Diversity is not a modern-day concept. In the 1950s, Sloan Wilson’s best-selling novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit alluded to the ills of giving up one’s personal identity for the sake of conforming to social standards. At the time, conformity was perceived to define success, until a new way of thinking led to the counter-cultural movement in the 1960s.
To put things in perspective, you need to realize that diversity is not limited to cultural aspects. Rather, diversity encompasses many other factors such as age, gender, social class, disability, religion, political beliefs, communication style, and so much more.
Diversity in the workplace aims to manage individual differences to eliminate the gap between shortages of talent, regardless whether you need local or international candidates, and empowering companies to be competitive in the global market.
But, more than just a goal, diversity is also a process for creating change. It’s an initiative that should involve ongoing and simultaneous activities in policy making, education, collaboration, and evaluation.
Steps to Diversifying Your Workforce
Here’s a step-by-step guide if you’re looking to diversify your organization:
- Prepare for launch
Top-level management should take the initiative in planning diversity efforts prior to officially introducing an organization-wide initiative. Here are the main things to consider in the planning stage:
- Allocating budget
- Sourcing educational materials
- Forming a diversity committee
- Setting a timetable for committee meetings
- Hiring a consultant
- Establish a framework
Your framework should provide a clear, definite direction for your diversity campaign. Your framework should contain:
- The philosophy statement of the organization
- Expected outcomes and perceived benefits
- An action plan that does not oppose company operations
- A set of success-measuring criteria
- A selection of model diversity partner companies
- Implement the initiative
This phase sets the plan into action and provides insights to the diversity committee regarding issues, problems, and advantages related to the initiative. The following steps are crucial:
- Engaging the services of a professional consultant
- Conducting a needs assessment, reflecting on how current systems, policies, or procedures are working
- Setting priorities and timelines for better diversity management program
- Communicating accomplishments to the organization through newsletters, bulletins, meeting agendas, etc.
- Integrate people and activities
All employees are encouraged to join training programs and other diversity-related educational programs, as diversity committee members evaluate which activities are greatly contributing to the organization’s diversity goals. At this stage, your organization should be ready to:
- Design effective training ideas and programs culled from professional and expert trainers
- Collect feedback from training participants
- Address possible reactions, especially those that signify resistance to overall diversity efforts
- Evaluate the practice
You’d do well to perform an informal evaluation, as well as a formal evaluation based on design and methodology to assess how your diversity efforts are impacting the organization.
Are your efforts showing progress, no progress, or unforeseen changes? To help you come up with an effective evaluation:
- Focus on the pre-set goals and objectives
- Gather data showing change among employees and within the organization
- Identify barriers to and catalysts of change for future planning
- Reexamine the whole thing
Use your evaluation results to redefine goals, improve existing systems, add new ideas, and plan for the future. It’s also a good opportunity to renew collaborative ties with participants, partners, and planners of the program.
- Consolidate your efforts
Once you have identified which part of your diversity methodologies is the most effective, be ready to incorporate them into the overall culture of the organization. Then, work on areas where further improvement is needed.
How to Improve Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is all about giving a fair chance in recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees, no matter who or what they are. Below are some dos and don’ts in enhancing your diversity efforts:
Diversity in Recruitment
- When posting job ads, do not choose hiring networks where people with similar interests converge. Otherwise, you might achieve a culture of sameness in your current workforce.
Your best alternative when sourcing diverse talent is local organizations in various communities. They have linkages with churches, colleges, and other institutions in their area. You can also approach nonprofit organizations, as they are primarily focused on incorporating diversity in fulfilling their mission.
- Communicate in your job posts your organization’s policies against discrimination, and highlight why you support diversity. Personalize your statement to make it clear that you are seeking for diverse candidates to join your organization.
Diversity in Hiring
- Do not focus exclusively on the candidate’s grades when setting your hiring criteria. Take underlying factors into consideration such as recommendations from former employers and awards or training received.
- Be flexible in setting educational requirement. A Master’s Degree qualification may be interspersed with a Bachelor’s Degree title, alongside years or relevant professional experience.
- Form a diverse hiring panel to conduct the interviews. This will ensure objectivity and fairness in the selection process.
Diversity in Employee Retention
- Do not cluster diverse people in select departments in the organization. Put them in the creative department, as well as in technical teams. Then, allow employees to have opportunities for interaction and networking through social events or team building activities.
- Design policies that promote a diversity-friendly work culture and environment. Offer flexible schedules, leave options, meal choices, recreational activities, and the like.
Diversifying the workplace is full of challenges and is a complex process, but it’s also replete with rewards. Your employees feel motivated, and your business gains a stronger foothold in people management and global competitiveness. No wonder, many companies are becoming more committed to this endeavor, and so should you.