There are many conversations happening around diversity in the workplace. However, I’m finding that few businesses know how to respond in a considerate and meaningful way.
I think the first step is to realize that diversity should not be an afterthought or come in response to someone else posing the question. To be effective, you need to be intentional. Initiate a conversation first to explain why diversity matters and explore what actions your company can take to create a more inclusive and productive workplace.
I've started discussing the benefits of a diverse workplace with my own clients – how, over 25 years ago, I was often the only woman in the boardroom. For some, finding themselves the only female or the only person of color in a room can be intimidating, especially if the overall feel of how the company operates doesn't come across as inclusive. Even if a company's decision-makers hire based on who has the best experience and skills for the job, there may be unintended impacts and unknown biases if diversity is not a thoughtful part of the equation.
Being intentional in creating a diverse workplace can lead to more dynamic teams and encourage the discussion of additional ways to enhance the work environment. A more diverse workplace not only brings value to the current team, it also indicates to potential employees that your company is inclusive and that everyone is welcome. In a highly-competitive job market, employees are paying more attention to their potential work environments and interactions with their current or future coworkers. A diverse corporate culture can make your company much more attractive to top talent.
The public and nonprofit sectors are already proactively building more diverse teams and seeing the benefits of doing so. The private businesses and corporations that I work with are also coming to understand why diversity matters and how it can positively impact their bottom line. So, my best advice? Be intentional and start today!