By Jared Karol
As head of Diversity and Inclusion at Yelp, Rachel Williams is responsible for creating a diverse workforce — including ethnic and gender diversity, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status, and folks who are more senior in age. But more important than the numbers, she says, is that all people from all these groups feel included. How is she going about doing that?
By emphasizing empathy.
Rachel says empathy is a theme we don’t talk about enough as it relates to diversity and inclusion. But she is trying to shift the conversation. She and her team have been focusing on creating a warm and welcoming environment rather than the actual recruiting part — laying the foundation first before going out and seeking people to join the team.
One way Williams is concentrating on empathy is by giving all new managers at Yelp training that helps them boost their EQ (emotional intelligence). We all want to have a high EQ — to be very intelligent emotionally — and to do this well we need to have an empathic outlook on the world. We’re all humans, she reminds us, so let’s take care of each other.
This approach of focusing on emotional intelligence and empathy is part of a trend Williams is seeing where companies are beginning to to talk about inclusion more than diversity. By way of example, she references Jeffrey Siminoff from Twitter, and the title he chose for himself: Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity. This tweak on the conventional title shows that inclusion is much more important.
We know that diversity makes us brighter. Diverse teams also increase employee engagement by thirteen times, according to a study conducted in 2014 by Round Peg. This is good of course because it reduces turnover and increases productivity. It gets better when you add inclusion into the equation; you get 82 times the engagement. This is huge! And it’s very clear that if you don’t have inclusion to go along with the diversity, the positive effects of that engagement are totally mitigated.
In short, then, diversity doesn’t matter if you don’t have inclusion.
The work Rachel and others are doing is shifting the conversation towards inclusion in very meaningful and tangible ways — creating workplaces where everyone feels like they belong. She sums it up well when she says, “We’re dealing with human beings. It can’t just be about the numbers. It can’t just be about the data. We know who’s not in the room. It’s pretty obvious. So let’s go about changing our hearts and minds to receive and welcome them first.”
Listen to the full podcast with Rachel Williams here or below.
Listen to more Tech Inclusion podcasts here.
About Change Catalyst:
Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through education, community engagement and mentorship.
Our Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion.
Our Startup Ecosystem programs help underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors to start, scale and fund worldchanging businesses.
Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.