In today’s post, CAI’s HR Manager Melissa Short and Marketing Intern Andy Bradshaw discuss the strategies HR professionals should take in order to foster a diverse and inclusive organizational culture.
In 2013, Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of 1800 professionals that found a striking correlation between diversity and innovation in the workplace. The study examined what it terms “two-dimensional diversity”- which encompasses both inherent diversity, or traits you are born with such as gender and ethnicity, as well as acquired diversity, involving traits you gain from experience. The study referred to companies whose leaders exhibit at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits as having two-dimensional diversity, and found that that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform others.
In fact, employees at these companies are 45% likelier to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.
Though it may sound intuitive, the evidence for the business case for workplace diversity is significant. Along with carrying the obvious social value of creating a more inclusive, tolerant workplace, diversity in the office really can improve profits and your bottom line, as evidenced above.
Of course, most HR professionals don’t need to be told that diversity is important to the workplace, as they are most likely aware of its many benefits. Where many in HR may struggle with the process, however, is how to get started on tackling diversity initiatives with limited time and money. That’s where we’re here to help. By dividing the process into these easily digestible phases, you’ll not only be able to quickly lay the groundwork for a more diverse workplace, but also put your office on a path to sustaining this diversity going forward.
Selection and Hiring
To create a truly diverse workplace, you have to start at the beginning. Hiring people with different backgrounds may be an obvious way to improve diversity, but it takes a conscious effort to broaden recruiting efforts to reach those candidates. Here are a few ideas as to where to start this process:
- Think about where you look for candidates. Are you looking in markets or roles that seek out membership associations, clubs, and publications with minority or underrepresented community audiences? Right here in the Triangle, you could be looking at reaching out to minority publications such as Que Pasa and The Triangle Tribune in order to place job postings.
- But go beyond just posting a job to engaging and networking with the owners and employees in order to build longer term-genuine relationships.
- Train and educate hiring managers on the importance of organizational diversity, particularly the business benefits. By ensuring the hiring team is aware of both the social and financial need for diversity in the office, HR can lead the charge to finding more qualified and diverse minority candidates.
Enhancing Organizational Inclusion
Once you’ve moved past the selection and hiring of a diverse pool of candidates, how will you ensure they want to stay at your organization? It takes a company-wide commitment to cultivate a culture of organizational inclusion. Employees want to work in an environment where they feel supported and valued for their differences and Human Resources plays a large role in driving this culture. Here’s how HR can permeate inclusion throughout their organization’s culture:
- Go beyond handbook policies that cover anti-discrimination laws and consider including an organizational statement that addresses the company’s commitment to an environment of support and inclusion.
- Revisit your dress guidelines to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently excluding items that are cultural or religious in nature.
- Demonstrate a company commitment to utilizing minority-owned or managed businesses for key vendor relationships.
- Regularly review your pay system to identify and correct any pay inequities.
Sustaining diversity going forward
Now that you’ve planted the seeds of diversity within your organization, HR must do its part to ensure it continues to grow and prosper moving forward. Creating a diverse workplace is one thing, but what about keeping it that way? Here are a few tips to ensure your diverse workplace is here to stay:
- Ensure your minority employees have equal access to opportunities through the use of a minority mentorship program. This will not only give minority employees a space for engagement and advancement but also breaks down barriers between generations and other boundaries at work
- Train managers and all employees on cultural awareness and inclusion – this can be as simple as an online training course or even sharing an article or case study around this subject.
- Educate your front line managers around the business and social benefits of diversity and teach them to recognize any signs that point otherwise.
- Be transparent around your intent to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive work environment and the company practices that support it. By openly showcasing your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, you will continue to create a culture that fosters these ideals and attract employees who are dedicated to fulfilling them.
Though the process may seem overwhelming, it is imperative that HR leads the charge for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. By following these phases, you can foster a sense of inclusion that will transform your business for the better, both culturally and financially. For any other helpful tips about how to create a more diverse workplace, please let us know in the comments!