The topics of diversity and inclusion at work have rightfully been amplified as of late. Hopefully, your organization already has some efforts to encourage these important practices. To promote more accountability and further improve upon your current strategies, you need a practical approach and 100% team alignment.
There are a multitude of reasons why American workplaces must change, but one of the main ones is that the country is changing demographically, according to this U.S. Bureau report. There’s a solid business case for encouraging diversity and inclusion, and companies need leaders who reflect the changing landscape. Research finds that when teams reflect their target customers, the entire organization is twice as likely to provide effective solutions for their end users.
We wrote earlier on the benefits collected from promoting inclusion and diversity efforts in the workplace. Here are five ways to show better advocacy for these practices at work.
Diversify Your Hiring and Outreach Process
Diversifying your team only happens if you hire from diverse groups. There are actions you can take to eliminate hiring bias and increase your outreach to diverse groups.
To start, consider how the tone in your job postings or the language on your website reflects your commitment to diverse hiring practices. People from diverse groups may not feel comfortable responding to your hiring efforts if they feel like they wouldn’t belong at your company. Seek out different channels where finding diverse candidates may be easier. Job websites such as Jopwell, Tech Ladies, and Power To Fly are great places to source talented applicants. You may also consider looking for universities that host a more diverse student body, or attending career fairs such as the LGBTQ Career Fair which specifically targets LGBT cadidates.
Next, you need to work on eliminating bias when going through the screening and interviewing phase of the hiring process. Consider implementing software that can promote inclusiveness, and discourage practices like asking for gender or minority status. You could use gender-neutral language in all job descriptions, and 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. Or, you could even try conducting blind interviews by removing all personal information beforehand to better evaluate the competencies and skills of a potential hire. Hiring managers could be trained to look for talent and potential rather than “culture fit”, as this may be misinterpreted as just trying to find people they could get along with.
Practice Inclusive Leadership
Leaders need to create and maintain a safe environment where all employees can feel welcome, speak up, and be heard. They should solicit feedback often and embrace the input of staff members whose backgrounds, opinions, or expertise differ from their own. Fostering collaboration among teammates, facilitating constructive arguments, asking questions of all members of the company, and giving actionable feedback are all great places to start. Acting upon the advice of diverse staff members is essential, too. Don’t just “talk the talk.”
Additionally, leaders can make diverse employees feel included and valued by regarding authenticity over conformity and understanding that a range of communication and presentation styles can succeed in the organization.
Conduct Sensitivity Training and Identify Unconscious Bias
Topics like harassment, discrimination, communication skills, anger management, and diversity should all be covered in sensitivity training. Group and one-on-one coaching sessions should be offered in the context of leadership or team development, or when there is a violation of workplace policy in any of the mentioned areas.
When it comes to unconscious bias, the problem lies in the fact that some of us are unaware that we have these biases at all. Becoming aware is the first step, and figuring out how to tackle them in the next.
People in your organization may do or say things unknowingly that cause harm to others in the form of microinequities or microaggressions. To promote inclusion, you might consider formally introducing training programs provided by third parties that bypass the issue of organizational bias. If you anticipate reluctance from your team, you could implement sensitivity training to make it part of a general soft skills training, such as conflict resolution and communication.
Revamp Your Company Policies Around Diversity And Inclusion At Work
Strengthen diversity and inclusion and reinforce your commitment to your initiatives with company policies. Policies are essential because they create an enforceable framework to guide your team. Some of the policies you might put into action include:
- Family Leave: Consider ways you could reduce the inequities that come with typical maternity leave procedures. For example, you might enact a policy that grants the same time off to new fathers, instead of just new mothers.
- Diversity Targets: Create company-wide targets to increase diversity in each department. Track the metrics of your implementation to help you identify ways you could do better in certain areas. Worry about improving the numbers to shape a more diverse team while improving them consistently.
- Promotion Structure: Promotions are often driven by relationship bias, which leads to an unequal opportunity in an organization. Although company politics will probably always be a thing, consider ways you can promote a meritocratic system that favors results instead of personal recommendations.
- Rules and Regulations: Take time to create enforceable and clear rules against discrimination in your organization. This should include displays of sexism, racism, and homophobia, as well as microaggressions that are more subtle. Take it a level higher by creating a code of conduct that tackles general rules for respect and bullying.
- Commit to Change: Document your commitment to diversity and inclusion at work. Some ways you can do this are by consulting regularly with your team about your initiatives, getting external consultants involved, complying with legal issues around diversity in a transparent way, and publicizing your progress and initiatives.
Commit To Change Around Diversity And Inclusion At Work
Committing your organization to diversity and inclusion practices isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smartest choice for business. Diverse backgrounds, experiences, and opinions will lead to more innovative results. Leaders with global ambitions will find that diversity and inclusion will also be key tools to reach out to emerging markets. With a world expected to comprise 9.7 billion humans by 2050, orienting your business toward diverse practices will result in a significant edge for your company’s ability to compete.