Just as diverse boards bring many different and valuable perspectives to an organization, a diverse group of employees brings many benefits to a company for the same reasons. When organizations are receptive to them, a diverse population of employees and volunteers brings a wide range of ideas, backgrounds and skill sets. Organizations work best when their workers resemble the community that the organization operates in and matches the demographic that it serves. Diversity prevents tunnel vision, which is important in reaching goals.
Two things set the stage for bringing diversity to the workforce. First, it requires a holistic approach to hiring and second, a stronger focus on retention.
Diversity Is More than Race
Diversity is more than someone’s genetics, heredity or the color of their skin. Diversity essentially means many different types of people, including religious backgrounds, gender, nationalities, differing physical abilities and much more. Minorities often feel more disconnected in less diverse regions, so organizations need to put a little more effort into creating organizational diversity. Getting a job or volunteering for an organization is a good way for minorities to adapt to this culture. Companies and organizations can usually do much more to help them adjust to our culture at work and within the community.
Recruiting for Greater Organizational Diversity
To draw the best candidates from a pool of diverse workers, organizations need to expand the geographical areas that they normally recruit from to reach more potential workers. When recruiting efforts are lacking, check in with churches, cultural institutions, colleges, and other places in the community to help find available diverse employees and volunteers. If your organization has something to offer workers that are out of the area, it helps to expand the search to other cities, states or countries. Another suggestion is to offer incentives to current employees for referrals.
Greater Organizational Diversity Requires Focusing on Retention
Organizations would be wise to monitor whether there’s a higher turnover for some groups than others. When minority groups continually leave, the organization is left with a homogenous faction. The solution to this issue is to focus on retention.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers guidelines for equal opportunities in employment. This federal agency aims to establish a neutral hiring platform for people of all ages, races, genders and minorities.
There are other notable changes that companies can make to promote more diversity across the organization. One solution is to form a committee that helps to implement an equal opportunity employment policy and brainstorm ideas on how to bring people with more diversity into the company. A good alternative to forming a committee is to form a few small affinity groups for the purpose of brainstorming ideas for new products, services or markets. These types of efforts demonstrate that organizations recognize that the differences in their workers are assets and not liabilities.
Organizations may also want to change their mission statements to reflect their commitment to diversity.
Acceptance of Various Cultures Promotes Organizational Diversity
Organizations also have a culture all their own. The culture can be exclusive, inclusive or somewhere in between. If certain groups are continually being driven away, the organization will get a negative reputation among some groups. Organizations that work toward increasing diversity need to uncover the forces that lead people from various groups to leave an organization. There may be underlying pervasive negative attitudes or actions among the other workers that are driving some people away. Some companies create surveys to get a pulse on how employees feel about certain issues that cause people to leave.
Organizations do well to address these issues so they can create and maintain organizational diversity.
Some organizations work to accommodate cultural and religious holidays. During the hiring process, organizations should be culturally sensitive in describing the workplace. For example, the Jehovah’s Witness faith doesn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, so to offer a worker that practices that faith a day off on their birthday may be considered disrespectful rather than a benefit.
To attract diverse workers, organizations may allow workers to wear their cultural attire as long as it is appropriate to the workplace and doesn’t create any safety hazards.
The surrounding community may also be able to partner with an organization to attract minorities. The local chamber of commerce may be able to encourage the addition of minority restaurants, specialty markets or international movies.
Improve Organizational Diversity with Diversity Training
A visible step that organizations can take to attract and retain a diverse workforce is to develop and offer training on diversity in the workplace. Education will help workers to understand the benefits of a more diverse workforce and aid in retaining minority workers. Diversity training sends a message to employees that the company hires based on the best candidates, not on quotas. In creating a better understanding of diversity among the workforce, it also helps to create a more welcoming and accepting environment for everyone.
Diversity at the Top Demonstrates an Organization’s Commitment to Diversity
Best practices for good governance suggest that boards and senior leadership should have diversity in their ranks. Managers at all levels should be educated to understand the benefits of a diverse workforce so they can utilize the unique talents and abilities of the workers. As people accept a position with an organization, they want to know that they have the ability to advance within it with full knowledge that being a minority won’t be a negative factor.
Modern Governance Tools Support Organizational Diversity
The modern workforce requires a commitment to a diverse workforce. A modern board management software program by BoardEffect answers the call for a secure platform where boards can work on issues related to diversity. The platform provides a secure online space where board directors and managers can communicate and collaborate about their diversity plans and all other matters in complete confidence.
Diversity shouldn’t only be important at the top levels of leadership. Employees and volunteers sometimes have a greater positive impact on organizations because of sheer numbers.