4 Ways to Prioritize Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace
Key Points about diversity and inclusion:
- Diverse workplaces increase revenue, productivity, and creativity. Despite these benefits, diversity hasn’t been a priority for many businesses – until now.
- Recent events have prompted many businesses to reconsider. If your business is among them, there are many ways you can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
- To start, leverage diversity data, new recruiting networks, and feedback from underrepresented employees.
Racial justice is at the center of American conversation right now, and many employers have used social media to support Black lives, diversity, and inclusion. While these posts are important, they can lose some of their impact if the employers don’t follow up with concrete action.
Many employers have recognized this and are developing or revamping their diversity and inclusion programs. If your business is taking similar steps, the following tips can help you get started.
Note: This blog focuses on racial diversity, but diversity takes many forms. You can adjust most of our tips to address diversity in its other forms, including:
- Gender and gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Disability status
- Economic class
- And more
Diversity: Why It’s Important at Work
A diverse company is a more valuable company. When there’s a mix of different perspectives, better decision-making and new insights arise. In fact, studies show that diversity at any organizational level boosts revenue, increases productivity, and improves innovation. Diverse companies are also more attractive to job seekers.
However, diversity by itself is not enough. Do all of your employees feel comfortable at work? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel seen, heard, and valued beyond their status as a minority?
Despite your best efforts, countless barriers can prevent you from being fully inclusive. Hidden biases, outdated technology, and assumptions can drive your actions without your knowledge. These actions can have very real impacts on your underrepresented employees. This includes where they work, how comfortable they feel there, what they do, and how much money they make.
Here are a few things you can do to push against these barriers and make diversity and inclusion a priority in your workplace.
1. Use your data
Start by tracking your company’s diversity data (if you aren’t doing so already). Without this data, it can be easy to justify instinctual decisions that may be based in hidden biases. Data and analytics can help you spot racial differences in wages, seniority level, and more.
Looking at the following data (by race) can help you identify areas for improvement:
- Percent of diverse candidates at each stage in the recruiting process
- Wage rates
- Seniority levels
- Turnover and retention rates
- Employee satisfaction
- Performance ratings
- Awards and recognition
2. Develop your diversity and inclusion plan
Next, use your data to develop a diversity and inclusion plan. Develop this plan the same way you would any other (like an infectious disease plan). Identify your purpose and goals, along with what actions you’ll take to achieve them in your workplace.
In general, a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan will include:
- How your organization’s brand, culture, and values relate to your diversity and inclusion efforts
- Anti-discrimination policies, including behavioral standards and protocols that hold everyone accountable
- Clear goals with metrics that track your organization’s progress
- Training programs that address anti-racism, hidden biases, and inclusion
- A diversity and inclusion leader or officer responsible for the program
- Methods to hold company leaders accountable (such as tying bonuses to the company’s diversity and inclusion goals)
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for minority or underrepresented groups
- Community outreach and charity programs
Consulting firms that specialize in diversity and inclusion can help you develop your strategy. This list of consultants can get you started, but there are many other providers out there.
3. Expand your recruiting network
You might recruit talent from the same job boards or career fairs year after year. If these platforms work for your organization, there’s little motivation to switch it up. However, using the same networks makes it easy to recruit people who share similar backgrounds and experiences.
To build a diverse employee base, expand your network and try to seek out candidates from other places. Recruit from universities with diverse student bodies, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Or try partnering with organizations that connect underrepresented professionals with internships and jobs. A list of diverse professional associations and organizations can be found here.
Using an all-in-one HR software like SentricHR can help you easily integrate with job boards and reach a wide range of different candidates. Candidates can fill out their own profiles and existing data auto-populates to streamline your process and cut back on repetitive data entry.
4. Listen to your underrepresented employees
Diversity and inclusion means creating a workplace where everyone feels safe to be their authentic selves. To create this environment, listen to your underrepresented employees and their needs. This will help you build a welcoming and supportive workplace. To get started, you can:
- Send out surveys. Gauge employee response to your diversity and inclusion program (what’s working well, what isn’t, etc.).
- Introduce a mentorship program to create a support system for new employees.
- Share educational resources with all employees. Diverse entertainment (like books and movies) can motivate employees to learn outside of the office.
Talking about race, especially in the workplace, can be uncomfortable. And that’s okay! But if feeling uncomfortable prevents discussions about race, the changes needed for racial justice, diversity, and inclusion will never happen.
Developing or revamping your diversity and inclusion plan is a step in the right direction. However, it is just one step. Establishing a truly inclusive workplace will take lifelong work and continuous learning. If you keep making the necessary changes, though, those steps can add up to a more inclusive place for everyone, in and out of the office.