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How to Manage and Promote Work Diversity

There’s been a lot of discussion about diversity in the workplace, and rightfully so. A recent report reveals that those who embrace diversity were 15 to 35 percent more likely to do better financially than other businesses in their industry. That statistic alone makes this topic something you should care about, but there’s much more to it than that.

Here’s how the trend toward being more inclusive affects your company, as well as how you can move toward creating and promoting a more diverse work environment. 

What is Diversity in the Workplace?

A diverse workplace is inclusive of all walks of life, including those of every age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, belief, political view, cultural background, physical/mental ability, or religion. By embracing workplace diversity, you choose to create a workplace that includes all groups, and you choose to treat them equally by showing everyone value, regardless of their differences.

The Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

Why would you choose to prioritize a diverse workplace? In some cases, it’s a legal obligation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on the characteristics outlined in federal rules. If you don’t make reasonable accommodations to include various groups, you could be breaking the law and face steep penalties.

Beyond the regulatory nature of diversity, there are other important benefits to embracing differences. In addition to opening up your workplace to a variety of talents and experiences, you could see the following perks:

  1. Financial gains. According to research, earnings rise .08 percent for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity shown in a company’s senior-executive team.
  2. Intuition. More diverse teams often show more critical thinking and business sense. One recent study linked more diversity to a better ability to price stocks.
  3. Innovation. Many studies have been done on how diversity impacts the creation of new ideas. Employing more women was credited for why one company’s research and development department was able to come up with some radical concepts.

Not all of the benefits of diversity have been studied, but we can surmise that a more diverse makeup may help outsiders feel more welcome as well. Seeing people of different ages, races, and backgrounds can give an interested job candidate reason to think that they could fit in, too.

Overly homogeneous workspaces may be welcoming in practice but could be mistaken for not wanting to embrace someone who doesn’t look or act like them. When it comes to hiring, perception is very important.

Ways to Build Diversity in the Workplace

Now that you’ve seen why diversity is important, how can you go about implementing it into your business and overall company culture? It takes time to introduce anything new, but these ideas are a good start.

1. Use Diversity-Friendly Job Boards

Some job boards and career websites specifically market to diverse groups. Depending on the group you want to reach, you can opt to spend more time targeting places such as:

2. Speak to Diverse Applicants on Your Job Page

Directly address that your company is open and inclusive. Use language that will encourage a broad range of applicants to apply, and consider using words that signal you are committed to diversity. This applies to your website as well as each job listing and job description.

You could also set up a micro-site or hiring page specifically for groups you hope to reach. Walmart’s Careers with a Mission site, for example, speaks directly to veterans and their family members. They use the site to guide job seekers through the hiring process, and to repeat their commitment to hiring a certain number of military members each year.

3. Train Your Recruiting Team

Make sure your entire hiring team and anyone else working directly with job candidates are aware of any unconscious bias. Also, look for ways to take bias out of the hiring process. This is a good opportunity for your applicant tracking system to provide data into hiring, as well.

Interview all of your applicants the same way, regardless of demographic. Look to panel interviews to get a better, more diverse perspective from your hiring teams.

4. Reward Diversity

Consider creating a scholarship program for underrepresented groups. Encourage growth by opening up internship programs to those who may not traditionally be invited.

Ways to Manage Diversity in the Workplace

Bringing in diverse workers is just the start of creating a friendly workspace for all groups. You must continually work to make sure your company culture embraces diversity, too. To keep your business inclusive at every step of a career, consider these actions:

1. Include Diversity Training

It doesn’t have to be at the center of everything you teach, but a purposeful diversity class or workshop, along with regularly updated sessions, is advised. If you don’t have experience teaching diversity topics, consider hiring an outside consulting firm or a professional who specializes in it.

2. Make Friendly Policies

Look at your documentation, workplace policies, and employee handbook to see how you address diversity and diverse groups. This applies to something as subtle as the language in your corporate materials, up to how you deal with disciplinary actions. Inclusive practices can also include scheduling, benefits, work parties, dress code, and the food you serve at functions. 

3. Put Diversity in Your Collaborative Efforts

If you find an opportunity to create diverse teams, do it. Departments are one categorization of workers that can benefit from having a diverse makeup of people. Special projects are another way to bring in many different viewpoints in a way that benefits everyone.

Remember that problem-solving and innovation are wonderful side-effects of diverse groups. If you find a way to bring in more diverse voices, research shows you may see big gains.

4. Pair Mentors Well

It may not always be obvious how to best match mentors with their protégés. Don’t hesitate to bring together mentoring pairs that don’t look like they have that much in common – at first. These one-on-one partnerships can be brilliant opportunities for both people to learn from one another and can model how diversity in the workplace should look.

Ways to Promote Diversity in the Workplace

Businesses must be careful to ensure that their efforts to be inclusive are seen as genuine. Don’t be afraid to ask groups how they want to be included and what advice they have for making the workplace friendly for everyone. Beyond that, consider these tips.

1. Blogs and Social Media

While you will use your dedicated marketing teams for most communications, blogs and social media are ideal for what we call user-generated content (UGC). This type of content is made by real people who work for you or use your product or service.

Let employees tell their stories, share their tips, and explain why they do what they do. By inviting a variety of voices to participate in these UGC project, you can create an environment where more people feel heard.

2. Work Events

A Christmas party may be a thing of the past, considering that diversity means more holidays than ever before. Embrace this change by creating ways for your workplace to learn about other cultures and backgrounds through new work events. These can be charity events that shed light on an underrepresented group, or you could plan an off-site team-building activity.

Whatever new idea you try, be sure that your attempt to be inclusive doesn’t accidentally exclude others. Provide many options for participants or alternative ways to engage that doesn’t alienate anyone on your team.

With hiring especially, there’s an opportunity to get it right from day one. Comeet’s ATS can help ensure that you don’t make critical recruiting errors or display bias when interacting with candidates in any phase of the hiring cycle.

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Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith is a content strategy consultant working with high-growth businesses on their brand messaging, content strategy, and content creation. A digital nomad, she's exploring the world's cultures and cuisines as she works.

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