Workplace diversity is complicated, but it boils down to understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those: of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations. Diversity also includes those with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.
Diversity is not just made up of one attribute. Many aspects will contribute to your company’s success. Promoting workplace diversity is no simple task. Large, cutting-edge companies like Google and Facebook have openly admitted to a lack of workforce diversity.
Deciding how to improve diversity and inclusion practices in your company will not only have an impact on your current employees, it will affect the future of your company prospects as a whole. Understand that you must create compelling jobs in order for diverse candidates to be interested in you. What sets your company apart and why are you the best at fulfilling my needs professionally and personally? Think outside the box and understand that you have to pursue diversity.
Here are some helpful ways to rethink and reinvent the way your company can implement diversity and inclusion as a growth strategy:
Management Needs to Address Diversity
Diversity and inclusion management shouldn’t begin and end with hiring. No matter how diverse your workforce is, it is difficult to retain and therefore benefit from the diversity especially if the individual and collective differences are not addressed. Think about it, how likely is an employee to consider a long career at a company if she doesn’t see anyone like herself in management positions?
For reasons like this, diversity and inclusion are topics that need to extend beyond HR to the entire organization and be considered in every phase of talent management—from hiring, and onboarding to professional development, leadership training, performance management, feedback/measurement, workforce planning, and more.
It is not only important to recruit diverse candidates; you must also know how to retain them. What types of incentives and programs do you have for underrepresented groups to be acclimated to your company’s culture?
If you are serious about retaining diverse team members, you should consider hiring a Director Of Diversity. This should be someone that fits the criteria of being diverse and be in charge of helping the transition of new hires into your workforce, understanding the struggles that underrepresented groups face, and ensuring discriminatory policies are being taken care of.
By having diverse leadership, turnover rates will be lower among employees and they can feel like they have something to work towards. Remember; think of diversity as a functioning part of your business. Consider all different groups of people from every diverse background.
Employee Referrals and Social Networks
Since employees have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work, they are a great resource for you to find diverse candidates from. The relationship can also help new employees adjust to the move by bringing along a friend that they know who is qualified for a position in your company.
Challenge your employees to think beyond the obvious hire. Consider skipping past their two best friends and make a point to emphasize that diversity requires deliberate effort, and it’s something all employees can help with – by making introductions to great people they know, even if they aren’t a perfect match to your usual profile. It only makes the team stronger in the long run!
Use Social Media to your advantage when trying to find candidates. Join special groups on LinkedIn and get connected on issues that plague diverse candidates. Ask candidates on those sites how they would like to be approached and do further research. Using your established network can make a world of a difference.
Minimize Unconscious Bias
The traditional recruiting to resume to interview process is full of bias. These biases can pollute the hiring process and make it so that companies do not hire the best-suited candidate for the job. Though much of the bias is subconscious, the facts are hard to ignore.
In the resume review process, many studies have shown that people with ethnic names need to send out more resumes before they get a callback, and that resumes with female names are rated lower than ones with male names when all other things on a resume are equal.
Your company needs to take a look at your current diversity policies and make sure they are up-to-date. Pass out evaluations to employees and let them understand the commitment your company is trying to make. Evaluations should be held twice a year to ensure that change is actually happening and that you have realistic goals set in place for your employees.
In order to continue to improve your diversity and inclusion when hiring, you must continue to recruit candidates from diverse talent pools. Understanding the importance of diverse models and practices are essential functions of a better company.
Make sure that recruits know that your company is progressive and ready to make a change in the future to make the company better. Understand that all your employees matter and make sure that you are able to create that same sense of community while recruiting new team members.
Build a Mentor Network
Create resource groups and mentor networks to increase lasting relationships. It's not just about diversity, it’s about inclusion. Mentoring programs help connect underrepresented employees, provide support, promote growth, and encourage participation by building close working relationships.
Finding mentors that share personal interests can foster new friendships and ultimately increase retention. By devoting an equal amount of time and effort in retaining new employees and familiarizing them with the new job and company culture, the first few weeks of work which are usually the toughest will be a lot more manageable.
“In teaching their protégés the ropes and sponsoring them for key training and assignments, mentors help give their charges the breaks they need to develop and advance. The mentors then come to believe that their protégés merit these opportunities—whether they’re white men, women, or minorities. That is cognitive dissonance—Anyone I sponsor must be deserving—at work again.”
As Georgetown’s business school Dean David Thomas discovered in his research on mentoring,
“Mentoring programs make companies’ managerial echelons significantly more diverse: On average they boost the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men, by 9% to 24%. In industries where plenty of college-educated non-managers are eligible to move up, like chemicals and electronics, mentoring programs also increase the ranks of white women and black men by 10% or more.”
In Harvard Business Review’s graphic (below) it is seen that companies do a better job of increasing diversity with programs like mentorships because they spark engagement and increase contact among different groups.
Your company's mentoring network could be a resource group specifically aimed at a marginalized group or even just pairing together two similar people with different time periods at the company. The groups that are put together should bond together professionally and personally. They can be responsible for community service projects, leadership seminars, and have a direct report to the diversity commissioner to ensure that their group’s needs are being accommodated.
Communication is crucial for all interactions whether it be at work or at home. Companies need to make sure they offer a variety of communication mediums as options to encourage collaboration among employees. Everyone has a preferred method in which they're most comfortable interacting with others and expressing their ideas (some of ours include Slack, Google Hangouts, and Asana. To gain a greater diversity of ideas from employees, utilize multiple tools so all employees feel comfortable contributing.
Here at ProSky, one of the most successful tools has been our one-stop platform that allows employees and management to share ideas, collaborate and connect to our community. This platform allows employees to personalize their profiles with their background, previous work experiences, and skills. When new employees join our team, they are immediately included!
Brand diverse presentations and seminars to your company and present them as learning tools and building blocks of your business. Communicating to employees the company’s commitment to diversity will ensure that you have the right culture fit around the office. You do not just want to have a tolerant culture; your culture needs to be progressive in bringing different ideas and different people into the mix.
Having open forums about diversity and actually talking about it will make your company have a community of respect. Everyone will know their role and how they personally can do better and make sure your company is going in the right direction.
Growing a diverse workforce doesn’t just happen - it is deliberate. Be patient. Many practices you already have can be adapted and it's never too late to start changes. If your pool of qualified applicants doesn't reflect the diverse demographics of the clients you are serving, you may need to expand your search and go beyond traditional hiring sources.
The days of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to workplace diversity and inclusion are over. By adopting these best practices, your organization will be well on its way to building a workplace that draws on the strengths of all of its diverse employees.
If you're looking for some help or want to ask questions about improving diversity in your organization let's chat! Schedule a demo with one of our specialists to learn more: