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.
Promoting workplace diversity is no simple task. Large, cutting edge companies like Google and Facebook have openly admitted to a lack of workforce diversity. Here are some helpful ways to rethink and reinvent the way your company can lead 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.
Since employees have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work, they are a great resource for your to find diverse candidates from. The relationship can also help new employees adjust to the move. 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!
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.
Besides engaging new hires, mentoring engages managers and chips away at their biases. According to the Harvard Business Review, “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 The 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.
picture source: www.hbr.org
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. 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!
Minimize Unconscious Bias
The traditional recruiting to resume to interview process is full of bias. 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.
Growing a diverse workforce doesn’t just happen - it is deliberate. 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.