No matter if your company is small, large, meeting in-person or remotely deployed, your organization’s policies and positions towards diversity and inclusion can deeply affect your workforce. Improving these policies and truly embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace can have positive benefits that ripple out from a single affected employee to a broader reach in improved global reputation. Here are just a few benefits that you can see from promoting these kinds of policies in your company.
1. Improve diversity beyond the first glance
Your workplace may seem to include people of many cultures and communities, which is great, but how far does your diversity go? Diversity is about bringing many voices to the table, no matter the conversation. How does your organization measure up when you look at how management or C-Suite positions are filled? How does your workforce look when you look at a diversity of genders, backgrounds, or ages? Could you promote policies that hire without bias internally, and others that work with existing employees to improve diverse promotions and mentoring opportunities.
2. Improve recruitment and reputation management
Do you make your diversity and inclusion policies well known? You might be missing out on an opportunity to attract a workforce that wants to work somewhere that matches their ideals.
“When considering employment, 67% of job seekers deem workplace diversity as an important factor in their decision process, especially for millennials who make up the majority of the workforce,” writes Ashley Stahl at Forbes. “According to a Deloitte survey, 75% of millennials believe an organization is more innovative when it fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion, and are thus more likely to leave if the company doesn’t meet their standards of diversity. If you want strong talent, you need diversity.”
3. Promote broader perspectives and ideas inside your organization
Every manager wants their team to “think outside the box” but when that group has the same background, the same outlook, and the same ideas, then outside that box is harder to find. Instead, a workplace filled with people of different backgrounds and perspectives can come together to innovate. Not only do you need a diverse group at your brainstorming table, but they also need an environment where their ideas (and yes, even disagreements) are met with a welcoming reception.
“Feelings of inclusion give all people the confidence to openly express their ideas, increasing the likelihood that they will voice unique ideas that can improve the business,” notes Russ Banham at Risk Management Magazine. “Inclusion also fosters higher employee engagement, productivity and company loyalty, resulting in higher retention rates.”
And when traditionally underrepresented groups feel like they have a voice in their jobs, they’re also likely to recommend the company to others who would make good hires and would appreciate the open, receptive environment. This can help further fuel good recruiting efforts of a diverse group of employees who all want to work to promote those ideals at work.
4. Diversity and inclusion is good policy and good business
The hard reality of workplaces that fail to promote diversity can find themselves in serious trouble. A non-inclusive workplace can look like one that deals with cases of harassment, discrimination and other potentially litigious situations.
“Lack of inclusion is a high-risk situation,” notes attorney Kirstin Story in Risk Management Magazine. “Right or wrong, if someone from a protected class has a perception that their opportunities in the workplace were limited as a result of their race, religion, national origin, gender, and so on, they have a good cause of action and will sue.”
It’s important to not only have strong inclusion and diversity policies on paper in an employee handbook, but to train all employees, from existing managers to new hires, on how to live up to your company’s ideals. This help to set the standard in your company.
5. Add dedicated staff to keep you on target
Your company’s diversity and non-discrimination policies should include clear steps for addressing issues, correcting behaviors, and listening to new ideas on policy shifts that may be needed. Language in your policies should avoid being (or appearing to be) superficial or lacking the ability to make any change. Again, employee feedback and influence can help while you’re crafting or revising policies, especially when those employees come from diverse backgrounds themselves.
You can also get help on a permanent basis by hiring a diversity manager to help steer policies in a dedicated position (or a team of positions).
“This diversity manager will be responsible for creating, recognizing, and implementing actions to promote and encourage diversity within the organization,” suggests Stahl. “Companies that have diversity managers report seeing 7-18% more diversity in management within five years, making them 87% better at making decisions, have higher profits, and a 19% increase in revenue.”