Workplace diversity occurs when organizations recognize the benefit to having an organization with employees of different ages, races, genders, life experiences, and thinking patterns. Diversity refers to acknowledging the similarities and differences between individuals and leveraging these qualities to support the business objective. Quite simply, diversity allows for more innovation and creativity because there is a diversity of thoughts and ideas. The decision to hire with a diversity purpose in mind does away with the concept of “groupthink” where leaders value harmony over critical evaluation. Some leaders may wonder why their organizations have not implemented new products or increased the bottom line in five years. They should survey their employees. Does everyone look, sound, or think alike? Do people agree simply to avoid conflict or being seen as a “troublemaker?” If so, the work environment is not diverse.
A recent Gallup survey indicated that 2/3 of the U.S. workforce are disengaged. According to TalentCulture, a disengaged employee is not poised to put in extra effort for success; they do not like going to work most days and are unwilling to recommend the products or services of, or employment with, their current employer. With the unemployment rate at an all-time low, employers must make conscience decisions on how to improve their workplaces in order to retain quality talent. Focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts is one way to improve retention and increase employee engagement.
Celebrating diversity can be achieved through cost effective means.
- Employers can provide mandatory training to all leaders about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
- Create an inclusive environment by creating small sets of actionable habits to make others feel welcomed. This can be accomplished by something as simple as smiling when passing someone in the hallway, sending an encouraging note or an instant message complimenting someone on a new pair of shoes.
- Schedule potluck parties celebrating the nationalities represented amongst employees.
- Create a reflection room that allows employees to meditate or pray.
- Acknowledge a variety of faiths and traditions. During the holidays, recognize Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan, to name a few, in addition to Christmas.
- Conduct town hall meetings and focus groups to receive feedback from employees on engagement issues.
- Partner with outside groups to champion diversity efforts. For example, if a company wants to hire more individuals with disabilities, they can partner with a non-profit or a special interest group as a target market, such as the Alliance on Autism.
- Support local diverse programs and events.
- Create shadowing and mentoring programs to allow employees to share their professional and personal experiences with others outside of their normal peer group.
Diversity leads to better decision-making, smarter and innovative teams, and a more culturally sensitive and engaged workforce – all factors that lead to improvements in a companies’ bottom line.
Watch the webinar here or listen to our podcast, Raising the HR Bar on the link below.