Workplace diversity has become one of the defining features of a successful modern company within the past few years. That trend is only growing as we enter a new decade characterized by rapid change and intensifying calls for social justice.
The reasons for this increased focus on inclusivity and equality are not strictly social or political, either. There is a wealth of information to suggest that a diverse workplace is beneficial to a company’s financial performance, so there’s even something in it for leaders who are skeptical.
A well-rounded workplace that represents all of the different races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, physical abilities, ages, and backgrounds the world has to offer is also bound to allow for a wide variety of ideas and perspectives and to be open to the sort of progressive thinking that propels a company forward.
Knowing this, it should be a no-brainer for every business to do whatever it takes to ensure workforce diversity; however, that is not always the case in reality. While it is unfortunate, don’t be quick to blame a company’s lack of diversity and inclusion on ignorance…ensuring that your workplace is as diverse as possible can be tricky.
This guide will fill you in on everything you need to know about workforce diversity, why it’s so important, and how your company can achieve it.
What Exactly is Workforce Diversity?
Simply put, workforce diversity is the practice of employing a wide variety of people. This means hiring workers of all different ages, religions, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and more, in order to create a workplace that is both inclusive and equitable.
But diversity and inclusion don’t stop at the hiring process. The most successfully diverse workplaces also have an established culture that promotes equality and open-mindedness, creating an environment in which different ideas are shared and differing perspectives are accepted.
What Are the Benefits of a Diverse Workplace?
Creating a diverse workplace allows all people to have an equal opportunity for gainful employment, fights against both conscious and unconscious discrimination, and is honestly just a nice thing to do. But there are also a number of other benefits that go beyond the fight for fairness, equality, and overall kindness.
Here are some of the best “perks” to a diverse workplace.
It Enhances Problem Solving
Imagine you’re driving in a car with four people and you blow out a tire, but not one of you knows how to change it. Not only should all five of you be embarrassed, but you might as well be on your own trying to get the problem solved; the other four are essentially dead weight.
Now imagine that one of the passengers grew up working on cars because their father was a mechanic. Instead of waiting for AAA on the side of the highway for two hours or attempting to watch a YouTube how-to video with no cell service, your buddy makes quick work of that flat and you’re back on the road in a matter of minutes and off to your destination.
With your company, you’re allowed to choose who rides in that car with you, so why not create a team of passengers who each bring something uniquely useful to the table?
When you create a workplace centered around diversity and inclusion, you invite a wide array of people who are able to share their knowledge, perspectives, and skill sets whenever a problem should arise.
It Can Help You to Make More Money
Money is pretty much the only reason why anyone starts a company in the first place, isn’t it? Profit is the number one goal of any business, so don’t be ashamed to admit that it’s yours. Fortunately, workforce diversity will not stand in the way of that goal. In fact, studies show it may actually help your earnings.
According to McKinsey & Company, a study of 180 companies across the UK, Germany, France, and the United States between 2008 and 2010 showed a correlation between diverse executive boards and financial success. Taking that even further, some of the most successful companies shown had explicitly declared diversity as a strategic goal.
It Can Improve Employee Performance and Reduce Turnover
When the workplace culture demands conformity, any employee who doesn’t fit in is bound to feel less comfortable, less likely to perform well, and ultimately, less likely to stick around. Not only that, but an employee who feels less accepted is less likely to share their ideas and opinions. You could be missing out on things that could be tremendously helpful to your company.
According to Forbes, diversity and inclusion in the workplace can boost innovation, which in turn can lead to increased profits.
It’s Good for Your Company’s Reputation
Both today’s workforce and today’s consumers have become increasingly concerned with the character of the companies they work for and patronize. They want to know that a company follows a code of ethics, that they are socially responsible, and that they treat their workers with respect.
Striving for diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a message to the world that you understand the current social, political, and economic landscape, and that you are meaningfully engaged with each of them.
Remember, too, that a company with a great reputation amongst its employees is bound to attract better talent whenever a job listing goes up. All of those 5-star employee reviews will go a long way toward securing top talent.
How to Create a Diverse Workplace
Creating a workplace that is centered around diversity and inclusion isn’t something you can do with the snap of your fingers. You need to build it into your company’s ethos and set strategic goals with the express purpose of fostering an open and inclusive environment. You must also identify the many hidden hiring biases that are inherent in all of us in order to avoid creating a homogenized environment of workers that look, think, and act just like you.
Here are some vital tips to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace:
Hire for Diversity
Perhaps the best way to create a diverse workplace is by building it from the ground up by intentionally hiring workers from all different walks of life. In order to do this, create a diverse recruitment panel, standardize your interview process, reward diverse referrals, and set hiring quotas to meet your particular diversity goals.
You can also hire a workforce solutions provider to help you access the most talented and diverse group of candidates possible. Outsourcing your hiring process can relieve you of the pressure of creating a diverse work environment by putting the task in the hands of a company with insight, expertise, strong connections, and invaluable industry knowledge.
Create a Culture of Inclusivity
While hiring is the most direct way to foster workforce diversity, the process can easily be subverted by hidden biases if you haven’t created a culture geared towards inclusivity. If you can install ideas about acceptance, understanding, inclusion, equality, and diversity into the DNA of your company, they will eventually find their way into every aspect of your operations.
To do that, you must first explicitly state that diversity is a company goal, and then you must put that plan into action by directing everyday dialogue towards diversity and inclusion, offering diversity training, and creating a diverse recruitment team. Most importantly, you must be open to learning from all members of your team, letting them know in no uncertain terms that you value their input.
Educate Yourself on Implicit Biases
It’s probably fair to assume that most of us tend to think that we don’t discriminate against people based on things like their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or anything else. In reality, you don’t have to be that one crazy uncle who shouts epithets at the table during Thanksgiving dinner to be unfairly biased towards others. In fact, unconscious biases are natural in all of us, and they don’t necessarily make us bad human beings…they just make us human.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the problem of unconscious bias in the hiring process in order to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. As with any problem, the first step is identifying what these biases are.
The following are some of the most common hidden biases people tend to harbor:
It’s just a fact of life that people like pretty faces. The problem is that a pretty face has no bearing on whether or not someone is capable of the job they’re being hired for…unless of course, it’s a modeling job.
Similarity Attraction Bias
We’re more drawn to people who have similar traits and characteristics to us. This is one of the more problematic biases when it comes to workforce diversity.
People often feel pressure from their peer group to express similar ideas and values. This is why it’s so important to foster a culture of inclusivity.
Once you know about the kinds of biases that can be present in your workplace, you can get one step closer to correcting them.
Looking to Create a Diverse Workplace?
When you want to make sure that you have a fully diverse and inclusive workplace, Employnet can help! Call (866) 527-HIRE or contact us today to discuss our services.