HOW TO IMPROVE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN THE WORKPLACE
Creating a diverse workforce has been a priority for many companies for years. But hiring and assembling a broad mix of workers who represent different genders, ages, races, cultural backgrounds, lifestyles and physical ability levels is only the first part of this equation. Improving and promoting diversity in the workplace is an effort that requires continual attention.
It is important to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace for many reasons. It allows everyone to feel respected, and have their opinions and perspectives heard and valued. This is true for everyone from managers down to the newly-hired interns. A diverse and inclusive workforce also promotes workplace wellness and builds morale.
Among the benefits of workplace diversity are the cross-section of different perspectives it brings to problem-solving and company projects. Fostering this has been shown to improve employee performance, resulting in higher productivity and more creativity among teams of people who work together.
Improving diversity and inclusion in any workplace takes effort. Here are some easy ways to make sure your company is hitting the mark.
Establish a Sense of Belonging for Everyone at Work
Creating an inclusive culture in the workplace takes time and deliberate cultivation. Putting a diverse group of people together is not where the formula ends. Managers need to work toward promoting an inclusive culture so everyone feels a sense of belonging. Sometimes this means looking at the teams your company has assembled to work on specific projects. For instance, if one group is comprised largely of young white women, managers may want to change the makeup to achieve gender and age balance, as well as racial diversity. This will add different perspectives, skill sets and life experiences and allow them to approach solutions more inclusively.
Mentors are another way to foster inclusivity and diversity at work. And this can happen beyond the boundaries of your own company. Connecting underrepresented employees with internal and external mentors provides them with a feeling of support. It gives them someone to bounce ideas off of, seek career advice from, and model successful professional behavior. It promotes their own growth within the company and sends the important message that the company cares about their career.
Work events are another great way to foster a sense of togetherness and team-building. Whether it is something as easy as a Friday potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish to share, or a daytime trip to a local ballpark for everyone in the office, the employee bonding that happens during these events can be a great team-building experience that helps to bridge gaps between employees who may not have worked together before.
Be Fair Toward All Employees
When you are working toward creating and retaining a diverse workforce, fairness is crucial in order for employees to feel they are accepted and valued. There should never be a sense among your workforce that people of different genders or cultures are being treated differently. For example, celebrating the holidays and traditions of one culture, but not others. The same goes for paychecks. You want to make sure there are not different salaries and benefit packages being offered to employees from different backgrounds who are hired to do the same jobs. This is where fair and equitable human resources policies will help all employees feel there is a sense of inclusion.
Be Supportive of Innovation & Creativity
Innovation and creativity are two key ingredients in any workplace. There is always room for new ideas. They often can drive efficiency, increase productivity and employee morale, and can even help grow your business at a faster rate. Your company should always strive to support creativity. If it’s not part of your overall business goals, it might be tough to maintain workplace diversity. People don’t want to work in a place where they feel their innovations and unique contributions are not being recognized or valued.
Always Strive to Continually Educate Employees on Diversity & Inclusion Some companies make great strides by building a diverse workforce, but then do not take the time to foster the sense of inclusion it takes to keep this group of people working together. It’s important to educate employees about how everyone benefits from a diverse workplace, and why activities and policies that foster inclusion are so important. Did your company have a great bottom line last year? Good managers will make sure to announce that it is because everyone worked together to achieve a tough goal. Or maybe your company expanded, or brought on new high-level clients in the last six months. The message should be that people with different perspectives worked together to make it happen. This message needs to be sent not only to upper management, but circulated throughout the workforce.
Make Sure your Team Understands What it Means to Recruit a Diverse Workforce
When assembling and maintaining a diverse group of employees, it is important that a company’s managers keep the field wide open in terms of interviewing and recruiting potential hires. Managers should not limit their attention to just ethnicity or gender. Remember that keeping an inclusive workforce means looking at education levels, breadth of experience and disabilities.
Creating workplace diversity doesn’t end when people are hired. It takes careful attention to foster a growing sense of inclusion among all employees, from the bottom rungs to the very top of the company ladder. When this is a priority, everyone benefits.
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