Numerous studies have shown that a diverse workforce can have a positive effect on the bottom line. But building and maintaining that workforce is more than just hiring people of color and from different backgrounds. Unless you follow through with equity and inclusion once they’re on board, your commitment to diversity is just lip service.
So how do you create a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion? It needs to be a concerted effort – starting at the leadership and systems level – that considers all activities – hiring, promoting, communications, company gatherings, development, team assignments, terminations, etc. – through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Here are some tips.
Regularly confirm your commitment to diversity and inclusion by ensuring that teams, projects, promotions, development, and other opportunities are open to the broader definition of diverse individuals – gender, ethnicity, points of view, sexual orientation, etc.
Encourage conversation to promote understanding. Consider organizing group conversations of diverse employees where participants share their different perspectives and experiences. Hearing personal stories about the impact of exclusion can be powerful in creating empathy and understanding.
Build awareness around microaggressions. Often, seemingly innocuous statements or questions can make others feel uncomfortable. “Where are you from originally?” “Wow! You are so well-spoken.” “You’re strong for a girl.” Statements and questions that subtly imply assumptions based on gender or race do not promote inclusion.
Implement a mentoring program. Match peers one-on-one or in mentoring circles to provide a safe place to talk about challenges. Or consider creating affinity groups. A workplace affinity group is a group of employees with similar backgrounds, characteristics, or life experiences, such as: women, people of color, or Veterans. The purpose of an affinity group is to provide diverse populations within an organization the opportunity to share ideas and experiences.
Learn more about the small steps you can take every day to implement a culture where everyone feels valued, heard, and included in this podcast from my amazing colleague, Lisa Duerre, CEO of RLD Group.
Building a culture of diversity and inclusion takes time and effort. It’s about changing mindsets and creating an environment that allows all to feel welcome and to thrive. It begins with you, as the leader, leading the way.
If you need help incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into your culture, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.