Diversity in the Workplace
It’s important to ensure equality of opportunity for everyone in your organization, no matter their gender, religion, race, orientation, or other background. Sure, it is the right thing to do. However, there’s a business side to this as well. Simply put, diversity makes companies stronger. It drives innovation. By having people with a range of economic and social backgrounds, your company will be exposed to new and interesting ideas and viewpoints which can help you attract and retain new customers.
Consider this: does it make sense for a brand which ostensibly targets female customers to have a leadership team or board comprised mainly of men? Of course not! You want to be sure that your customer base is represented by your workforce and leadership team.
So What Do You Do?
Like most things, increasing diversity is easier said than done. So how do you bring about change so your organization starts to look more diverse? There are several steps you can take.
- Create Policies
Now is the time to take a look at your workforce and hiring practices and examine whether you may need to make some changes.
Sit down with your HR team and craft a policy or a value statement that explicitly describes that the company respects diversity. Then create a plan for how you’ll increase diversity in the workforce over the next five years. Just like any other strategic goals, make your diversity goals specific, measurable, and actionable.
- Model Behavior
Policies are good, but they are just words on paper unless you take action to bring them to life. That’s why you need to show the rest of the company that the leadership team takes these policies to heart. There are a few ways to do this, but a great option is to form a mentoring program. I write a lot about mentoring on my blog because I know how valuable it is, especially to people who are just coming up in the workforce. So find someone who is different from you and mentor them. Support them.
- Actively Recruit from Diverse Communities
Many companies will say, “Well, I would really like diversity, but we just don’t have any diverse candidates applying here!” They use that as an excuse to not implement any change. If you are having trouble getting potential job candidates who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, then you should consider broadening your search. Perhaps you should post the job in a wider variety of places or reach out to potential candidates directly, asking them to apply.
- Consider Taking on Outside Help from Experts
Bring in consultants who specialize in this issue and can guide your company in diversity and inclusion training. It’s always smarter to be pre-emptive about holding trainings than to wait until a specific incident forces your company to hold them.
Remember, it’s not enough to make surface level changes. In order to see positive results, you need to step up and be willing to make serious cultural changes if required. To learn more about the best practices for implementing cultural change in the office, visit my website.