Growing diversity and inclusivity awareness and its implementation within your organization requires more than a press release and the launch of a new “initiative.” While a statement of intent is a good starting point, many corporations fall short in the follow-through phase, leaving a gap between their word and their action.
Help your company evolve into a culture that attracts diverse, eager young talent by following some best practices. You can do it all while promoting an aware, proactive, inclusive work environment from entry-level to executive leadership.
Evaluate and seek feedback
Announcing a policy of diversity and inclusivity means nothing without effective, actionable content at all levels. A successful D&I initiative will often require a sea change in organizational culture, alongside a willingness to align with talent and appropriately manage and influence the client or consumer expectations.
Begin by evaluating your current culture. The best machine for one purpose isn’t necessarily the best machine for another use. If your current setup isn’t welcoming and nurturing toward diversity and inclusivity practices, you may need to build a new one instead of trying to add a one-idea-will-fix-it-all D&I policy.
Sit down with employees and take the pulse of how you are really doing in the area of creating a diverse, inclusive and welcoming workplace. Ask for feedback and offer options that allow employees to be open and frank without fear of retribution or other pushback.
Once you’ve gathered honest feedback at this level, move up to the managerial level and repeat.
Finally, sit down with leadership and explore how you can effectively implement recommended changes. This is the ideal time to evaluate existing processes to see whether there is anything worth salvaging and implementing alongside new initiatives. If they arise, resist tendencies to categorize or create any type of unofficial quota.
Cultivate new hiring practices
Companies that attract and deploy diverse talent tend to excel, according to Diversity Matters, a report published by McKinsey & Company. Find ways to make it clear that you always want the best person for the job. This won’t always mean the “most qualified” or the most experienced. The right candidate may have a completely different background than you expected, but keen insight and the ability to translate the knowledge they possess into valuable skills that fit the open position.
Think about the words and images you use to represent your organization. Stock images are heavy on white and male representation, particularly in fields traditionally dominated by this demographic. When you diversify your company imagery, it becomes easier to diversify your company. No one wants to be the only person of color in an otherwise homogeneous office, the sole woman in an organization full of men, or the one forty-something at a table of twenty-somethings.
Consider blinding applications when meeting as a group to discuss potential new hires. Eliminating names and photographs (and even home addresses and colleges) can help to even the playing field, removing unconscious bias. The goal is to naturally diversify and strengthen your workforce with a broad range of talents, not to “paint-by-number” your organization.
Manage initiatives effectively, proactively and daily
D&I isn’t just something to be aware of in hiring ads, at orientation and in seminars. Managing diversity and inclusivity initiatives requires making them multi-faceted and applying daily attention and effort to drive real results.
Facilitate employee resource groups (ERG), and enable employees to participate for easier D&I management. ERGs can be the ideal opportunity to grow and develop talent. Getting senior leaders on board can signal clear commitment and help to align ERG activities with business goals while improving diversity and inclusion practices.
Diversify teams, blending younger and older employees, experienced leaders and fresh new talent, and practice inclusivity when it comes to racial, cultural and educational differences. This can help build trust and allow teams to break out of narrow thinking, encouraging growth in appreciation of new ideas and methods of doing things.
Consider various belief systems, and ensure that your policies are fair and equitable across all religious and cultural demographics. Remember to include those who practice no religion. They are often excluded from benefits since they don’t participate in religious ritual but are equally deserving of breaks or time off to quiet the mind or refocus during the day.
By focusing on meaningful actions within your organization instead of simply holding meetings and making announcements, you can drive actual change when it comes to the implementation of D&I initiatives.