Top Things a Company Can Do to Promote Diversity
by Lisa Magloff
Workplace diversity makes good business sense. Understanding differences between people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds can help companies find ways of appealing to a broader range of customers and employees. To promote diversity in the workplace, companies can take an active role by establishing diversity programs and valuing diversity in all aspects of the business.
Establish Task Forces
To learn how to eliminate discrimination and create a more diverse workforce, you can create diversity task forces within your company, each focusing on a particular area, such as disability, gender, age, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Gather views from employees and formulate ways to make your company more diverse in each area. Task forces can also focus on ways of reaching more diverse customers. For example, at IBM in the late ’90s, a women’s task force developed the idea of providing specialized support to small and medium-sized businesses, which were more likely to be owned by women and minorities. This strategy increased the service revenue by $290 million in just three years.
Create diversity-friendly policies. For example, providing flexible working hours and on-site childcare may make your business a more appealing place for young women and mothers to work. Similarly, allowing employees to take time off for a variety of religious holidays may help you attract a more religiously diverse workforce. Making your office usable by people with a range of disabilities can help attract more talented people. These policies can also help your company find new customers. For example, mothers may prefer to buy from a company whose employment policies are deemed friendly to working moms.
Hiring and Promotion
Incorporate diversity into the hiring and promotion policies of the company. Set standards for hiring and promotion that are based on merit and not quotas. Make sure your policies are transparent, so all employees and potential employees know that promotion is based only on ability and merit. Promote diversity in hiring by creating policies that require equal treatment for everyone, and require all new and existing employees to agree to these policies. Promote your company as diverse in its literature and advertising so all job applicants know your company supports and encourages diversity.
Effective communication is an important part of promoting diversity. Management can help communicate expectations by always using clear language to describe diversity programs and goals. Management should also lay down clear guidelines for disciplining those who engage in activities such as workplace bullying and teasing, which discourage diversity. Managers should be willing to listen to workers who feel their treatment was affected by gender, disability, age, ethnicity or other factors and address their concerns quickly and effectively.
For more information please contact Diversity Enterprises at www.diversityprogram.net or www.juryconsulting.com. Marshall Hennington, Ph.D. can be reached at (646)375-2098, (310) 205-5510 or (305) 914-3769