Lisa Bonner | ,| By
Workplace diversity is good for business and gives companies a distinct advantage. A Forbes survey of 300+ large global enterprises (>$500 million in annual revenue) revealed that 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace.
Understanding and Managing Workplace Diversity
Diversity is not just about race, gender or sexual orientation. It encompasses a wide variety of other differences, including work experience, parental status, educational background, disabilities, age, geographic location, military status and much more. Workplace diversity is about learning from others who are not the same, about dignity and respect, and about creating workplace environments and practices that encourage learning and unleashing the full potential of all.
Employee Population Should Mirror Customer Demographic
Census data indicates that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the U.S. Further, between 2000 and 2050 new immigrants and their children will account for 83 percent of the growth in the working-age population. Does your workforce mirror your customer base or resemble the communities that you operate in? Business growth will depend upon meeting the needs of changing demographics and diverse communities of workers as well as consumers. Are you engaging your diverse customers as well as candidates and employees using online tools and technologies like mobile recruiting?
Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom line benefits. Here are a few tips:
- Refine Your Talent Strategy with Diversity Recruiting by expanding efforts to recruit and retain diverse applicants. All employees should understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate and not by quotas. Solicit beyond your immediate geographic area and leverage your presence in the local communities to cultivate a talent pool. Improve retention of top talent through mentoring programs and offering opportunities on enterprise initiatives to garner cross-functional experience and exposure. Diversity recruiting is a great way to help expand your employee demographic.
- Leverage Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to deliver recruitment & retention, engagement, professional development, and marketplace solutions. Over the last 10 years, ERGs have evolved from being social networks or affinity groups to goal-oriented drivers of innovative solutions. ERGs are found in 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Many companies leverage ERG talents to create go-to market campaigns that capture cultural nuances of targeted demographics. In addition, partner with ERG members to help new employees to adjust to the workplace culture as well as in their new communities.
- Integrate diversity into operational systems & practices and align measurements and incentives to reward behaviors that support diversity initiatives. Diversity is threaded through every aspect of management. Senior management must publicly commit and financially support D&I efforts as well as ensure that employees on all levels can safely provide input. Managers need to “walk their talk” in hiring, giving teams assignments for different tasks, rotating roles to from time-to-time and allow different people to have a leadership opportunity to see strengths and weaknesses.
Impact Your Return on Investment and Bottom Line
I firmly believe that diversity breeds a more creative, innovative, and productive workforce. Recognizing and respecting the talents and contributions of all employees increases morale and maximizes retention and productivity, critical factors that impact your bottom line and grow your return on investment. What are you doing to improve diversity in your companies? How have diverse perspectives improved creativity? What are you doing differently? I look forward to your comments.