You may have heard that diversity in the workplace is a good thing—but more than nodding your head, have you considered why it’s an essential part of your overall growth strategy? Take a look at these facts from our article on embracing diversity:
- Diversity drives sales. In order to be successful in the constantly changing consumer demographics, companies not only need to provide quality service to their customer base, but they need to connect with their customers as well. Building a workforce that represents the diverse ethnicities, genders, ages, etc., allows a company to better connect with its target markets.
- Diversity hires talent. Another way to put this? A diverse workforce helps you find the best people for your company. Why hire someone because you “like” them? Focus on skills, competencies and experience to find someone who is truly qualified for the job. While you’re at it, evaluate your preconceived notions, and you’ll see how you’ve been narrowing your talent search all along.
- Diversity creates healthy conflict. Managers and small business owners may hesitate to hire a candidate considered different than themselves or the rest of the staff because conflict may arise. But consider this—new innovative ideas rarely emerge from comfort zones.
Here are some things managers can do to embrace diversity in the workplace:
- Refuse to accept any form of bullying or discrimination within your organization. In our article, Zero tolerance for bullies in the workplace, we discuss what bullying behaviors are and the steps managers and leaders can take to prevent this damaging behavior.
- Be a role model for embracing diversity in your organization. “In order to foster inclusion in their teams, managers must first understand diversity and inclusion. Think of diversity in its broader sense, moving beyond strictly ethnicity and race to include differences in age, sexual orientation, military status, and other groupings. Inclusion is about being open to perspectives different from your own and realizing that everyone’s voice is important, says Ricketts. You can set a good example by valuing each individual’s opinions and making everyone feel comfortable sharing their points of view.” (Cornell University)
- Identify how diversity can help your organization improve and reach its strategic goals, and then be sure to share your results with your whole team. In the same article from Cornell University, I loved the line “What gets measured is what gets done (…) Successful companies hold their leaders accountable to move the diversity inclusion agenda forward.” Make sure you’re turning your diversity goals into concrete, actionable steps and then measuring the results in order to truly improve your organization.
- Make sure you’re giving all employees a chance to openly and honestly tell you how they really feel about working at your organization. Employee surveys, one-on-one interviews for direct feedback, and regular employee communication are three methods you can use to ensure you’re providing a healthy environment for all of your employees (and also make changes to improve a less-than-stellar situation if necessary).
There’s an almost endless list of steps managers and leaders can take to embrace diversity in the workplace. What have you done that’s worked well at your organization? We’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.