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Not Just Hiring, Promoting

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:
A young Black female manager promotes an older employee

If you’re a professional who’s had DEI high on your priority list these past few years, you have no doubt seen the companies that have been taking astounding leaps to make their workspaces more diverse and inclusive. Progress in cultural awareness, workplace culture, and especially hiring practices have managed to foster an environment where more people from marginalized groups can get into the industry and ultimately excel.

There is a slightly problematic side to these developments, however. As it stands, most DEI efforts are directed at the hiring stage; just getting these people into the company. What about the next steps? While the strides made in DEI are absolutely commendable, there is so much more that companies can be doing - not just in hiring, but promoting.

Promotion is just as important a step in one’s career as getting hired. While getting that first foot in the door is inarguably essential, so too is being able to find other openings and move yourself forward in your profession. This is where DEI still tends to falter, and where the target demographics of DEI can still struggle. Sure, once someone has settled into a job, they are more than likely receiving support to do that job, but they may not have as much success with opportunities to grow and move up in the company. They may lack the confidence or other personal qualities to even aspire to a promotion - to say nothing of the stigmas surrounding marginalized people and people with disAbilities that never seem to go away.

This is where the companies hiring these employees can step in, and thankfully, many of the same ideas and resources that go into hiring diverse employees can translate to the promotion process. For example, creating an open and understanding work environment will greatly help the employee for far longer than just the hiring process. A space where a marginalized employee or one with a disAbility can freely talk about their struggles and receive support will do wonders for their confidence and push them to excel further. It must be said, though - do not force them to talk about it. That could have the complete opposite effect and make them feel worse about their circumstances. Discussion of personal issues is always a matter of that person’s discretion so encourage open and authentic environment for all, not just for them.

You may also consider investing in some more practical resources for DEI promotion, such as training courses or mentoring programs. It could greatly aid these employees to train them in aspects like networking to put them on a more even playing field with their more privileged colleagues. Depending on the financial requirements and the size of your company, tools like training courses are not strictly necessary, but they are definitely worth considering nonetheless. Either private training or group training are viable options, but the latter could be an especially good idea, since feeling like part of a team and overcoming the same hurdles together could help these employees feel far less isolated in their situation.

One of the underlying tenets of DEI is that gathering a workforce of widespread diversity and inclusion can only be a net positive. More backgrounds and circumstances mean more points of view to hear from, meaning more creativity overall, meaning more possibilities and success for the company as a whole. This is why promotion is just as viable and important for DEI as the hiring process. These employees need not be left on the cutting room floor. Allowing them to rise up the ranks and become a more prominent figure in a company could open opportunities for both their own careers and the entire organization.


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