Stop With The Diversity Lip Service: Five Steps To Build A More Just, Innovative Workplace
You’d have a tough time finding any company in America that doesn’t at least outwardly embrace diversity. Why else would every corporate giant choose to air TV ads that somehow touch on diversity during the Super Bowl or host diversity days? The truth is that diversity days or featuring diversity hires in one’s marketing collateral do little to advance the cause of true diversity and deprive businesses of the transformational changes a diverse workplace affords.
Diversity is key to innovation in the workplace, offering radically new perspectives to business problems and a breadth of life experience and wisdom that strengthens a company and our teams. Diversity makes business better.
Here are five steps to ensure diversity isn’t a nice extra but instead a pillar of your company that unites social justice along with the best of business strategy.
1. Start at the bottom.
While the most significant and visible hires get the most attention, focusing your attention on the C-suite misses the point: a diverse workplace from top to bottom. This practice is a classic example of trying to meet short-term objectives set by corporate boards. Companies should embed diversity across all levels and work to build careers of minority hires through opportunities and mentoring. MORE FOR YOUAI And HR Tech: Three Critical Questions Leaders Need To Support Diverse TeamsHow To Build A Digital Marketing Strategy For Businesses Targeting Growth In 2021How Diversity And Innovation Drive Great Cultures In The Future Of Work
2. Educate your staff.
Just like we need our teams to understand company vision to succeed, we require everyone’s understanding of how and why a diverse organization helps everyone. Educating the workforce should be part of creating an inclusive culture. Institute diversity and inclusion training across all levels of your company and ensure all team members understand why it helps your business in the long run, builds a more innovative company and financially benefits everyone.
3. Build a support structure.
The proper structure not only makes everyone feel welcome but collectively builds a culture where diversity is interwoven into the fabric of daily work. Build employee support teams that onboard new employees, gather feedback, meet regularly to understand culture challenges and provide senior leadership recommendations to formulate more inclusive company policies.
Additionally, build cross-culture and cross-skills teams to identify new business opportunities or to problem-solve new challenges. Use these teams for customer insights and employee development and as a catalyst to improve employee communication. Finally, integrate your diversity values and philosophy into your mentoring and leadership training.
4. Adapt diversity initiatives to each region.
“One size fits all” doesn’t work. Diversity initiatives should be tailored to local regions where a company operates and competes. A centralized approach is likely to either stall or fail. Strive to learn from microcultures rather than enforce a centralized global viewpoint when putting your global strategy in place.
To develop a sustainable program, create a shared understanding of what it means to be a globally diverse company, and give the responsibility to drive such programs to your local teams.
5. Take the long view and measure results.
Workplace diversity is a long-term ambition. Any steps you take should provide measurable results so you can continue to refine your efforts for greater diversity and inclusion (D&I). Make sure that the metrics you choose to measure help identify long-term trends.
For example, suppose you measure the number of women hired into management positions but fail to count how many women left the company across all roles. In that case, you won’t understand the nature of the actual diversity you are building. Measuring long-term trends can help you identify a minor blip and not discourage your ongoing D&I efforts.
Diversity will remain a cultural touchstone due in large part to the swell of changes that have occurred in our social fabric over the course of the past few years with the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements and other societal shifts. Many will claim they are answering the call to build a truly diverse workplace, but few will do the hard work necessary to ensure it happens.
Be different and bold as you make these changes. The path to both social justice and a transformed workplace doesn’t begin with nice gestures. It begins with solid foundational work and a plan to execute and grow from strength to strength.