Creating a diverse workforce is an essential part of competing in today's fast-moving and global world. However, far from simply being a buzzword to be used in corporate memos, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) provides a series of tangible and strategic benefits that allow a business to better adapt to changing circumstances, expand into new markets and cultivate new avenues of doing business.
A diverse workforce can be cultivated in many ways and can take many forms, but what they all have in common is that they contain a wide range of individuals who come from different backgrounds and provide additional insights into the human experience.
This article outlines actionable steps you can take to encourage a diverse workforce and reap the benefits of an inclusive environment for all.
Tips for Building a Diverse Workplace
Take the Time to Do it Right
Making profound shifts in the make-up of your workforce is not something you can force overnight. You need to spend the time to find the right talent for the proper aspects of your organization, and you need to put people in the places where they can do the most good for your company and their own futures. Conduct a diversity audit of your current practices, find metrics you need to improve and encourage your employees from minority backgrounds to leverage their social and professional networks to bring in more talent from diverse groups.
Often, making efforts to retain your employees from different backgrounds will be just as crucial to the long-term diversity of your business as your initial hirings. For example, the greater the representation of women in a business’ top management teams, the better the organization’s performance. Unfortunately, however, women have a turnover rate at the higher echelons of most companies. The coronavirus pandemic has only made this issue worse, with almost one in four women currently contemplating leaving their primary place of work. These issues are even more significant for women of color.
You need to cultivate a workplace that directly addresses the concerns of women and people of color, and that makes direct efforts to retain their talents. Foster a culture in which traditionally marginalized employees feel like they belong through more transparent communication and candid feedback.
Strengthen Relationships and Cultivate Inclusion
Better learning programs and an inclusive environment is integral to attracting and retaining employees from all walks of life. Team-building exercises, workshops, better education and policies that encourage diverse employees to express their opinions and unique wants and needs are all critical. Learn to both celebrate and support your team’s differences. How this looks and how you can best go about it will depend on both your industry and the people you have working for you.
Seek Out Diversity of Thought
Diversity of thought is just as crucial to creating a thriving business as is a diversity of race, gender, creed, and socioeconomic background. So often, a company will focus too heavily on one or two overt qualities and ends up with total uniformity in beliefs and viewpoints. A strategic effort towards diversity will ensure that you receive a range of answers when it comes time to offer views and opinions on a topic. This wide range of possible solutions will make you both more agile, as well as more well-rounded as a business.
How a Diverse Workforce Benefits You and Your Employees
Diverse companies have several key advantages over their more homogeneous counterparts, including:
Better Ideas and More Innovation
It makes sense that the more types of people, and worldviews, you put into a single meeting, the greater the range of solutions you will come out with. Different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs all are able to come together to find answers that may not have even been dreamt of in other situations. As a result, you will better understand your diverse customer base and be able to innovate and market for them more effectively.
Differentiation for Attracting Business
When it comes to hiring the top talent and attracting the best customers and suppliers, demonstrating your diversity can go a long way. Many people want to be a part of an organization they feel is doing good and respect them personally. The more obvious it is that you foster a respectful and inclusive atmosphere, the faster you will see your prospective talent pool rise.
Customers also want to buy from businesses that share their values. When your organization embodies much of what people believe in, it is much easier to attract loyal and consistent customers.
Some efforts to look into the topic have shown interesting results. The productivity of a diverse company is estimated at being 1.3 times higher than their less diverse counterparts. When diversity reaches upper management, the productivity jumps as high as two times more than those of less diverse businesses. While we are not entirely sure why this is, it is thought it likely has to do with some of the points we recently touched on. Aspects like better innovation, better incentives for people to do business with you, and a more open and inclusive working space all likely contribute to this boost in productivity and earnings.
This is Just the Beginning
Ultimately, there is both a moral and business incentive to enhance the diversity of your workplace. However, achieving greater diversity is a long road and requires actions at almost every stage of the hiring and management process to do correctly. As time goes on, a more inclusive workplace and diverse workforce will be able to help manage and perpetuate itself. Of course, the more you invest in this effort the more return you will see, but it must be genuine and done with total commitment to DEI for all.
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