Beth Axelrod on how to ensure diversity

Interesting and sensible stuff from Beth Axelrod, head of HR at eBay on how to do it….

“Just ensuring that the basic conditions of a meritocracy are in place is a good start. Being aware, on a systematic basis, of how we unintentionally interpret women’s and men’s personal communication styles differently. And being careful to ensure that the assessment and promotion processes do not inadvertently misinterpret those styles—for either gender. So when someone says that a woman is either too timid or too aggressive, ask if she is any more timid or aggressive than the male counterpart whose behavior we wouldn’t comment on. Simply having somebody in the room who listens for those unintended biases in interpreting styles is very helpful.

Also, ensure that the promotion process doesn’t get diverted in unhelpful ways. Ensure that the tendency for women not to raise their hands for jobs doesn’t get interpreted as a lack of ambition. And make sure that the promotion process systematically identifies women in the pipeline, not because women should be given an advantage in the promotion process but because they shouldn’t be inadvertently overlooked. I do think that heightened awareness and a little more vigilance can ensure that the system itself doesn’t overlook, misinterpret, or inappropriately assess the female talent in the organization.”

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