How to Improve Workplace Diversity

Blog | Career Tips | Rise and Lead Women | Workplace Leadership
June 8, 2020
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Diversity is good for business.

A McKinsey research study of 366 public companies representing a variety of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States made these two findings.

  • Companies with the most racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have higher financial returns than their national industry medians.
  • Companies that led in the area of gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than their national industry medians.

Research by shows that companies with the highest number of women in their top management positions experience better financial performance than companies with the lowest representation of women. And studies by Deloitte Australia reveal that inclusive teams outperform their counterparts by as much as 80%.

According to PwC’s 2020 Global Survey, 85% of CEOs report that having a diversified and inclusive workplace has improved their bottom line.

Yet, despite this growing body of research, diversity and inclusion are still lacking in many workplaces. What’s worse is that, due to the strains of the COVID-19 shutdown, business leaders may be placing this critical issue further down their list of corporate priorities.

What can you do to improve diversity at your workplace? Here are four key steps.

Fix the Recruitment Process

The term “workplace diversity” initially meant racial and ethnic diversity. However, in recent years, the term has been expanded to include a wider variety of characteristics, including gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, religion, political beliefs, education, social and economic background, geographical orientation, language, cultural background, and military service.

Bias, even when it is subconscious, can find its way into the recruitment process. In her article for Harvard Business Review, Ruchika Tulshyan says we are “biologically hardwired to align with people like us and reject those whom we consider different. Undoing these behaviors requires moving from a fixed mindset — the belief that we’re already doing the best we possibly can to build diverse teams — to one of openness and growth, where we can deeply understand, challenge, and confront our personal biases.”

Inclusive companies find that educating their recruiters on how to recognize and avoid bias is essential to attracting and hiring diverse candidates. Research from Deloitte shows that 68% of companies that lead in the hiring of diverse candidates are investing in technologies to reduce workplace bias.

Change Promotion Procedures

Today, in our globally connected business world, organizations need a diversified workforce to successfully create, present, and sell their goods and services. Building a diverse team can help make us more creative, diligent, and hard-working. However, workplace promotions often can follow the same lines of discrimination as the recruitment process.

In her 2016 TEDx Talk, Kristen Pressner, Global Head of Human Resources for Roche Diagnostics in Basel, Switzerland, admits how she came face to face with her own gender bias against women. She says she developed a “swap out” technique to fight her bias. For instance, she might ask herself if she were to swap a woman candidate who speaks boldly and passionately with a man who speaks the same way, would she have the same reservations?

To fix your hiring and promotion process,

  • Educate your team.
  • Widen your candidate search.
  • Involve diverse people in the hiring and promotion process.

Enhance Your Company Culture

Research published by the online platform Cloverpop shows a link between inclusivity and better business performance. The study, which analyzed about 600 business decisions made by 200 teams representing a range of companies, found that diverse teams outperformed individuals up to 87% of the time.

Workplace diversity not only brings higher financial performance, but it leads to higher employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. These satisfied employees then share about their company with others, helping to attract more diverse talent and a broader range of consumers.

Here’s a checklist for creating an inclusive company culture.

  • Train managers to demonstrate that inclusivity is a core company value.
  • Build an environment where people can feel speaking up.
  • Identify the needs of underrepresented groups and offer support and resources.

Improve Your Brand Presence

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is essential when considering job offers, and 57% of employees think their companies should be more diverse. Workplace diversity improves your company’s reputation.

Therefore, when you showcase your workplace diversity through a strong media presence, you boost your brand, which, in turn, helps you to attract more diverse talent.

You can use social media analytics to track your company’s progress. Real-time data can help you discover who is interacting with your brand and what you can do to broaden your approach.

In an article on LinkedIn about using social media to communicate diversity, Antonio Giugno writes, “Social channels are a reflection of both an organization and its culture. If your channels have diverse communities interacting with content that speaks to them, their cultural background, their life-situation and all of the other things that make a person unique — well, you’ll have made a pretty good case as being one of the most diverse and inclusive employers on the planet.”

Most of us know intuitively that diversity makes us stronger. As we move through these times of economic uncertainty, we need to think of diversity as more than just a buzzword and start making it a reality. The strength of our businesses depends upon it.

Ebere Akadiri

Ebere Akadiri

Ebere Akadiri is an accomplished entrepreneur and an advocate for women in leadership. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.

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