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Getting Beyond Quotas: Making Diversity Part of Your Strategy Part 1

November 3, 2015
Religion.  LGBT.  Race.  Gender.  So many things to track.  It is no wonder we forget that our jobs are about running great companies that perform well and attract customers.  When it becomes all about the numbers, we have lost our way.  We must make productive changes in our organizations to improve our diversity and inclusion efforts.  Here are a few ways to rethink diversity and inclusion:
 
  1. The invisible is as important as the visible.  Stop looking at inclusion and diversity as a black and white issue.  Diversity as a part of a strategic effort is about making an organization stronger. This means we need to create an environment with people who come at problems and opportunities from different perspectives and angles.  Diversity is bigger than race. 
  2. Look up, not just down.  Diversity and inclusion efforts are no different than any organizational change.  All too often we try to recruit a more diverse workforce, but our boards and executive teams remain as they were.  Start at the top.
  3. Strengthen the process rather than lowering the standards.  Too many organizations create selection procedures to give minorities a leg up.  However, that only hurts the organization and those hired -- including minorities.  It reduces confidence among team members and people from minority backgrounds question why they receive the job or promotion.  Instead, structure your selection and promotion processes to reduce bias and educate those making decisions about recognizing their own bias along the way. 
  4. One offs hold you back.  When an organization does not have a strategy and they decide to make an effort, but have not committed to that effort, disaster typically ensues.  Generally, organizations hire one or two people who are “different” in hopes that they will be the catalyst for change.  Typically those that are different feel a great deal of pressure and carry the weight of the organization’s diversity efforts on their shoulders and they question the organization’s appetite for an inclusion strategy.
  5. Tie diversity to your strategy.  Diverse thought strengthens companies.  Diverse employee populations open up markets.  It is amazing to me that certain organizations still do not get it.  When you sell to customers. you need to make sure your company reflects your customers in some way.  When you service customers, a company must relate to those customers along the way.  Hope is not a strategy. 
  6. Proactively increase your pool.  Recruit from sources such as schools and organizations that have skilled populations and the types of people you want to attract to your organization.  Connect with the leaders.  Make a commitment to these organizations.  Don’t just show up when you are recruiting.  When your recruiting is inclusive and your applicant pool is diverse you will be amazed at the results you achieve.
Want more ideas? Look for Part Two of this article coming soon.