How to Use Diversity and Inclusion as a Business Strategy
Today, the idea of the modern workplace centers around the importance of diversity and inclusion. Enterprises are often described as diverse cultural melting pots. In theory, we should focus on one’s knowledge and the benefits they bring to your organization and not on their nationality, skin color, gender, cultural background, or sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, in practice, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. The implementation of D&I strategies into the traditional workplace environments is still flawed, affecting the overall corporate culture and the employee morale.
It is the responsibility of both business owners and their HR specialists to understand how important inclusion is in building a unique workplace DNA and design diversity policies that address their workplace demands.
Diversity and Inclusion as a Business Strategy
Here are a few critical points you need to keep in mind when using diversity as your new business strategy.
Choose the initiatives that work for your business
There are numerous methods of integrating diversity into a business strategy. They could be focused on improving gender diversity, hiring people with different backgrounds, or giving differently-abled people the opportunity to do the jobs they like. Of course, not all these initiatives would work for your business.
Depending on your business processes, your clients, and the skills and abilities required to perform certain tasks, you need to choose those diversity strategies that make sense. For example, one of the most powerful ways to boost your company’s cultural diversity it to offer valuable internship programs that will attract young people. This tactic will let you build highly diverse teams of ambitious people who are ready to improve their skills and knowledge and, at the same time, absorb your company’s core values.
Invest in empathetic leadership and employee training
This is probably the most significant aspect of implementing D&I strategy. Namely, AHRI did a research in 2014 and proved that, sometimes, even Australian business leaders weren’t fully supportive of workplace diversity. And, if you don’t appreciate your workers’ individuality and differences, how can you expect them to welcome your new D&I initiative?
Lead by example by changing yourself first. Put yourself in those people’s shoes, try to remember just one moment when you felt excluded or shamed, and understand the prejudice, stereotypes, and problems your employees may be facing every day.
By managing your employees empathetically, you will show them how important it is to understand and appreciate their coworkers’ differences. You could even set up a diversity training program for your employees. Provide them with the skills and information needed to implement the ideas of inclusion and mutual understanding in their daily lives. This strategy will allow you to make diversity a way of life at your company, integrating it uninterruptedly across your sectors and teams.
Make diversity a long-term goal
Diversity and inclusion cannot be done overnight. You need to build your D&I strategy gradually and start implementing it months before recruiting the people from different backgrounds. This will give you enough time to educate your current staff members about the importance of workplace diversity and sensitize them to the changes you’re planning to make.
Most importantly, you will be able to plan everything in advance and make your new employees valued. For example, if you’re going to hire a physically disabled person, you should first invest in disability employment services to find the employee that is the right fit for your team. Second, you need to adapt the office to their needs so they can perform their day-to-day tasks uninterruptedly.
The main goal of implementing the D&I strategy is to make your employees happier. The 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report by LinkedIn backs me up on this, claiming that
“Belonging is the feeling of psychological safety that allows employees to be their best selves at work. Even at the most diverse of companies, employees will disengage and leave if they don’t feel included and accepted.”
Spread the idea of diversity across all departments
Investing in the D&I strategy isn’t limited to the HR team and the process of hiring. On the contrary, it needs to be truly accepted by all your team members and implemented company-wide. Start by including different diversity initiatives into your company’s marketing and branding efforts, customer relationship programs, public relations, as well as your company’s operative methods. Most importantly, don’t use diversity programs for the “cosmetic” purposes of your company, to show how generous you are. Instead, cherry-pick those D&I initiatives that resonate with both your employees, stakeholders, and your target audience. This way, you will see the true value of this approach and start generating a higher revenue.
Wrapping it up
The implementation of diversity and inclusion may benefit your company in multiple ways. First, people with the diverse skills, backgrounds, personalities, and capabilities will generate innovative business ideas and boost the overall workplace productivity. Second, you can attract, hire, and retain top talent and grow your company faster. Most importantly, you will create a vibrant corporate culture and be able to understand the needs and expectations of different groups of customers.
You just need to know how to implement your D&I initiative strategically and I hope these tips will help!
What strategies do you use to diversify your staff? We would love to hear from you!
This article on diversity and inclusion as a business strategy was provided by Lauren Wiseman. Lauren is marketing specialist, contributor to bizzmarkblog.com and entrepreneur. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in fast-changing and demanding market, strongly believing in a holistic approach to business.