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Building a More Diverse and Inclusive Business

Businesses that are more diverse and inclusive are also more creative, disruptive and vibrant than homogenous enterprises. Multiple studies have proven beyond doubt the many benefits of workplace diversity for both employers and employees. However, businesses continue to struggle with a persistent lack of workplace diversity, less out of lack of intention and more out of lack of comprehensive diversity initiatives.

Today’s workplace diversity initiatives need to reflect our society’s current open-minded and nuanced understanding of diversity. That means recognizing that diversity also exists beyond gender and race. It also refers to different sexual orientations, religious beliefs, cultural background, education, disabilities and much more. 

To create a workforce that reflects the actual depth of diversity in the outside world, businesses need to introduce and nurture rigorous diversity initiatives throughout their organizations. In fact, this is one of the purposes of a business plan, thus making sure your business is diverse enough to reach its full potential. Below is a complete guide on how businesses can begin to create a truly diverse and inclusive workspace:

Collect and Analyze Data

To create relevant diversity initiatives a business must first understand the existing demographic makeup of its workforce. And whether it reflects the demographic diversity found in the labor market. Businesses can create surveys where employees can anonymously self-identify on different parameters like ethnicity, gender expression, religion etc. This data will allow employers to understand exactly how diverse their workforce is, which departments/teams show greater diversity and pin-point problematic areas and trends within the organization.

Evaluate Existing Policies

Apart from analyzing freshly collected demographic data, businesses must also evaluate existing policies that might be hindering the employment of people from diverse groups. Such policies once identified need to be done away with. For instance, if employee referrals are your organization’s most dominant sourcing strategy then you might be inadvertently homogenizing your workforce. Studies highlight that employees often refer candidates who are similar to them in terms of their race, nationality, socio-economic background etc. So, while employee referrals can be an effective way to hire, it must be used judiciously and preferably in combination with other sourcing solutions.

Evaluate individual departments and teams to identify if certain demographics are underrepresented. Studies have shown that we sometimes let our unconscious biases get the better of us. So, it is quite possible that certain problematic departments might be headed by managers who are unconsciously biased against particular demographic groups. Diversity training might be needed for such employees.

Communicate and Secure Support

Once you have identified diversity initiatives you need to implement, communicate it throughout the organization. To foster a culture that supports diversity it is imperative to keep communicating to your employees about the different inclusion initiatives the business has undertaken. Make use of different tools like social media, newsletters and presentations among others readily available to every business. Use personal stories and data-backed arguments to show how diversity initiatives have bolstered the organization’s bottom line and business plans.

In addition to successful communication, you would also need the support of senior management to undertake and maintain these initiatives. Connecting diversity initiatives to a business’s strategic objectives will help secure the support of senior executives. Try identifying a senior manager who can be asked to publicly support such initiatives. This will give much-deserved attention to these initiatives while ensuring employees keep engaging with it. 

Review and Revise

Keep reviewing and measuring the outcomes of implemented diversity initiatives. As your workforce demographics change, you would have to make a corresponding change in the thrust of your inclusion initiatives. Use employee surveys again to gauge the impact your initiatives have had. Treat this as an ongoing endeavor rather than a one-time effort. Prepare to refocus and adjust as the need arises.

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