Promoting Diversity Within Your Company

Javi Fondevila

These days, diversity is a hot topic. With huge companies, both private and public, going to great lengths to be more diverse as the world becomes more inclusive, it is something that you need to be paying attention to.

Over 150 CEOs of the largest companies in the U.S. alone have publicly committed to diversity efforts, and hiring practices are under the microscope and, naturally, more open to scrutiny as a result. It seems that organizations are trying hard to get ahead of today’s pressing issues today instead of being the subject of bad press tomorrow.

Diversity should not just be seen as a box-ticking exercise, though; a diverse workforce can bring with it plenty of commercial benefits.

Improving Your Organization’s Diversity

You don’t need to do a whole lot to do this and it is very easy to get started. Often, it is a case of looking at your organization with a critical eye and finding where changes can be made.

1. Start with what your organization needs

The first and most important step towards a more inclusive organization is finding out where you should begin. Be sure to think about what diversity efforts will best fit and benefit your organization before you go diving in; if you don’t focus on the unique needs of your company then you will most likely fail in your efforts no matter how good your intentions.

Don’t do this alone, though. Carry out anonymous polls and surveys internally to gauge the thoughts and opinions of your staff members. As people on the “front line” within your organization, they will know best where diversity may be lacking.

2. Create goals that can be measured and are reachable

Once you know where diversity-related improvements can be made, it is time to pursue them.

Although there is no shortage of ways you can chase diversity, having a plan that keeps your goals in mind is by far the most efficient way you can do it. Any diversity-related plan should contain realistic, measurable, and attainable goals. If your plan is too lofty and contains gals that cannot be achieved, your morale will tank as a result and your employees may feel as if they are not being listened to.

As a business leader, you should appreciate the importance of goal setting already; without them, you cannot measure success or be held accountable for successes (but you will always be accountable for failures and shortfalls.)

3. Make diversity a company policy

While diversity starts at the top with senior and mid-level management, it doesn’t stop there; all employees are responsible for promoting a diversity plan and helping it flourish.

Although managers do need to take the lead with it (and specific training should be provided to this effect), front-line employees are the face of your organization; they are your company’s day-to-day who strike up relations with customers and are the key to long-term success.

If diversity is not a company policy set in stone—and by that we mean your diversity plan(s)—you will not succeed.

4. Constantly make improvements and updates to your plan(s)

As your organization grows, changes, and develops, your diversity needs and challenges will, too. Therefore, your diversity and inclusion plan(s) constantly need to be reviewed and updated to make sure they are keeping pace.

It’s not all about major organizational changes, though. Smaller and more subtle changes such as a change in your company’s employee demographics, among others, will warrant the need to switch up your plan(s).

This is why the most successful companies have dedicated teams, often subsets of HR teams, who are tasked with monitoring and handling diversity as their main roles.

5. Plan for bad behavior and resistance

No matter how good your plan, intentions, and efforts, no organization is 100 percent perfect. As such, you may find that you have employees who are resistant to the changes or miss the mark when it comes to meeting your diversity and inclusion policy.

While your plan cannot address this type of behavior in a way that prevents it, it can include mechanisms, including disciplinary procedures, for employees who don’t follow it. Any diversity plan should also plan for bad behavior and employee resistance and how it will be addressed.

Nothing is more detrimental to diversity than employees.

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