You’ve got a problem, and you’re not afraid to own up to it.
Your company isn’t diverse.
You know you can do better, and you want diversity and equity to be a priority in your organization. So, what now?
Let’s jump right into this important topic and get clear about:
- What diversity in the workplace really looks like
- Practical practices you can start implementing
- Your goals and timeline to increase workplace diversity
- Some mistakes you’ll want to avoid
Diversity, equity and inclusion: a business strategy
When we think about workplace diversity, usually, we think about the demographics of our employees.
We ask ourselves if we have diversity based on factors like:
- National origin
- Physical ability
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic background
- Veteran status
- Parent or family caregiver status
This is called representation – simply who is represented within your organization. And while representation is foundational to workplace diversity, it’s actually just the ground level of what we should be aiming for.
The next important piece is inclusion – assessing whether or not you have an environment that accepts, appreciates and acknowledges all job applicants and employees.
But diversity in the workplace should be more than just a staffing or HR consideration. Diversity, equity and inclusion should be part of every single component of your company’s business strategy.
This means when you’re developing your:
- Marketing strategy
- Recruiting strategy
- Vendor relationships
- Corporate and social responsibility policies
- Finance strategy
You’re also thinking about how diversity, equity and inclusion can play a role in all of the related decisions and goals.
For example, when you’re marketing your product or service:
- Are your communications geared toward one particular audience, or are they inclusive of all audiences?
- Do your messaging and deliverables ensure that no one feels isolated, less than or marginalized?
When you’re establishing vendor relationships:
- Are your suppliers diverse?
- Or do you only deal with vendors who look just like you?
When you’re designing your corporate and social responsibility programs:
- Are you donating to organizations that also support diversity, equity and inclusion?
- Or are your contributions geared toward organizations that appear to only support a certain group of people?
Companies who lead in the diversity, equity and inclusion space bring that commitment into every component of their overall business strategy and goals.
Recognizing where you can improve
You can become a more diverse workplace following the same strategy you would use for any other type of business initiative.
Step one: Assess your current status.
Representation is easy to measure. Whether you run simple reports or have access to in-depth people analytics, you’ll know fairly quickly how you’re doing in terms of representation.
However, inclusion is harder to assess. Most companies use surveys to find out if their employees really feel included. You can conduct surveys yourself or through a third-party, which may help some of your staff open up more.
Here are some statements you can ask your employees to rate in a survey on a scale from 1 to 5:
- I feel valued at my organization.
- My manager makes me feel that my contributions to the organization are valuable.
- I’m comfortable talking to my manager about my concerns within the organization.
- There is adequate representation of people who are like me within the organization.
- There are opportunities for me to advance.
- My company is committed to increase workplace diversity, equity and inclusion.
Step two: Determine your desired status – where you want to go as an organization.
This is what we talked about above, applied to your organization and what you feel is attainable.
You may also want to look at diversity factors in your local community and customer base to help you determine where you want to be in the future…