There’s a long list of advantages to fostering diversity in the workplace. It generates innovation and creative problem-solving and improves employee productivity and retention. Diversity also helps companies appeal to a more diverse audience, often resulting in more profitable bottom lines.
For all its advantages, many companies haven’t made a real commitment to diversity, and that’s what it takes. Policies often only pay lip service to reality in hiring. The fact is that it requires a concerted effort to diversify a workforce.
If you want to reap the benefits of diversity for your business, you should be willing to do the hard work. The investment will pay off. Here’s how to create the diversity your business needs for innovation and success.
Business goals and objectives tend to focus on issues such as market share and profit margins. To achieve greater diversity in your workforce, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) must be major priorities. Not reaching your DEIA goals should be as concerning as missing your company’s quarterly sales goals.
As with any other business goal, you’re going to need to focus considerable effort on reaching it. These achievements don’t happen by accident. Moreover, some businesses need to be even more diligent because their workforce doesn’t lend itself naturally to diversity.
Take the tech sector, for example. Talent is markedly heterosexual, white or Asian, and male. It’s challenging to find diversity in gender, race, religion, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and education in the prospect pool. Industries dominated by certain individuals may need outside help.
Partnering with a company that specializes in technology recruiting removes a lot of barriers to success. These companies focus on identifying diverse talent and creating a pool of prospects. That leaves you with the task of interviewing great applicants and deciding which ones to hire.
Just because your industry may not lend itself to diversity doesn’t mean it’s not a goal worth moving toward. If your workforce is homogenous, the work it turns out will be as well. Make sure diversity is always a priority.
It’s human nature to be biased on all sorts of levels, including during the hiring process. The fact is that people tend to hire people like them. Therefore, your workforce looks like those doing the hiring.
A task-oriented white, heterosexual, uncommunicative, Ivy League-educated male is more likely to hire someone who looks like him. That means he’ll skip over the Black, public university-educated, gregarious, lesbian female even if she graduated summa cum laude. And he’ll do so even though he’s hiring a client service representative far better suited for her than someone like himself.
You can’t remove humans from the hiring process, but you may be able to balance the bias with technology. Start with a DE&I tech stack that helps eliminate bias and increase fairness. The right stack can help you with everything from inclusive recruitment language to legal compliance.
You can also improve your recruiting and hiring mix to help attract diverse talent. Make sure some of your recruiters and managers look like the people you want to hire. The propensity for bias works on both sides of the interview table.
Break down a job description by the experience, skills, knowledge, competencies, and personality ideally suited for the job. Narrow your choices to prospects who fit those attributes regardless of any preconceived notions. If you start putting the right people in the right jobs, it’s likely they won’t all look the same.
If you take all the right steps to hire a diverse workforce, don’t forget you need to keep them. It’s tough enough these days to hang on to any employee. But retaining those who don’t look like the majority of your workers is even harder.
You recognize the differences in people when you’re creating diversity in your business. Once hired, you need to celebrate and support those differences. Otherwise, your top talent will soon head for the door.
For example, company policies should accommodate religious differences. If there’s paid time off for Christian holidays, there should be for those celebrated by other religions as well. Moreover, educate your entire workforce about diverse celebrations to build a sense of community rather than division.
Accommodate employees who want to be involved in their unique communities. The major events meaningful to LGBTQ+ employees and to Hispanic employees are no less important than Labor Day. Time allowed to participate in them is a sign of respect for who they are and what they’re passionate about.
Everyone in the company from the top down may need help understanding issues they have no direct experience with. So, create a safe space where questions can be asked and answered without judgment. Encouraging employees to engage with their jobs as well as their lives may keep them content and on board.
It gets remarkably comfortable hiring the same type of people. But sticking with the status quo means missing opportunities for innovation. Product development, problem-solving, messaging, and service lines remain stagnant.
You never know what talent is out there until you do a thorough search, tilting toward diverse hires. It may be more difficult to find these employees and even more challenging to keep them. But the possibilities may be endless if you do the hard work.