Creating a network is easier for some people than for others. A PayScale study conducted in 2017 indicates that white women are 12% less likely to receive a referral than their white male counterparts, even when controlling for industry and other factors. But that’s nothing compared to minorities: Men of color are 26% less likely than white men to be referred, and women of color have even worse odds, according to the Harvard Business Review.
That’s why Meg Garlinghouse, head of Social Impact at LinkedIn, recommends the “+1” approach when it comes to mentorship, hiring, and leadership. Garlinghouse defines the “+1 pledge” as “the intentional act of using your networks to help those without it.”
“If each and every one of us applied ‘+1’ in our professional and personal lives, we could change the playing field and start to democratize access to opportunity for everyone—not just those who were born into or have access to it,” Garlinghouse writes in Quartz Ideas.
So what would that look like?
It’s simple, really. Mostly, it just requires employees and employers to reach out to people who are not within their network or from the same community. But that can be deceptively easy when the natural inclination is to hire and mentor people who remind you of yourself.
Garlinghouse tells an anecdote of how, after she announced her own plan to implement the “+1 pledge,” a woman came up to her asking for guidance. Though the woman had a different background than Garlinghouse’s, the LinkedIn executive took her under her wing. Garlinghouse connected her to someone at a foundation, where she was later hired.
It applies to hiring too
That single introduction can be a huge help in bolstering someone’s career. But so can changing the hiring process.
“If you’re a hiring manager, interview at least one person for a position who is not in your first- or second-degree community,” Garlinghouse writes. “Or if you’re a mentee yourself, champion a change of hiring practices at your company to allow more diverse workmates to join your ranks.”
Garlinghouse also writes about how leaders can come up with programs that promote an inclusive company culture and ensure their products don’t hurt people who don’t have a built-in network.
“What is arguably most compelling about this commitment is that sharing your network or changing hiring practices is not a zero-sum game: You’re still going to continue to help the people closest to you, but you can help others as well,” Garlinghouse writes.
And now for the big question: Will you make the “+1 pledge?” Garlinghouse makes it clear that it’s going to take all of us chipping in to change our workplace culture, and there’s no better time to start something new than right now.