Diversity in the workplace is imperative to business success. Diversity can be defined through a variety of lenses. Age, race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, immediately come to mind, but have you considered educational background, managerial experience, neurodiversity and even personality traits.
Study after study reveals that the demographics of the American workforce are constantly changing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau traditionally underrepresented populations will hit majority status by 2024.
At the same time, stark disparities exist within different sectors and management groups. As of 2018, women held only 22.5 percent of Fortune 500 board seats, and minorities only represented 16.1%.
Strength Through Unity
Creating a more diverse workplace can yield a number of benefits for your business. Companies that are racially and ethnically diverse regularly outperform the industry. In fact a report from McKinsey found that companies in the top quarter for racial, ethnic, and gender diversity were 35% and 15% respectively, more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
Plus, when employees are aware of each other’s unique traits and backgrounds, they can more easily find ways to use these varied strengths to accomplish a common goal. Staff that can appreciate the variety of experience shared by coworkers can promote broader cooperation.
As you create a more varied workplace, you also open the door to problems arising from unconscious bias. Open communication and training can go a long way to promote and inclusive and respectful workplace.
What Can You Do?
Train Your Staff
By providing management teams with diversity awareness training, you can equip them to help create a more inclusive workplace across generations and backgrounds. Educate employees on how to create a culture of respect and tolerance. Bring in outside support to provide workers with helpful tools to resolve communication problems and avoid the potential friction of culture clash.
Establish Corporate Guidelines
Create a company policy that clearly defines the inclusive nature of your recruitment, compensation, benefits, professional development, and social programs. Make it clear that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated, and define the consequences for violating policy. Obtain executive buy-in to help create a top-down culture of inclusivity.
Whenever possible try to account for the varied cultural and personal requirements of your staff. Some employees may need scheduling flexibility to accommodate prayer times or religious holidays. Those staff with disabilities may need more flexible break periods to deal with chronic medical issues.
Avoid Unconscious Prejudice
Bring in outside experts to do a full analysis of the state of diversity in your workplace. Use this evaluation to identify any blind spots or policies that could undermine your inclusive culture.
Consider using blind hiring techniques to evaluate candidates. Studies have repeatedly shown that candidates with ethnic-sounding names are ascribed with negative characteristics—solely because their names suggest they are non-white.
By removing these considerations from the hiring process, you can not only promote diversity, but also avoid the potential of a discrimination claim.
The Next Step
With the strength of a diverse workforce, your business will be better equipped to meet the challenges of today’s economy and in a better position to reach a broader cross-section of the market.