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Cultivating a Diverse Workforce: What You Need to Know

5 min read
diverse workforce

Diversifying your workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Having a variety of perspectives makes your workforce more creative, agile, and informed. Made up of people of different ages, races, genders, and cultural backgrounds, a diverse workforce is key to boosting innovation and employee satisfaction.

Diversity in the workplace is important not only to build the strongest team possible but also to protect the brand’s reputation. Organizations that allow biases to get the best of them won’t survive in today’s consumer activist culture.

In this post, we’ll discuss diverse workforce advantages and disadvantages (spoiler: there are no disadvantages) and the diverse workforce meaning for your business.

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Diverse Workforce Benefits

The benefits of diversity in the workplace can be seen in almost every aspect of your business. If you weren’t already on board, the key diverse workplace benefits below should show you the wisdom of diversity.

Increase innovation.

A 2017 Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study found that diversity was key for innovation. Unusual pairings of people lead to unusual pairings of ideas. Professionals from different backgrounds can offer uniquely intersectional solutions to any problem. Further, diverse teams are also more productive.

Boost sales and revenue.

A Harvard Business Review study of venture capitalist professionals showed that diversity also improves performance, creating success in an uncertain environment. This is because a diverse workforce is better equipped to meet challenges with the wisdom earned through many different life experiences.

Attract and retain talent.

People want to work to be part of an organization that is on the cutting edge. Businesses committed to building and promoting diversity will be more attractive to different candidates. These businesses are seen as more innovative, socially responsible organizations that workers are excited to be a part of.

Empower employees. 

Your workplace culture should certainly make all workers feel welcome. Inclusive policies make employees feel valued for their unique perspectives and empower them to do their best work.

So, the question is: Are there any disadvantages of diversity in the workplace? Not as far as we can tell.

Be Aware of Unconscious Bias

Even the best-intentioned hiring team suffers from unconscious bias. These are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that we don’t even know we have. Unconscious bias is more subtle than conscious prejudice and therefore more prevalent.

When we allow unconscious bias to shape our decisions, the result is a one-note workforce. For example, a McKinsey’s 2020 study found that women remain “dramatically underrepresented” in the corporate sphere. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 19.3% of Americans with a disability were employed. In order to reap diverse workplace benefits, businesses must incorporate these voices and perspectives. To support workers of diverse backgrounds, HR must work hard to address unconscious biases that may be present in hiring and management practices.

Start Strong with Diverse Hiring

To increase workplace diversity, businesses need to start actively building diversity initiatives into their recruitment process. There is some groundwork that needs to be done in order to hire consciously and thoughtfully.

Understand what constitutes diversity.

Diversity can take many forms. That is to say, people from different backgrounds may well differ in their worldviews, decision-making processes, and life experiences. Having a variety of backgrounds in terms of culture, race, gender, religion, age, and physical and cognitive abilities make a workforce more effective.

Recognize your own biases.

In order to improve your hiring practices, you must first take stock of the current pipeline. Conduct a hiring audit to identify bottlenecks and discrepancies. What are your diversity hiring strengths? Where is your team failing to be inclusive? If your hiring team is not diverse to begin with, they may be more susceptible to unconscious biases.

Measure diversity goals annually or quarterly.

Don’t just aim to “do better.” Instead, make a plan for what, exactly, “better” looks like using concrete metrics to measure improvement. For example, Google’s Annual Diversity Report emphasizes how they used data to hire and retain more Black and Latino workers, scaling their efforts as the company grows. Set reasonable goals and milestones for success.

diverse workforce

Tips for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce

A diverse workforce doesn’t just appear overnight. Instead, through the careful implementation of specific policies, your HR team can promote diversity little by little. Our tips will make sure your hiring practices give everyone an equal chance from start to finish.

Start with diverse hiring teams.

Diverse talent will have a better idea of how to hire diverse talent. Team members from many different backgrounds can also help to shore up each other’s blind spots and unconscious biases. They can also speak directly to the questions and concerns of diverse candidates and make sure that the organization in question doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk.

Create inclusive job descriptions.

In order to attract diverse candidates, make sure to use inclusive language in your job descriptions. Stay away from language that might be subtly associated with a certain gender, group, or class. Offer non-ableist options, such as video interviewing for those candidates that may not be able to physically attend interviews. Further, make sure you showcase diversity on your career site and in your marketing materials. This will help you to tap into diverse talent pools.

Go for a culture “add” versus “fit.”

The goal isn’t to find someone who is the same as the rest of the staff. Instead, try to find candidates who can fill in the gaps in the staff and add a missing perspective. When you are deliberate about diversity, your team will grow organically as holes in representation become clear.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity practices don’t stop with hiring. In order to maintain a diverse workforce, organizations must make employees of different backgrounds feel supported with inclusive policies. As D’Mar Phillips, Vice President of Global People Services at Clarus, points out, diversity, inclusion, and performance go hand-in-hand.

In an inclusive culture, all employees are more likely to treat each other with respect and value for their unique strengths. Diversity-focused hiring might help get employees with different perspectives through the door, but inclusive policies are what help them to perform at their best.

Diverse Workforce Management

Managing a diverse workforce requires strong leadership, well-designed policies, and above all, a lot of empathy. Here are three ways to make sure all employees feel included.

Communicate clearly.

The company’s stance on diversity certainly shouldn’t be a secret! Make standards and expectations clear from the beginning. Communicate about strengths and shortcomings, and room for improvement.

Enforce a zero-tolerance policy.

Let employees know you are serious with serious diversity policies. That is to say, discriminatory practices should be met with immediate consequences. This shows employees from minority backgrounds that their rights and needs are respected and valued.

Invest in training.

Supporting a diverse workforce may mean it’s time to invest in training to help all employees uncover and overcome their unconscious biases. Help HR staff to bring a more objective lens to their hiring practices. Give managers training to help them support workers of diverse talents. In short: Give everyone the tools they need to contribute towards an inclusive work culture.

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