As the nation’s demographics become more diverse, corporations must generate an inclusive culture of workers representing all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, national origins, ages and even disabilities. Business and human resource managers usually understand the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce, including access to more talent and the innovation resulting from collaborations between people of diverse backgrounds. Still, they often stop short of the goal.
An inclusive corporate culture reflects the community and strives to make everyone feel equally welcome, with the same opportunities to contribute skills, grow work relationships and advance a career. An inclusive culture maximizes success and enjoyment and minimizes the possibility of discrimination liability.
With many corporations, progress is proving elusive. In recent studies cited by HBR, 59% of Latin men and women experienced snubs in the workplace, and 46% of black women thought their ideas were not heard or recognized.
Techniques for Inclusion
Six easy-to-implement ideas can help your organization improve its attractiveness to diverse candidates:
- Attract diversity. Employees will feel outside the culture if the workforce does not match the community’s demographics. Attract diverse candidates through continuous networking and interviewing. Use social media platforms and career websites (LinkedIn, Glassdoor) to showcase your diversity through testimonials and videos. Promote referrals from diverse candidates. Use outreach through your employees in their communities and with organizations that work with under-represented groups; this can be indispensable in searches for qualified candidates. Conduct annual audits of your diversity hiring practices. All things being equal, courts tend to uphold hiring decisions that promote diversity.
- Overcome the location problem. Because many communities are still segregated, company locations tend to favor hiring within proximity. But resist the temptation to hire candidates with the shortest commute if this interferes with promoting diversity; instead, offer flexible work-from-home arrangements that help workers avoid peak traffic.
- Form an inclusion council, policies and metrics for tracking progress. This council could determine goals for hiring, retaining and advancing a diverse workforce and improving engagement among under-represented groups. Key initiatives should include creating a safe space for employees to voice concerns and providing awareness and bias training for all employees. The council should meet regularly to troubleshoot problems and gauge movement toward objectives. The council should regularly meet with top leaders so they remain aware of issues and accountable for making inclusivity a core value.
- Provide cultural awareness and anti-bias training. Even well-intentioned managers can make mistakes that marginalize individuals. De-biasing helps managers control their inclinations to favor subordinates who are like themselves or to commit subtle errors that alienate workers.
- Build inclusion into sponsor and mentor programs. Mentorship facilitates individual career advancement while hiring from within and sponsorship go beyond to provide advocacy. These programs build bridges, leading to a more integrated workforce, one where individuals learn through professional relationships to appreciate the richness of working in a diverse environment. Women of color with sponsors are 81% more likely to be satisfied with their career progression than those without sponsors.
- Celebrate diversity. Managers should invite employees to open up about their cultures and share stories, music and cuisine in informal get-togethers. Potluck lunches can be a great way to make inclusiveness enjoyable for all employees and remind them that it’s a corporate value at this
As you and your organization implement these methods, keep data on their effect. The more you learn about what works and what does not, the quicker you will attain your diversity and inclusion goals.
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