It is easy for companies to say they offer job diversity, but only the ones that embed inclusion and diversity in their everyday practices are truly diverse organizations. Diversity encompasses the ability to create a workforce that brings an interesting point-of-view to the table.
One area to practice diversity and inclusion is during the hiring process. Industry experts say the same opportunities should be made accessible to everyone regardless of their background. Doing so will naturally make your organization diverse.
Here is a look at what industry experts are saying about diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
Eliminate All Barriers Early On
The best thing to do is to start right at the beginning by making your advert as diversity-friendly as possible. An explicit diversity statement can do this and so can avoiding gendered terms in your advert. Tech like Textio can help you with this.
Be aware of the barriers that other people have. Someone from a lower socio-economic background probably couldn’t afford to do the same unpaid internship that a much wealthier person could do. So if you expect that kind of thing, [ask yourself] is it fair and will it cut off potentially great candidates? Essentially, it probably will affect diversity in applications.
The benefits of diversity are more socially reaching, so you shouldn’t really expect your profits to soar because of diversity. You are widening your talent pool and selling yourself as diversity-friendly if you use diversity statements. This means you’re getting the best people for the role no matter who they are. You’re bringing new ideas and demographics into the workforce. And there’s a chance your product or service will be picked up by bigger markets if you market your diversity on social media.
Be Creative When Searching For Candidates
Having a diverse workforce can be a struggle when small businesses tend to recruit largely for cultural fit. This can lead to the “similar to me” bias on all levels. One method I urge my clients to use, and have also used in-house, is to utilize a structured interview. Ask every candidate the same set of questions and resist the urge to go down the chit-chat path. You don’t need to be a robot. However, this also helps to give every candidate a chance to be compared apples-to-apples on their merits for the job.
Another method is to cast a wide net for where you look for employees, and don’t just try the same old job boards. Post to community college boards, social media, and encourage your employees to post roles on their social media to get as many interested people as possible.
Hire A Multi-Generational Workforce
Some methods my clients are using to improve diversity and inclusion include creating a generalized and aspirational statement regarding the company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and setting long-range percentage goals; not quotas.
Employees can support an employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts by realizing the employer may be violating the law if it has a plan that uses quotas, rather than goals. This means employees should recognize the employer’s plan must be flexible, rather than rigid in order to remain legal.
There might be incentives if the employer has a rigid quota plan and it is illegal. This could very well destroy the rights of other employees who do not fall within the desired quota.
An example of how diversity and inclusion has created a more productive workplace can be seen when an employer hires a multi-generational workforce including a mix of millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. Doing so provides the opportunity to bring various perspectives to the table, and will result in various approaches to an issue.
Mixing older and younger workers allows for cross generational mentoring, which prevents a brain drain when older employees retire or Millennials move on in a couple years. It is not just a one-way street where the older worker shares his/her experience. Millennials assist older employees (including business owners) with how to better understand younger customers and meet their needs, i.e. a customer might prefer texting rather than calling or emailing.
Focus On Collaboration, Not Collaborators
Improve diversity and inclusion by COMPLETE EXCLUSION of diversity and inclusion in the workplace! As soon as I draw attention to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I am defeating the purpose. Isn’t the workplace the opportunity to apply skills to obtain outcomes? Isn’t the purpose of diversity, to include varied skills that might otherwise not have been included in the workplace?
Instead of drawing attention to who might be providing those skills, why not put that effort into thoroughly identifying the skills I need in the workplace; then hiring people with those skills regardless of who they might be. Is this not common sense?
Employees can support diversity and inclusion in the workplace by following Morgan Freeman’s advice on ending racism: stop talking about it! In the workplace, the focus should be on the skills and outcomes to be accomplished, and not on who is accomplishing them. Employees can support everyone in the workplace who contributes the skills and produces the outcomes.
There should be incentives for valuing people because of their contribution and output regardless of who those people are: increased productivity, fewer conflicts, and improved relationships in the workplace.
In my small company, we don’t hire women, men, LGBTs, heterosexuals, Caucasians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Millennials, Baby Boomers, or GenXers. We only hire people with the skills to do their jobs. We don’t have statistics on how many of any label we have in the company. None of the successes or problems in the workplace have been attributed to anything other than application of skills and performance outcomes. Our high morale and decent profits are results of our focus on skills, excluding diversity, and the inclusion of efforts that call attention to the contributor instead of the contribution.
Don’t Control Personal Opinions
Diversity happens naturally when we learn to hire based on merit and park personal biases and prejudices at the door.
Before employees support diversity and inclusion, they should first identify where the company stands. If the faces in the office do not reflect diversity, than employees know the company is just paying lip service.
While I understand this may not be possible or wise in many businesses, politics, race, and religion are not taboo topics at my firm. Our workers and clients are all very open about where they stand, even when we disagree. So far, this has not caused us any issues in 11 years of business.
On February 16th, we also supported A Day without Immigrants as a team. I shut down business from midnight to midnight. Our clients were very supportive of this decision.
Diversity helps to make us “relatable” to clients of all backgrounds. It also expands our opportunities. We can easily take on more international clients due to the multiple linguistic and cultural connections.
We are very proud of our diversity at the firm and it also helps to boost morale. The fact that we have a cat as our Goodwill Ambassador has also been a major game changer for us this year. Shadow the PR Cat brings in a new client on his own every month, and revenues have tripled since we hired him. He is likely the best hiring decision I ever made.
Where does your company stand on diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how do you take on the challenge?