Human Resources

Steps Toward Improving Workplace Diversity

By Bridget Miller

Workplace diversity can be beneficial to organizations, but many businesses still struggle with it. Guest columnist Bridget Miller has eight ways that employers can improve diversity in the workplace in today’s Advisor.

Diversity can benefit the employer in many ways. Having a diverse group of employees helps to ensure that there will be a wide spectrum of ideas, backgrounds, and skill sets that can help the organization to have more innovative ideas and less likelihood of tunnel vision that comes from not having enough differing perspectives.

Here are eight ways to improve the diversity levels in your workplace and get more of the benefits that come from having a diverse workforce:

  1. Measure it. Ever heard the business advice of “what gets measured gets done”? While of course measuring alone isn’t enough, it’s often true that whatever gets team focus—such as items measured in quarterly reports or in executive key performance indicators (KPIs)—does get more time and attention. By measuring the organization’s diversity and looking at it objectively, it helps to improve the overall diversity levels by putting more focus on the actions required to improve them.
  2. Remember that diversity is about more than race. Diversity means having a workforce composed of many different types of people. Different race is just one example. Different religious backgrounds, different genders, different nationalities, and differing physical abilities are more diversity options.
  3. Recruit over a broader geographic area. By expanding the geographic scope of your recruiting, you’ll reach more potential candidates.
  4. Focus on retention. Many organizations find they’re able to attract a diverse set of applicants, but over time, the organizational culture remains homogeneous due to a higher turnover rate for some groups. Focus on retention efforts if this is a trend in your organization.
  5. Pay attention to organizational culture. Does your culture promote inclusiveness? There may be pervasive attitudes and actions that end up dividing the workforce, making some groups feel unwelcome. These will need to be addressed to maintain diversity in the workforce. Consider utilizing employee surveys to gauge how employees feel on these topics as a means to discover issues before these issues cause employees to leave.
  6. Consider providing diversity training. This can help the organization to be more inclusive overall, which can assist in retention efforts. It can help people understand the benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which in turn helps to create a more welcoming environment.
  7. Don’t forget to foster diversity at all levels, not just in hiring. If the workplace culture is not diverse at the upper levels, there will be less of a chance of retaining diversity in general. If all employees don’t see they have an opportunity to achieve their personal goals, they may be more likely to leave.
  8. Consider providing more flexibility in your work schedule, which can help to attract a broader pool of candidates. For example, consider whether any jobs could be completed via telecommuting or whether you can offer benefits that help people back to the workforce while still taking care of their family, such as flexible work schedules or on-site child care.

 

What have your experiences with increasing diversity been like? What methods have you found to work best to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce?