Designing a diverse workplace

Diversity in the workplace has become mandatory. Companies comprised of various backgrounds and experiences benefit from a greater range of perspectives, ideas, and feedback. These versatile businesses are evidently outpacing their more narrow-minded counterparts. Make sure your organization is benefiting from this fundamental practice.

What does it mean to be “diverse” in the business world?

Your company’s diversity is measured by its spectrum of generations, mix of cultural perspectives, and plethora of schools of thought, or even degrees of thought leadership. Likewise, diversity is assessed by the sum of employees’ ages, genders, cultures, abilities, sexualities, ethnicities, and points-of-view. And, perhaps most importantly, diversity also considers how these varying identifiers populate your organization’s leadership team.Organizations that are effective in managing diversity and bringing it to life tend to outperform non-diverse companies by 35%. Businesses in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnicity/race are statistically less likely to achieve above average financial returns. Thus, managing diversity is not just the right thing to do, but often pushes companies toward greater success.

The Benefits of Diversity

Innovation and performance flourishes in effective diversity management. For instance, allowing different perspectives to mingle spurs the creation of new ideas that wouldn't be possible without the presence of diversity of thought. This innovation leads to more creative strategies and additional solutions to complex problems.[caption id="attachment_2788" align="alignright" width="300"]

Employees with diverse ideas

Research shows that teams outperform individual decision makers 66% of the time, and diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. We also know that decision making effectiveness is 95% correlated to financial success, so diversity = success.Leaders' ability to manage diversity and differences in teams in a way that is meaningful to both employees and customers decides whether these implications are drivers or drainers to your organization’s profitability.

How to Reshape Your Workplace

Managing diversity in an organization has proven challenging across industries. According to the Harvard Business Review, most workplace diversity programs fail to produce meaningful diversity and inclusion. However, not all hope is lost! Managing Diversity requires purposeful actions and we have a few tips to get you started off on the right foot:

  • Evolve hiring processes.
  • Involve multiple leaders in the hiring process to get multi-perspective feedback on candidates. This process will also allow potential hires to see an example of various personalities and leaders that represent your company’s culture.
  • Be purposefully observant.  
  • Take note within your industry of whether it is common to have less than 50% of females, more than 50% of the same ethnicity, consistency of age group “at the table”.
  • Be cognizant of what picture is painted by your team of company officers. Recognize what it says about the importance of pluralism. Assess whether or not this image contradicts your organization’s communication about diversity.
  • Be aware of how diversity influences employees’ and customers’ thinking.  
  • Understanding the difference in learning and communication styles between generations, such as millennials versus generation X, allows an executive to effectively lead a multi-generational workforce.
  • Knowing the characteristics of consumer behavior for various cultures allows a company to tailor their talent mix and customer experience to best meet their needs.  
  • Educating executives on the opportunities for hiring differently-abled team members can help those leaders create conditions for success specific to an untapped and diverse talent pool with incredible potential.
  • Create a process that solicits and values different perspectives.
  • Make periodic brainstorming sessions a part of your company routine.
  • Use invitations to brainstorming sessions to encourage performance.
  • Invite different attendees to each session.

• Seek resources, partners, and initiatives that expose your organization to increased diversity.

  • While technical and functional fit are most important when it comes to recruiting, make sure you're seeking the right tools, networks, and platforms to pull from a diverse candidate pool.
  • Focus volunteer activities and partnership in communities that represent multiculturalism.
  • Encourage and facilitate learning amongst individual team members on the topics of unconscious bias and empathy.

Diversify Your Team

Diversity Management for Teams

Your organization's implementation of purposeful actions towards diversity and inclusion is a step towards making daily diversity management the norm. Furthermore, diversity should transparently be every leader’s responsibility. This effort should start at the top of the organization and reverberate throughout your staff. For the greatest results, diversity should be seen as a thread that is woven into the overall company’s long-term strategy, and not because it's trendy, or for fear of legal repercussions, but because it's right and makes us better when we work together.

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