Over the past few decades, the United States – and the world at large – have seen an inspiring transformation towards embracing diversity. People are learning to trust and celebrate people of all races and ethnicities, nationalities, religions, genders, sexualities, ages, and more. How has this affected the workplace? How can inviting diversity improve your company and the role you play in it?
Why Diversity Leads to Better Performance
There has been plenty of research lately about how diverse teams change the way a company performs. Across multiple studies set in different countries, the consensus is clear: Diverse teams make better decisions, are more innovative, and are more likely to have above-average profitability.
Why do diverse teams lead to such exceptional results? One reason is that they bring varied perspectives and experiences to the table. Team members are more likely to have ideas that differ from their colleagues’ ideas, and if they’re encouraged to share them, that leads to better choices made by the team. Furthermore, diverse teams tend to look at data more closely, thus increasing their precision and accuracy.
Homogeneous groups can feel too comfortable, often going with the flow instead of thinking more critically. Although homogeneous groups tend to be more confident in their work, it is the diverse teams that perform the best.
How to Invite Diversity into Your Workplace
It’s clear that a more varied team can only improve your company. So how do you attract a diverse team?
Start with how you hire. Make sure your job listings aren’t inadvertently biased. Use only gender-neutral pronouns, and avoid lingo that mainly appeals to certain in-groups (for example, sports metaphors). Otherwise, you may be sending messages about the kind of candidate you’re looking for. Make sure your job listings clearly communicate your commitment to diversity.
Recruiters and hiring managers must also work to eliminate any unconscious bias. Knowing the name of a job candidate can result in a biased appraisal of their resume, so make sure names are blacked out before reviewing application materials. Using blind recruitment can help.
Another way to make sure diverse candidates want to work at your company is to show that the organization is already diverse. Make sure candidates are meeting with diverse employees and managers. Not only will this appeal to the candidates, the current diverse professionals will also hold valuable opinions of those they interview.
Job seekers will also want to know about company guidelines, so be prepared to show that they are inclusive. You’ll want to offer flexibility to observe various religious holidays, LGBTQ-friendly policies, and more. Show that your policies will work for them and protect them from discrimination.
Consider choosing candidates not based on their “culture fit,” but rather on their “culture add.” Look for candidates who bring something new to your company rather than simply fitting in with your current team. This will encourage hiring more diverse candidates.
Finally, ask minority employees for referrals. They likely know qualified job-seekers who can add to your team’s diversity.
How to Foster Diversity & Inclusion at Work
Once you have a diverse team, it’s important to maintain a culture of inclusion among all employees. You may want to hold diversity training within your company. This will allow employees of all identities and backgrounds to better understand each other and work with one another.
Your company may want to take part in events and holidays that celebrate diverse identities. For example, Gay Pride in June and Black History Month in February can be great opportunities to involve employees in a meaningful thing. Check out this 2019 diversity calendar so you can plan ahead.
Take the next step by encouraging group activities outside of work. These events can be held at different locations and involve different cultural activities. Participating in these after-work events will give everyone a relaxed environment to get to know each other and enrich their lives.
Last but not least, don’t tolerate bigotry or disrespect of any kind. Any employees who are discriminatory or rude due to another’s identity must be corrected. Such behavior must be strictly prohibited, and if it does not improve immediately, it should be punishable by termination.
When Diverse Teams Work Together, They Lead in the Workplace
It’s vital that your company invites and fosters diversity. By creating an inclusive company culture and encouraging different voices to be heard, your team and company will see improvements in decision-making, innovation, and profit.
Inviting diversity starts with the recruiting and hiring process. If your job listings are unbiased, blind recruitment is utilized, and the company shows its commitment both through policy and through practice, you’ll be on the right track to hiring more diverse team members. Remember, hire based on culture add, not fit! Streamline the process by getting referrals from current employees.
From there, improve your company culture to feel more inclusive. Diversity training, celebration of holidays, and arranging after-hours company events can all go a long way towards making your organization inclusive. But when employees do slip up, don’t tolerate it.
Following these steps will create a company culture that is diverse and inclusive. It will also be an organization that sees better results. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Amanda Whitbeck is Vice President of Operations at Petite2Queen. Since earning her master’s degree in Global Entertainment & Music Business from Berklee College of Music, Amanda has played key roles facilitating growth at start-ups. She’s also worked in diverse sectors of the music industry, from live events promotion to entertainment journalism. She brings her expertise in music business, writing, and website development to Petite2Queen.