How to Get Started Creating a Diversity Program for the Workplace

Creating and maintaining diversity in the workplace goes well beyond educating your employees on how to work with different groups of people, but having programs that encourage a more cohesive workplace. As a new practitioner it can be hard to foster this type of environment if you’ve never had any experience with creating diversity best practices.

Defining Diversity

Like I said earlier most people have a skewed opinion on not only what diversity is, but how to manage it. According to the University of California at Berkeley managing diversity means:

Planning and implementing organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimized.

So what does this really mean for practitioners? Managing diversity in your workplace will create better cohesion and increase productivity by at least 10% in the workplace. There are numerous benefits when looking at creating diversity programs in the workplace.

The basics of creating a diversity program

So we’ve defined the importance of diversity in the workplace, but how do we actually create a program that’ll have an impact?

Assess the need of a diversity program in the workplace: It’s important that before you start creating any type of diversity program you assess the specific needs of your company. Most companies know they have diversity issues but cannot pinpoint the exact location of the error of their ways.

Make the business case and have a plan: Your key leaders are going to want to understand the business case for having a diversity program. Come up with a gameplan and tell them how it’s going to affect the bottom line. Letting them know that by creating a diversity program their profits and competitiveness will increase.

Set clear expectations and measure progress: It’s important to have a clear expectation when introducing a diversity program in your workforce. What do you want to gain? What is the overall goal of the program? How will you measure the progress of the program? How will negative behaviro be dealt with?

Behavior that is clearly out of line with the expectations of the program should be addressed immediately. Regardless of items included in a performance document employee patterns of disrespectful behavior should be notated and dealt with. Send a clear message about what this program entails and why it’s important that exclusion should not be practiced at work.

A More innovative workforce

When companies choose to have a diverse and inclusive workforce they’re fostering innovation. Bringing together workers with different backgrounds, qualifications, and experience will help your company overcome challenges that company’s face on a daily basis. Those companies who decide to hire one certain type of person already know the type of work that is expected without any type of innovation.

Business should understand that when they introduce a more diverse workforce it’ll affect areas of the business that some might not think of. Having a broader pool of individuals from different backgrounds is going to increase profits and innovation.

Each workplace will have their own diversity issues and will handle them in different ways. Whether you choose to introduce a program in your workplace or you take yearly assessments of how your company is performing in this area it’s important to establish some type of guidelines when hiring, promoting, etc. to be above the fold.

Employees who feel they’ve been discriminated against can easily make a case on employee discrimination and take your company to court if they feel like they’re being treated unfairly for any of a number of reasons.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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