Diversity in the workplace typically centers on traits like race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation, but other dimensions are equally important. Companies produce better results when they recruit, retain and develop employees with different communication styles, work styles, geographic origins, socioeconomic roles and organizational experience. Here are some of the best practices from small businesses and multinational corporations:
1. Set Diversity as a Core Value
The first step to establishing a diverse workforce is to commit to the effort. Add diversity language to all official policies. Hold conversations with employees about what diversity means and why it is important to the future of the organization.
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2. Identify Needs
You cannot make improvements if you do not understand the current state of the company. Use employee surveys, focus groups, incoming complaints and individual interviews to uncover where the workplace excels and where improvements are needed.
Educating Employees and Managers on Diversity in the Workplace
3. Create an Action Plan
Once you know which operational areas need fixed, you can develop a plan to do just that. Brainstorm measurable, actionable goals that feed into the company’s overall strategic plan and mission.
4. Involve Managers
Depending on the size of your company, you may not have time to speak to every employee every day. Consequently your management team will need to act as your delegates and carry forward your objectives on a day-to-day basis. Train your managers on ways to recruit and retain the best individuals for each position, regardless of their personal biases. Require a diverse set of candidates for each open position.
5. Involve Employees
When you are building diversity in the workplace, it’s not enough to announce a new initiative and wait for it to get done. This goal is different because it involves subjective topics for which people carry strong opinions and many misconceptions. Generate buy-in at all levels through awareness training, cross-cultural teams, open dialogue and ongoing feedback. Start employee resource groups so workers know they are not the only (gay, Native American, Republican, fill in the blank) person in the firm. The extra sense of camaraderie can launch new ideas and build stronger relationships among departments. In addition, encourage women and minorities to pursue leadership roles and client-facing positions.
6. Involve the Community
One of the best ways to develop a more diverse workforce is to invite diverse communities into your business. You do not literally need to offer tours through your facility, but you can send a company representative to community open houses, Black History luncheons, Hispanic student clubs, gay pride festivals and women in leadership symposiums. Meetup.com is a good website for starting or attending affinity club events.
When you embrace diversity, you reinforce the dignity, credibility and trust of each person and relationship. Maintaining diversity in the workplace demands continuous attention, from the owner to the front-line employees, but the benefits are worth the effort.
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Jeffrey S. Baril says
When one’s hiring practices becomes more about race & ethnicity than evaluating a candidate SOLELY based on education, technical expertise, and successes/achievements… there is a definite problem.
Don’t you think?
Diversity is overrated.
(Spoken from a man with a Haitian wife and has consistently outranked his peers in the hiring of Blacks, Asians, Indians, and Hispanics.)
I appreciate your viewpoint but I disagree on several points.
No, I don’t think that the diversity is overrated; not be a long shot. The article doesn’t once reference “hiring practices… that put race above education, technical expertise…” etc. I do strongly believe that the workforce should be very much a reflection of society, and it’s not quite frankly; specifically at the mid to upper levels of management as statistics show in the U.S. Diversity brings a lot more to workforce than skin color, gender, or a physical disability. It brings the best of the real world in terms of differences in thought, communication and action as I stated.
Kudos for “consistently outranking…peers in the hiring of Blacks, Asians, Indians and Hispanics”. I’m going to assume that a reasonable amount of these hires that you describe are in positions of higher level responsibility and authority and not in lower level or entry level roles as is so often the case with companies that tout diversity by race and ethnicity.
Jeffrey Baril says
As a hiring manager, if ” I strongly believe that the workforce should be very much a reflection of society ” is supposed to create an air of societal responsibility, it does not.
It is America’s responsibility to level the playing field in regards to racial and ethnic education and achievement, not mine.
For me, the only thing I see in Black and White is a resume. If the company I work work for does not look like its local demographic, then civic leaders should look at their community and isolate deficiencies and make changes.
Again, when hiring decision are based solely on not wanting to be out of EEOC compliance, that’s a sad scenario.
But, you are correct that many organizations skew their hiring demographic by targeting minorities for lower-level positions.
Jeffrey Baril of “Source Blogger”
I absolutely agree with your perspective that the workforce should be a reflection of society. But, if we don’t take individual responsibility to hire fairly, then it’s not going to happen. It’s the individual that creates change and in our case each individual is representative of America. I’ve never advocated hiring for compliance reasons.
It’s not civic leaders who can or should make changes in the communities at large when it comes to leveling the playing field. It’s individuals because it’s individuals who are making the decisions. It’s the individual landlord who makes a decision to rent – or not rent to applicants because they have per-conceived notions about them as an applicant. It’s the individual who makes a decision that they want to sell their house because someone of color moved in to the neighborhood. White flight is a well documented phenomenon all over this country. It’s these types of things that eventually create communities that are all Black, White, Asian etc which then effects the hiring demographics for companies in specific areas where there is no diversity.
It’s not the civic leaders responsibility to change people’s minds about the communities that they live in. It’s an individual responsibility. Some people want to take on that responsibility, some don’t and that’s fine. Just want to emphasize that we are America- each and every one of us. I don’t see America as these nameless, faceless “other” people.
Thanks for commenting.