global Enterprise D&I executive, Dionna Smith-Keels, about the most effective ways to recruit and retain underrepresented talent. Learn about her four top tips below:
Write an Inclusive Job Description
One of the best ways to attract inclusive talent is by having a job description that has inclusivity baked into it. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Be open to transferable skills. For example, a recruiter has plenty of transferable skills for a sales role, but if the job description says 5 years of sales experience is required, that former recruiter may not apply to the job. Not being too rigid here could help open up your candidate pool to more diverse applicants.
- This is also true with technology. While some technical skills are not transferable, a candidate may have a software skillset with a program very similar to yours that is transferable.
- Be clear on what you do need. If your job description includes "must be able to lift 25 lbs" even for a position that does not require a person to carry any weight, you may be unintentionally excluding great applicants who are disabled.
- Be intentional in your inclusivity. Avoid using gendered pronouns for roles, and do include information about your D&I initiatives in your "about the company" section.
- Use the tools available to you. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lays out guidelines of inclusive language that can be used in your job descriptions.
Make the Interview Process Inclusive
Not only do we get to know the candidate better when we do an interview, but the candidate also gets to get a glimpse of the company and its employees during an interview. Here are some suggestions to make the interview process more inclusive:
- Have a diverse panel interviewing the candidates, even if they are pulled in from other departments. Having a diverse panel can make the candidate feel more comfortable; alternatively, a lack of diversity can be seen as a red flag. It also gives better insight into the candidate when you get feedback from people with different backgrounds.
- Do interview training. Trained interviewers can make more thoughtful decisions both during the interview and when choosing whether or not to move forward with a candidate.
Avoid Making New Hires Feel Like the "Diversity Hire"
There is little as uncomfortable as feeling like you were hired just to hit a quota. Unfortunately, we have all heard stories of whispers in a company that a person got hired (especially when for a leadership position) just because they were a woman, a person of color, etc. Here's a few suggestions Dionna had to remedy this situation:
- When any new hire comes on board, share with the team about the new team member's background and the great things they have to offer your organization. Also, let them speak at town halls so that employees can get to know them better.
- Encourage mentorship. Strong leaders from all backgrounds can be instrumental in helping marginalized people feel set up for success. It makes people feel seen and can give opportunities to those who may not have known certain doors were open to them.
Create a More Inclusive Workspace
When a company is lacking in diversity and a person from an underrepresented background joins the team, the difference is apparent to the new employee and everyone else. It can feel a little awkward at first when a woman joins an all-male team, for example. Dionna gives this tip with making your workspace feel more inclusive.
- Don't avoid the elephant in the room. If your office is new to inclusivity, the changes will seem obvious and sometimes this means having uncomfortable conversations.
Finding the right talent is one of the most important initiatives any company can take. Ensuring that diverse voices are being heard is what helps companies stand apart from their competition and thrive. Working collaboratively with those differences that help nurture success. Ask hard questions, be intentional, and provide training to help foster the inclusivity that you are searching for both when recruiting diverse talent and keeping them around for the long hall.
To hear more of Dionna's chat and to learn even more about recruiting and retaining underrepresented talent, click here.
All of the comradery and none of the cutthroats.
If I asked you to describe a typical sales culture, what would you picture? Fast-talking men in suits boozing and schmoozing with clients over drinks? Traveling vendors with briefcases upselling their wares? I, for one, would think of that scene in the first episode of Succession, where a bunch of grown-up frat stars drop f-bomb after f-bomb as they hype up the deal they're trying to close.
And I'm not the only one whose mind goes there; a 2006 academic study found that media descriptions of the sales occupation were "overwhelmingly unflattering and negative."
Sales can have a reputation for being a cutthroat, manipulative, greedy, and dishonest boys' clubs with high turnover and lots of stress. Those media portrayals were often based on real-life experiences, were they not?
But sales doesn't have to be like that. Building a healthy sales culture that encourages collaboration while still rewarding performance can help you create a sustainable sales team that lets its members and your business thrive. And a healthy sales culture is one more likely to make women and underrepresented minorities feel comfortable and flourish, bringing much-needed diversity of perspectives and market understanding to your business (and the results to show for it—companies with 45% or more women in their sales teams have higher-than-average profits).
This article will highlight common mistakes found in sales teams and provide advice from seasoned sales managers to help you build a better sales culture.
Common mistake: "You're on your own" mentality where each salesperson is responsible for figuring out best practices.
Why it happens: "Sales is hard and requires more than just product knowledge to be successful. Many companies treat sales as a natural ability and not something you can learn," says John Hill, founder of CRM customization company Adapted Growth and host of the Sales Throwdown podcast.
What you can do about it: Focus on training and mentoring and make those responsibilities an explicit part of your management meetings as well as how you grade and compensate your most senior and successful people.
And in your training sessions, consider a wide range of useful skills beyond the core components of prospecting and closing. "I train only 25% of their time in sales tactics and 75% of their time in self-development, compassion, and empathy," says Abbie Mirata, founder of non-profit Kyndly. "The more a salesperson feels confident and valued and not afraid to make mistakes, the better they will eventually become. They will also build stronger customer relationships and close more deals when they have real care and compassion for what a customer needs."
Chris Mason, senior vice president of sales distribution for HealthMarkets, suggests creating a sales culture of abundance versus scarcity: "One team member having great success doesn't detract from others' opportunity; conversely, it shows what is possible for others, that systems work [and that] products are relevant in the market." Make sales success post-mortems an agenda item on every team meeting, where the salesperson who closed the deal walks the team through what they did, what worked and what didn't, and how others can find similar success.
Common mistake: Measuring results on an individual basis versus a team basis, which leads to risk with top performers and resentment from less-than-stellar performers.
Why it happens: Salespeople are often compensated on whether or not they hit certain targets, so some managers will only measure results on a person-by-person basis, leaving behind the overall synthesis of the team's direction.
What you can do about it: Create team targets and widely publicize them. "Many years ago I worked for one company that would regularly shoot itself in the foot by setting an individual target [where] as soon as you hit it, you [could] go home," says Kim Adele, a leadership coach and former C-suite executive. "I amended it to be a team target. [It was] a small change, but the team spirit it built was amazing and we went on to have double-digit growth and a really engaged team," she says.
As vice president of accounts at youth sports advertising firm LeagueSide, Jason Smith notes the importance of making sure you are capturing and systemizing your top performers' success tactics and publicizing them to the rest of the team. "A lack of managerial leadership to replicate [success] often has led to resentment and jealousy," he says. At team meetings, give updates on overall success and on collective improvement to processes to make everyone feel like they're in it together.
Common mistake: Isolating the sales team from each other and/or from the rest of the company, leaving them feeling less attached to their team and the company's overall mission.
Why it happens: "[People] think about salespeople as lone wolves," says Yuval Shalev, co-founder of enterprise sales platform Hunterz. Because salespeople often work away from the office and may not have many full-team touch-points, fostering connection can be hard.
What to do about it: Invest in team-building within your sales team and between your sales team and the rest of the company can help reduce turnover and motivate employees, says Shalev.
For team-building with your sales group, try these ideas:
- Take group personality tests and discuss the results. Try the Myers-Briggs, True Colors, DiSC, or other test options and break up into groups by results, discussing preferences about communication strategies, weaknesses at work, and how to collaborate effectively between different types of people.
- Plan (or outsource) a scavenger hunt. If you have the time and the creativity, develop a daylong activity that requires teams to work together to solve puzzles, take pictures, and get to a certain site together (where they'll find food and drinks to celebrate with). If you'd rather have a pro take care of the logistics, look for a scavenger hunt company or book a slot at an escape room.
- Volunteer as a team. Remember and reinforce that you're all in this together by pooling your time and skills to help out in your community. Look for a Habitat for Humanity build opportunity, sign up for a shift cooking and serving dinner at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to clean up a park in your neighborhood. If you're an all-remote team, give everyone some time off to complete projects together on volunteer skills-sharing site Catchafire and have a debrief session to talk about what they worked on.
For team-building within your sales team and the rest of your company, try one of these:
- Celebrate wins together. Smith shares his team's tradition: "A Slack message [goes] out to the entire company announcing the deal, followed by the team member who closed the deal banging on a big gong in the office. It makes the whole team (not just the sales team) feel involved and pushes everyone to work harder. It's led to great feedback and a feeling of inclusion from the whole team."
- Encourage collaboration and connection with inter-departmental competitions. Mirata suggests instituting Random Acts of Kindness weeks, where employees seek to recognize or support their coworkers by cleaning up common areas, sharing unprompted compliments or kudos, or treating someone to coffee or lunch.
- Plan a company-wide field day. Invite everyone to a park, break them into 3-4 big teams with lots of mixing between departments, and put them through all the activities of your elementary school days of yore: balancing an egg on a spoon, three-legged races, blind obstacle courses where one person gives directions to someone wearing a blindfold, and as many pie-eating competitions as their stomachs can take.
Building A Healthy Sales Culture Takes Leadership
Overall, remember that a sales team manager's biggest responsibility is to lead their team to success. That means listening well, adjusting plans and processes to fit your team's needs, hiring and compensating your team fairly, and knowing when to hold your team accountable and when to celebrate. It's a tough job, but if it interests you—and you don't already have that responsibility set—check out the 500+ open Sales Manager jobs on PowerToFly.
Want to learn more about how PowerToFly can help you build a diverse and inclusive culture? Contact us here.
The Real Reasons Behind This Common Misperception, According to the Authors of It's Not You, It's The Workplace
"It's so much easier to be friends with guys. They're just so much more direct and chill."
I think most women have heard this phrase uttered by other women, and some of us have probably even said it (guilty, though thankfully I've evolved a lot in the last ten years). The notion that women are catty and difficult to get along with permeates myriad aspects of our culture: elementary school playgrounds, high school cafeterias (Mean Girls, anyone?), and eventually, the office.
As a society, we seem to accept the narrative that women often undermine other women's success at work via bullying, rumors, and other passive-aggressive tactics. Some have even hypothesized that women evolved to be catty, compensating for a lack of physical strength with cunning and manipulation.
So what's the truth of the matter? Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris sought to get to the bottom of this common (mis)perception in their new book, It's Not You, It's The Workplace.
In their recent article in the Harvard Business Review, The Persistent Myth of Female Office Rivalries, they say that while doing research for their book, they found no empirical evidence to suggest that "women are more mean-spirited, antagonistic, or untrustworthy in dealing with other women than men are in dealing with other men."
As they explain, "the best recent psychological research finds that 'one's sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership.'"
So if there's no real evidence to support this idea that women are meaner than men, then why is the idea of female rivalries in the workplace so commonplace?
Kramer and Harris have a theory: they think occasional tensions in women's working relationships are wrongly attributed to some innate female characteristic, when in reality, they can be explained by workplace discrimination.
They attribute workplace discrimination to two implicate biases:
- Gender Bias
- Affinity Bias
Because so many workplaces were designed by men for men, and continue to be led and dominated by men, our image of what a good leader looks like is colored through a very male lens: someone assertive, competitive, and strong. Gender bias manifests when we subconsciously view men as more competent and capable leaders than women because we've grown accustomed to seeing men in power; meanwhile, when women try to display those same masculine traits associated with leadership, they frequently find themselves facing backlash, caught in a double-bind.
Affinity bias is the subconscious preference to spend time with people similar to ourselves. This causes additional problems in the workplace, the authors argue, because men, who hold a majority of leadership positions in the workforce, will tend to spend time with, support, and ultimately promote more people similar to themselves (a.k.a white men).
Kramer and Harris sum it up like this:
"Affinity bias and gender bias often work in tandem to make women's same-gender workplace relationships difficult because they limit the number of positions for women at leadership tables, thereby forcing the people vying for those spots into direct competition with one another. The two forms of bias also create substantial, if not overt, pressure on women to adopt a decidedly masculine management style in order to identify with the male in-group and distance or differentiate themselves from their female peers. These dynamics can foster antagonism between women, which is then often wrongly attributed to their inherent nature, rather than to workplace circumstances."
Read the full article here and let us know what you think in the comments:
- Do you agree with Kramer and Harris's explanation?
- Why do you think the notion that women undermine women in the workplace is so widely held?