An organization doesn’t have a chance of success without its employees. Diverse teams, with their individual skill sets and proficiencies, come together to create something truly amazing that’s greater than the sum of their parts. To get the best from each employee regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, or race, we must proactively include them so they feel comfortable enough to show their full potential.
According to a McKinsey report, diversity leads to a more successful business. The report found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity were 35 percent more inclined to have above-average financial returns. Those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have above-average financial returns.
Implementing ways to invest in inclusion and diversity requires a balance of bold initiatives and paying attention to the details. While there are big changes you can make, there are also smaller, daily initiatives you can promote in the workplace as soon as possible. Impactful D&I doesn’t have to be all or nothing, rather it can build momentum gradually over time in a thoughtful and deliberate way.
Here are 15 ways you can start making diversity and inclusion a priority in your organization today.
- Use gender-neutral language in all job descriptions. Convert all gendered pronouns to gender-neutral pronouns like ‘they.’ There’s a helpful app that lets you copy and paste your job descriptions and will modify the language.
- Be clear about your commitment to building an inclusive and diverse workplace by stating your intentions in all job descriptions and on your company’s career page. This will send a strong and positive message to applicants.
- Create results-based job descriptions. Studies show that men will apply for a job when they meet 60 percent of the written qualifications, but women will only apply when they meet 100 percent of them. Instead of basing the job on a checklist of skills and tasks that may discourage female candidates from applying, focus on stating what the candidate will be expected to accomplish while on the job. Ideally, give time frames for each expectation.
- Minimize unconscious bias in the resume review process by conducting blind screenings. Resumes with female and “ethnic”-sounding names are rated lower than ones with male names, despite having equal resumes.
- Get rid of unconscious bias again by banning “culture fit” as a legitimate reason to reject an otherwise great candidate. When hiring managers act on a “gut feeling”, it’s a sign that something is amiss. Rather than flat-out reject a candidate based off unfounded feelings, angle your interviews to give specific feedback and have open conversations to uncover actual explanations.
- Cast a wider net in your recruiting process and explicitly seek out diverse candidates. This can be through referrals – you can ask your employees to look deeper within their networks, beyond their immediate circle. You can also post on job listing sites that make it their mission to help POC/female/non-binary people find jobs. Some great places to post are Tech Ladies, Jopwell, and PowerToFly. Pinterest has written about their experience adjusting their referrals process here.
- Structure your interviewing and training process to have a more organized flow. You don’t need to stick to a script, but there should be agreed-upon steps to take in the interview to lower the chance of bias. Ask each candidate a similar set of questions so you have a consistent data set to make objective decisions. This will help the recruiting process move along more quickly and smoothly as well.
- Encourage employees to take time off to celebrate their culture’s holidays and holy days – not just Christmas.
- Introduce diversity and inclusion as part of a new employee’s onboarding process, while making sure not to be preachy about it. Steer clear of dropping statistics, defining privilege, and more as to not overwhelm people. Simply express what diversity and inclusion mean to the organization and why they care.
- Keep the bathroom stocked with tampons, pads, and other necessities. If your organization has the budget for snacks, you can definitely swing this.
- Give your employees the freedom to do their work by allowing them flexible work hours. Show them you trust them to get their work done by letting them create their own hours or even working remotely. Many people have personal situations that affect their ability to stick to a strict schedule, such as taking kids to school and picking them up in the afternoon. Work with employee’s lives, not against them.
- Readjust the temperature of your office, as most buildings default to what’s comfortable for men. It’s possible that the office is prohibitively cold, making some employees layer up in sweaters and jackets.
- Blog about your D&I efforts. Being transparent attracts even more diversity, is applicants are looking for an inclusive, safe place to work. Ask employees to write about their experience at the organization so the perspective is fresh and authentic. Honesty and authenticity will be rewarded and may attract talented people to the company.
- Institute a parental leave policy. Be generous with the time given to new parents, and have it be available for both parents. Creating policies to support parents and caregivers of all kinds is a huge step in making a workplace more inclusive. Also, support new mothers by making designated spaces for breastfeeding – SpareFoot is a great example of a company that has a dedicated lactation room.
- Set fair salaries at the get-go so there is less room for negotiation later on. Studies show that men are more apt to negotiate than women and that when women do negotiate, they’re likely to be punished for it. Consider limited salary ranges to avoid this, and be upfront about it.
A cultural shift
Here at SaneBox, we value inclusion and diversity, which is why our remote work policy is so crucial to our company culture. Our team is full of working parents, employees taking care of older parents and grandparents, and quite simply, people with important responsibilities outside of work. Remote work allows our team the flexibility and freedom to get their work done on their own schedule so they can tend to their personal lives and obligations.
We believe it’s essential to integrate the concepts and values of diversity and inclusion into all facets of the organization. Allow your human resources initiatives to be just that – human, and allow people to be themselves, which will help them thrive.
The advantages of diversity and inclusion will feed off one another and will lead to happier, more productive people. That, in turn, leads to a more innovative and successful business that will attract top talent.
Above everything else, listen to your employees and invest in the things that matter to them. By starting small and letting these actions create momentum across the organization, change will happen, slowly but surely.