Encouraging Diversity

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe strategies companies use to maintain and encourage diversity

four employees working on computers. There are two Black women and two Black men.Let’s imagine a company has decided to put time and effort into creating a more diverse workforce. They reevaluate their hiring process and recruit to a wider variety of individuals. After filling all open positions, they were successfully able to fill their diversity goal while still hiring the most qualified people for the job. So this means their company is now diverse, right? Well, on paper that might be an accurate statement; however, what the company does after they hire a diverse group of employees is equally as important. If companies hire for diversity but then endorse conformity, are they really diverse? The answer is no. Promoting diversity is key to having a diverse organization. If you hire a variety of individuals and they feel isolated when they start working, word will travel quickly and prevent minorities from applying for future job openings.

So how does a company promote diversity? There are many strategies companies can use to foster an inclusive working environment. First, people need to know that is it okay to acknowledge differences. Being aware of differences is the first step in ensuring your actions and words are respectful and inclusive in nature. Some companies even offer Implicit Bias Training to help their employees identify biases they may not have realized they had. Harvard’s Project Implicit provides online Implicit Association Tests (IAT) which can reveal implicit attitudes you may have towards certain groups of people. Having open conversations about inclusiveness and acceptance of people from all backgrounds is key to a healthy working environment. The bottom line is; it is important to treat people the way they want to be treated.

A group of 12 individuals (5 men and 7 women). There are four persons of color in the group.

Diversity Committee at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Successfully diverse companies encourage open lines of communication. It is okay to ask appropriate questions if you do not understand someone’s culture or background. Also, if you offend someone with your words or your actions it is important to apologize and understand how you offended them to avoid doing it again in the future. Having a work environment that will support these conversations is key to inclusion and acceptance. There are very simple and fun ways to celebrate diversity. Establishing a holiday calendar with a wide variety of holidays is a great way for people to learn about other cultures and religions while also getting to know their coworkers. There are even smaller day-to-day activities that can make a big difference. For example, when scheduling a lunch meeting try not to schedule it during a coworker’s religious fasting, or make sure to choose a place with vegetarian options for the coworker that doesn’t eat meat. While these may seem like small examples, they can make a big difference!

What happens if someone feels discriminated against? There needs to be a set process in place to voice these concerns and correct the issue. Oftentimes there is a Diversity Champion in each organization who is there to foster a diverse environment. Human resources and unions are also key players in ensuring a fair and unbiased working environment. It is important for organizations to have a number of resources available to employees so they are able to seek assistance, guidance, and support when needed. There should be a combination of both formal, informal, and anonymous complaint options provided.

As with many company processes, diversity training and initiatives need to be implemented through all three levels of influence. If these initiatives are not introduced through the individual, group, and organizational level, they will not be successful. Creating a goal to ensure a more diverse workplace is just the first step on a long list for developing a diverse company. It is the day-to-day interactions and conversations that will lay the foundation for a diverse company.

PRactice Question

Diversity is everywhere. If you learn to embrace and appreciate it, chances are you will learn more about others and yourself than you ever thought possible!

References

“Enforcement and Litigation Statistics.” US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm.

Reynolds, Katie. “5 Strategies for Promoting Diversity in the Workplace Hult Blog.” Hult Blog. June 26, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2019. https://www.hult.edu/blog/promoting-diversity-in-workplace/.

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