8 Ways to Jumpstart Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Your Company

Now more than ever before, it’s imperative that the workplace is an environment of support and respect, embracing differences and unique experiences instead of acting in spite of them. There is a lot of evidence and support to back up the idea that a diverse background can do great things for a company’s innovation and business.

With these ideas in mind, it’s clear that organizations and recruiters of organizations should evaluate and focus on diversity and inclusion within their companies in order to have a reputation of diversity and inclusion that candidates will react positively to and gravitate towards when finding the next step in their professional career.

Companies that facilitate diverse and inclusive environments for their employees are bound to not only attract high performing individuals, but also customers who value the ideals of a company they’re supporting through purchase of their product or service. Some best practices include fair treatment, equal access to opportunity, and representation of diversity at all levels of the organization. To help generate conversation and brainstorm ideas, here are 8 ideas that can aid your organization in growing its diversity and inclusion mission.

1. Are Your Core Values Really What Your Company Values?

Your leadership should ask questions like ‘what are our inclusion goals?’, ‘what do our employees think about our diversity and inclusion status right now?’, ‘why do we want to make this change?’. By clarifying the answers to these questions, your organization will be more efficient in taking the necessary steps to invest in the company’s diversity and inclusion agenda. 

Advertising your company’s inclusion goals is an effective way to garner diverse candidates who prioritize forward thinking leadership. Similarly to how companies promote their employee benefits and company awards on their website, it’s a good idea to give just as much real estate to show off your company’s dedication to DE&I.

2. Listen & Learn

Conducting surveys and focus groups within your organization as well as outside is a way to gather real insights about the company’s DE&I practices. Once surveys are conducted, HR or dedicated groups should create a plan of action to address any areas of concern. By sending these surveys out bi-annually or quarterly, the company will not only be cognizant of growing problems related to DE&I, but will also make it known to their employees that they’re dedicated to the cause. More diversity correlates to higher rates of innovation, and innovation is a goal every company should strive for. 

3. Change Starts At The Top

Educating your organization’s leaders and facilitating panel discussions on the company’s viewpoint on current political issues and racial injustice can facilitate a positive and encouraging community. This is another important step to creating an inclusive and open communicative environment for employees and others within the company. Verizon’s “adfellows” program is a great example of a “change action” that stemmed from the company noticing a lack of DE&I in the advertising and marketing industry. By collaborating with diversity and inclusion partners, Verizon created “adfellows” to help promote equal opportunity within the industry through a compensated program and relocation assistance that which the majority of the time leads to a full-time offer and a start of a great career for an individual. 

4. Build Community

Creating communities within the company is a necessary and inclusive way to support your employees and make your company’s workplace even better. Communities based on gender, race, sexuality, and common interests are proven ways of fostering diversity and inclusion within a company.

5. Emphasize an Inclusive Culture

It’s essential to not only work towards improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but to ensure that employees are confident in the company’s efforts. There are many ways that companies can emphasize an inclusive culture, one of which is to provide accommodations to those with physical impairments and religious needs. Diversity does not solely apply to race, but it applies to religion, physical/mental needs, and a variety of other backgrounds. 

Another important way that companies can advance their diversity and inclusion values is to: consistently emphasize a strict zero tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination in the workplace. 

Of course, just about every company discourages such behavior, although oftentimes, an influx of other company responsibilities begin to undermine zero-tolerance policies. To ensure that harassment and discrimmination in the workplace are not simply “swept under the rug”, regular meetings/training should be held with employees. Even with the several priorities companies may have, employee safety and comfort should be at the forefront of the list. After all, happier employees lead to a more successful workplace!

6. Refrain From Requiring Prior Exclusive Education or Experience

Understandably, companies want employees with talent, education, and experience to join their team. However, requiring prior exclusive education or experience for application may not be the most effective way to do so. By having such requirements, companies could significantly limit their qualified applicant pool: Some talented individuals of less-privileged backgrounds may not have had the opportunity to attend a top program due to its costly tuition. Similarly, many applicants may not have had the resources to own expensive hardware or software tools.

7. Avoid Having Quotas When Hiring

Although hiring quotas are put in place in order to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it may have unintended effects on some employees. Those who are hired to meet these quotes, regardless of their qualifications, could feel as if they are undeserving of the job. They may feel that they don’t belong in the workplace, and that they are merely a statistic rather than a valuable addition to the team.

Hiring quotas may also impact the way that these employees are viewed by their peers: Others may, subconsciously, believe that they lack the qualifications and experience that is necessary for the job.

That being said, it may be beneficial for companies to focus on applicants’ skill sets through a blind resume review. In other words, recruiters could remove all forms of identification such as name, race, gender, and age. This will serve to reduce implicit biases when hiring, eliminating the need for quotas. Through a blind resume review, recruiters can hire individuals of diverse backgrounds solely based on their qualifications rather than company hiring quotas.

8. Hold Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are a great way to capture how employees truly feel within the workplace. Employees choose to leave a company for a variety of reasons, including an availability of a better financial opportunity, dissatisfaction within the workplace, etc. Regardless, it’s crucial to understand why these employees choose to leave, as companies can use their feedback to improve the work environment for all individuals. In addition, it may be helpful to ask for suggestions/recommendations during exit interviews in order to ensure the most inclusive environment possible.

It’s apparent that diversity and inclusion in the workplace foster a multitude of benefits for companies, carving a path for success. Concerned that your company should improve diversity and inclusion? Don’t worry! With any of the eight tips described above, your company can move one step closer to having a work environment that everyone can call home. Stay tuned for more to come on diversity and inclusion from Relish, as these additional tips may be just as valuable for the success of your company!

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