Earlier this year, President Obama signed an executive order creating an initiative to “promote the federal workplace as a model of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.” While this order applies specifically to the federal government as an employer, it drives home the importance of workplace diversity for all American organizations.
Promoting diversity in the workplace is vital for a number of reasons:
- It helps organizations actively identify and remove barriers to equal opportunities in all aspects of employment, including recruiting, hiring, promoting, retaining and developing professionals.
- It improves workplace cultures and team performance, by helping employees and managers alike to overcome long-held stereotypes and misconceptions.
- It encourages employers to develop and retain diverse, competitive workforces that draw on the talents of all parts of our society.
But while today’s typical workplace may be generally more welcoming and accepting than one of generations past, many employers and workers still struggle with issues of diversity and tolerance. For a variety of reasons, employees still feel excluded from certain occupations – regardless of their qualifications and experience.
The harsh reality? Discrimination on the job occurs every day. Factors such as age, race, gender, sexual preference and religious affiliation still influence recruiting, hiring, promotion and daily interaction in the workplace. The good news is, you have the power to change this reality. In addition to providing diversity training for your employees, use these ideas to help improve and promote diversity in your workplace:
Formalize anti-discrimination policies. Make it clear to all employees that discriminatory hiring, promotion and other practices will not be tolerated. If you haven’t already, formally introduce, implement, enforce and update clear anti-discrimination policies. Countless resources are available online, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Their site provides guidance to help you add anti-discrimination policies to your employee handbook.
Establish responsibility and accountability. Diversity promotion and training usually falls to HR. If no such department exists, create a committee to help implement the policy you develop. Encourage members to continually develop new ideas on how to attract more diversity to your company.
Reach out to local organizations. Take a look at your existing workforce. Does it resemble the communities in which you operate? If not, develop a hiring strategy that allows for greater inclusion and representation. Talk to community leaders from churches, cultural institutions and colleges. Ask them to help you better connect with potential candidates who are under-represented in your workforce.
Ask employees for referrals. Your current staff may have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work. The referring peer can help your new employee more easily adjust to his new work environment, especially if he is part of an under-represented group.
Expand your reach. Appeal to a wider audience by participating in job fairs and career expos. Make available postings more attractive to diverse job hunters by emphasizing details that will attract them.
Offer benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce. Demonstrate your willingness to hire from all segments of the workforce by offering programs such as:
- onsite daycare
- flexible work schedules
- job sharing
- childcare subsidiaries
- religious holiday accommodation
- diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) dress codes
Support new hires. As you develop a more diverse workforce, make sure the new employees you hire feel welcomed and valued. The first few weeks can be challenging for a new employee, so do what you can to help him get acclimated. Pair him with a mentor to help him develop new working relationships, and clearly communicate opportunities for advancement. Show him that he has a future in your company and he’ll be much more likely to stay.
A.R. Mazzotta understands and promotes the value of diversity in the workplace. We are certified by the State of Connecticut Supplier Diversity Program as a Women Owned Small/Minority Business Enterprise. This enables businesses utilizing our services to meet contract supplier diversity requirements as well as build stronger communities. We are also an Affirmative Action-Equal Opportunity Employer, helping all job seekers find rewarding employment opportunities.