Year-Round Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

March 21, 2019

Coming off the heels of Black History Month and settling into Woman’s History Month, some may see these as appropriate opportunities to celebrate the diversity of their organization. Though applicable and timely, it’s necessary to remember that effective diversity and inclusion (DI) initiatives happen throughout the year, not only during holidays that celebrate individual groups. 

Companies who have incorporated DI into their work culture can attest to the importance of establishing and implementing year-round initiatives. Many of those same companies have seen improvements in their retention rates, productivity and employee engagement. According to a study conducted by Glassdoor, 67 percent of job seekers consider the diversity of an organization before making a decision and over 57 percent of current employees feel that their employer could and should be doing more.  

We caught up with our own Lisa Johnson, 20-year practicing HR professional, to help shed light on how employees and employers can work together to increase their diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace.  

Conduct and Participate in a Company-Wide Confidential Employee Engagement Survey 
Confidential surveys are a great place to start because they allow employees to feel comfortable sharing their honest thoughts and opinions without fear of backlash. An employee’s honest feedback is an invaluable source to leverage, but it should be leveraged effectively. No one is expecting an immediate overhaul of policies and procedures, but there should be the next steps in place to address the concerns your employees may contribute. Start by forming a focus group and talk through the results of the survey to gain clarity, review the specifics and create a formal process for addressing them. As a result, everyone feels heard. 

Establish and Join Employee Resources Groups (ERGs)  
Regardless of your field of work or the size of your organization, chances are there are several affinity groups—or groups of people linked by a common interest—seeking to feel a sense of belonging. ERGs provide a solution by creating a safe space where affinity groups can build relationships and share resources. Because the scope of diversity cuts across so many dimensions, ERGs have a small margin for limitations. Common groups include: generational (e.g. millennials, baby boomers, etc.), LGBTQIA employees, women in the workplace and ethnicity-based groups (e.g., African American, Hispanic, Arab, etc.).  

Develop Recruitment Strategies to Attract Diverse Candidates 
Move beyond the idea that the talent pool is limited to only those who are applying. Ask yourself, “if the diverse candidates aren’t coming to us, how can we reach them?” Connect with your recruiting professional to think through new and innovative ways to source employees. Create a communications strategy to connect with prospective candidates. Find new places to post available positions where different groups may see them; go to local campuses and participate in career fairs. Consider candidates with transferrable skills such as those trained and recently departing the military. Doing thorough research and thinking outside the box are great places to begin. 

Remember, diversity and inclusion goes further than hiring diverse groups of people. It means making sure ALL employees feel welcomed, comfortable and respected while presenting their true authentic selves. Implementing DI plans require an investment of time and thoughtful planning to gain traction. But with the right intention and commitment, it’s entirely possible. 

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