The U.S. is going through some challenging times right now, but a growing awareness of the value of diversity in business may prove to be of long-lasting value for us all. Though the future is certainly unpredictable, workplace diversity “inches closer to becoming a business necessity instead of a banner that companies wave to show their commitment” to change, as noted by the Houston Chronicle.
There are numerous benefits to be gained from improved workplace diversity:
- Lessened workplace conflict when employees gain an understanding of different perspectives, backgrounds, lifestyles, etc.
- A deeper understanding within the organisation of the diverse target audiences the company is aiming to reach.
- A valuable branding opportunity when a business becomes known for its inclusive approach to hiring and corporate culture.
The push for more diversity in business has been going on for some time. It’s clear now the momentum isn’t going away. What can you do to boost diversity and a broadened perspective in your workplace? Here are tips to consider:
Understand the “business case” for diversity.
As the Harvard Business Review notes, the country’s demographics are changing. Their research indicates “that when workplace teams reflect their target customers, the entire team is more than twice as likely to innovate effectively for their end-users.” Successful innovation and new product updates that result in enhanced revenue are compelling cases to make for more diverse leadership and workforce.
Follow EEOC equal opportunity guidelines.
A comprehensive framework for a more diverse workplace is clearly spelled out by Federal EEOC (Equal Employee Opportunity Commission) guidelines. These recommendations can help you establish genuinely diverse hiring practices, which will in turn have a positive effect on the workplace culture.
Offer diversity training.
As part of the effort to improve workplace diversity, training your current staff can also result in a more cohesive and collaborative organisation. Look specifically at training that outlines how you’re committed to a broader approach to hiring.
As the Wall Street Journal advises, “Making the recruiting process more transparent can help ease the minds of sceptical employees.” In addition, make sure your managers fully “get” the value of this effort, since “they will be implementing personnel policies” designed to support this objective.
Take a different approach to project team selection.
Businesses often choose a small group of employees to engage in organisational initiatives. To support greater diversity, look for ways to group together employees in a range of races, ages, and gender. This strategy encourages a broader outlook on how to move forward, while also ensuring that no one single outlook dominates the effort (and outcome).
Support cultural and religious celebrations.
A more diverse workplace generally means expanding the range of approved holidays and time-off policies. (This might prove tricky at times, but either appointing an in-house diversity expert or hiring a knowledgeable outside expert can hopefully simplify matters.) The point is to demonstrate respect for different cultures and establish a more inclusive workplace.
Start at the top.
As we have noted previously, business owners “set the tone of the culture and define it, whether consciously or unconsciously.” In support of the goal of greater workplace diversity, you can set the tone by publicly advocating greater diversity among employees and leadership. Promote the idea through messages to the staff, amending (if necessary) the company’s mission, and spreading the word through social media that workplace diversity is a top priority for your company.