by Charlotte Gurney
Businesses that invest in a diverse workforce reap the rewards when it comes to innovation and performance. One piece of research identified that a more diverse workforce generates increased profitability and value creation. If a business is also diverse at executive level it is 33% more likely to see above average performance, study carried out by a leading management consultancy firm at the time. So, there are many reasons to advance diverse talent across your organization but how do you achieve this?
1. Design the workplace culture around belonging. Creating an environment in which everyone feels accepted as themselves can take time but is worth it in terms of engagement and creativity. For most organizations generating a sense of belonging will be a case of trial and error to find initiatives and ideas that work.
2. Ensure top-down buy in. Empathy is crucial here, encouraging staff and executives at all levels to get behind the idea of a culture of belonging by remembering moments in their own life when they were left out, shamed, ignored etc. It’s only when people really feel what it’s like to not belong that they will get behind ensuring this doesn't happen to others.
3. Make a more diverse workforce relevant for all those who work within it. Make sure every employee understands the role they have to play in making the workplace more diverse and how this could change their experience - and the experiences of others.
4. Embed inclusivity internally. It’s not just about setting diversity targets and quotas but embedding a more diverse attitude in every part of the business, from recruitment to team building, mentoring to performance reviews, decision making and how the business deals with successes and failure. Do culture and infrastructure create opportunities for everyone to make their own unique contribution?
5. The habits of diversity and inclusion. A one-off training session is unlikely to have much impact when it comes to creating a more diverse workforce. What’s required instead is a generous distribution of information that will help to create a shift in habits and micro behaviors that will drive change.
6. Focus on the possibilities. Change in the workplace can often be met with resistance and fear, especially if all you’re talking about is where improvements need to be made. So, combine this with a focus on the possibilities that a more diverse workforce creates for everyone - get people excited at the positive change that this could bring.
7. Throw away the idea that people have to fit in. Define organizational values, mission and purpose and then build a culture around them that means everyone can contribute fully in their own unique way without having to be like anyone else. Less homogenous workforces are more creative, innovative and profitable.
8. Don’t forget to bring your brand online. It’s essential that the way you’re projecting your business into the outside world aligns with changes being made internally, not just to attract a wider range of people but also to show the world what your business’ priorities are.
Ambitious organizations today need to focus on diversity inclusion, not as a tick box initiative but a way to improve the bottom line. This includes making the workplace a more welcoming environment for people with disabilities. Technology provides many more opportunities for anyone with a disability to contribute in the workplace - and to get more from a career search.