How to Show Your Employees That Your Company Values Diversity
Diversity in the workplace is viewed very favorably by the overwhelming majority of workers. From gender to nationality to experience and ability, diversity is helpful in all areas because it widens the perspective of teams and the company at large. Just as a diversity of tactics is the best toolkit for resolving conflicts, a wealth of talent, experience, and personality is a winning strategy in the workplace as well.
Employee diversity has been a contentious issue in some places for decades. The increasingly small world we live in has engendered a collision of people from all walks of life in the majority of workplaces. Contention with this state of affairs is by and large limited to a fraction of people with an archaic worldview. Most employees want to work in a place that is open, inclusive, and variable. Diversity in the workplace creates all of these conditions.
Demonstrating the value your company places on diversity to the employees who work there can be done in many ways. Some businesses make the mistake of trying to boost one kind of diversity or feature aesthetic differences to create the illusion of inclusivity and this tragic mistake can damage employees’ perception of the company.
Fostering real diversity in the workplace is easy to do and tends to be self-replicating once strategies are in place. That means companies who diversify tend to remain diverse even as the employment structure or individual workers change over time, whether that means people leaving the company or going remote.
Diversity in the workplace is more than the mere existence of people of various ethnicities, nationalities, ages, genders, or sexual orientations. Employee diversity means workplace inclusivity. It’s not only outright prejudice or uniformity across departments that negatively affect diversity in the workplace. Communication, dispute resolution processes, rewards systems, and effective hiring procedures are some of the main places companies can show they care about and are trying to foster diversity in the workplace.
All of these tactics double as great employee retention strategies and help the bottom line as well. Promoting employee diversity across many areas is an inexpensive and straightforward way to keep talent happy. If you’re struggling to implement strategies into real employee diversity, then this guide is for you.
Defining Diversity in the Workplace
Understanding what diversity is can help identify which strategies to implement to promote employee diversity. The employees’ perceptions of the company and its efforts to promote diversity in the workplace also tend to be much more positive if there is a well-defined end goal rather than a vague feeling of fairness.
Diversity is more than just representation and it doesn’t have to be limited to the demographics of the employees. A multitude of different viewpoints and skillsets also make for more imaginative and comprehensive decision-making. While theoretical fairness is not an achievable goal, fairness in, say, hiring practices and salary grades are more concrete. Including these definite ends will help determine the means your company uses to achieve them.
When gauging the level of diversity in the workplace, it’s important to include the thoughts and impressions of the employees. Management all too frequently has a different idea of the workplace than the people who work underneath them. It’s also important to consider the reality within different departments.
Studies show that companies shouldn’t focus on specific areas of diversity, but on creating teams with different areas of diversity. Including the employees in the determination and definition of diversity in the workplace is the best way to make sure efforts toward that end are successful and helpful to your workers instead of limiting or burdening them.
9 Ways to Show Your Employees That Your Company Values Diversity
Companies have largely turned to a few different methods to try and improve employee diversity and demonstrate its worth to employees. Diversity at work is highly sought after by workers who are already pro-diversity, but using a mixture of the following methods can help other employees see the light as well.
1- Diversity & Anti-Bias Training
This is the first thing many people think of when they hear about diversity at work. While they are effective, training sessions are likely to appeal to people who already agree with their general aim. For individual employees who don’t value diversity at work, these training and education sessions might be viewed as being a waste of time. That’s why it’s crucial to design them to be as unobtrusive as possible. Some companies have also found success in making these programs voluntary. In that case, incentivizing them is the best way to make sure a broad swath of employees attends. One tactic that works well is scheduling the training for the late afternoon and letting employees leave work early when training is done.
Because anti-bias training tends to focus on exposing hidden attitudes in people that they were not conscious of before, they can stir uncomfortable cognitive dissonance that might provoke negative responses from people with a high amount of hidden bias. That doesn’t mean employees should be handled with kid gloves, but there should be some actionable follow-up to diversity training. Feedback is a pretty good idea, but roundtables and team discussions are the best of all because then employees get to define diversity in the workplace for themselves.
2- Manager Education
Most noticeable when it comes to hiring but also more generally in day to day operations, managers and leaders are the ones who will wind up enforcing and implementing policies that promote diversity at work. They’re also the ones whose hidden biases can cause the most damage if left unchecked. For that reason, making sure they have the resources to challenge workplace bias and promote diversity at work is a great tactic.
As with regular employees, making managers go through a program with an accusatory tone can cause extremely negative reactions and might even have the opposite of the desired effect. Managers should be allowed to come to their own conclusions about diversity in the workplace in general and then apply those conclusions to their own workplace. This is best done in teams to make sure internal biases aren’t left unaddressed.
Managers are also likely places to find more strategies to promote employee diversity. If you let management play a large role in creating and implementing strategies, you’ll see better results. They’ll be more enthusiastic about workplace diversity if they feel the directive is at least partly their brainchild.
3- Revisit Hiring Procedures
One of the most common ways companies demonstrate a lack of diversity and awareness is in their hiring processes. This is a nightmare scenario because failure to include diversity awareness in the hiring procedure will likely lead to a uniform workplace. Too much unconscious bias can cause people to hire people who are like themselves and once that happens it may take time to properly diversify.
For many people, hiring to promote diversity in the workplace means affirmative action policies and nothing else. Those policies have become highly politicized since their inception and are likely to cause problems with individual workers who don’t agree with them. Quotas and favorability in the hiring process isn’t the only way to improve employee diversity, though.
Rather than limiting who can be hired for a certain position, think about what kind of skills your company is missing when you’re creating a role. If you have an objective idea of the concrete experience and skills you need, you’ll be more likely to hire the right person and add some diversity to the workplace in the process. If you’re having trouble testing out a new role to define it, using a creative staffing agency like icreatives can save you time and give you creative talent to test a role without a long-term commitment.
4- Include Employees in the Decision-Making Process
If you want to promote diversity in the workplace, you can start by taking advantage of the diversity that’s already there. The best way to do this is to let employees take some part in decision-making, especially around diversity strategies. Unless yours is one of the few companies with a uniform staff, involving more employees generally means involving more diverse employees as well.
Many people call this a “seat at the table” but it’s important that this not be a mere aesthetic or figurative inclusion. For real inclusivity, the diverse employees should be given some amount of real power to help the company craft its diversity policies. It’s not a bad idea to practice this idea in every decision-making process at the company you possibly can.
5- Create a Long-Term Career Path
Your company can use insourcing and internal promotion to demonstrate that they have a future ahead of them there. Since C-suite executives commonly trend white, male, and rich, promoting from within and insourcing can both help to add workplace diversity at the highest levels of the company. Granted, this shouldn’t get in the way of hiring the best talent possible, but it’s also one of the best ways to make sure that happens.
Many businesses waste resources on headhunting external candidates when they hire senior talent. Promoting from within not only helps with employee retention, but it also saves time and money. It will be much more likely to promote an employee who already knows and understands the company’s brand, internal systems, and growth goals. If you’re not sure how to use insourcing and internal promotion to promote employee diversity, contact icreatives so we can help.
6- Take Time to Celebrate Diversity
Although this may seem like one of the simplest tactics, many companies make mistakes when implementing it and come across as clueless or heavy-handed on matters of diversity in the workplace. Celebrating employee diversity doesn’t mean handing medals to all the workers who are members of one minority or another. Think of it more like celebrating all your employees and highlighting various attributes from time to time.
It can sound a little bit like goody bags at a birthday party, but every employee wants some recognition for the hard work that they do and their achievements. Applying this principle to diversity is a two birds, one stone solution.
When you try to think of ways to celebrate diversity, steer away from awards, and accolades. Give employees space to speak for themselves and explain their perspective. In the end, all the identities that come together to make what we call diversity are best exemplified by the people themselves. Create situations where they can talk from their point of view and even teach one another about more diverse viewpoints. This will create a more enjoyable workplace culture in addition to promoting employee diversity.
7- Add Diversity in HR
If there are pro-diversity policies in place, who is responsible for enforcing them? In most companies, it’s either a task force or an HR department. When the people in charge of making sure discrimination doesn’t happen in the workplace aren’t diverse themselves, it can create a clashing of optics. Plus, a non-diverse team might not look out for discrimination against people who aren’t viewed as being in the same group.
The dispute process and submitting complaints should be logical, quick, and simple to do. Many employees may also want to remain anonymous when they submit complaints. There’s also a risk of a poorly constructed complaint procedure being weaponized against employees for personal reasons. Make sure employees have a say in the disciplinary process in whatever way you can manage it because that’s the best way to get fair results.
8- Build a Coherent Dispute Process
Not only should the complaint process be led by a diverse task force or HR department, but the way employees can notify management of discrimination should be easy, anonymous, and effective. The worst thing a company can have is an opaque procedure that never seems to correct bad behavior or have any result at all.
Naturally, we’re not talking about a public execution here. But employees should know that an avenue exists for them to raise concerns and correct discriminatory behavior. It’s a critical element of employee diversity policies and a great comfort to everyone in the workplace.
9- Raise Cultural Awareness
Celebrating diversity in the workplace is a great way to mix professional achievements and pro-diversity policies. But there should also be methods for the company to put a spotlight on different aspects of diversity just for the fun of it. A diverse workforce is likely to have different experiences with food, music, and other cultural mainstays and everyone will enjoy getting a small sample. Anytime you’re thinking about doing any kind of team-building exercise, make sure to add a degree of diversity to make it appealing, accessible, and fun for all.
Lunch potlucks and cultural events outside the office are two of the most popular ways companies raise cultural awareness in their employees. Just make sure not to infringe too much on employees’ free time with mandatory or de facto mandatory events. Spoiling work-life balance is a quick way to spoil employee’s perception of the company and diversity policies all at once.
How to Use Creative Staffing Agencies to Promote Diversity in the Workplace
We’ve already mentioned a little bit about how using icreatives to insource can improve employee retention and lead to a more diverse C-suite. We can also help thanks to our already diverse pool of creative talent. We’ve had so many years of experience in finding the best creative talent that we have contacts from all walks of life and a plethora of different professional experiences. That means using icreatives can be one of the fastest and least expensive ways to boost diversity in the workplace at the entry-level.
Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and diversity in the workplace similarly fosters more creativity and a broader perspective that leads to better and more effective solutions. Promoting employee diversity can be done with a variety of different methods provided the company has taken care to tailor them to the specifics of the workforce.
No matter which of the tactics you use to boost employee diversity, including the employees themselves in the decision-making process and in the task forces that ensure discrimination is corrected is the best way to give employees a sense of ownership over the diversity policies. This makes the policies more effective and gives the employees a greater sense of belonging in the company overall.
From a practical perspective, diversity creates better work product and employee retention. It will also create the best possible workplace atmosphere and, if you can show them that the company values diversity, make for happier employees overall.