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Getting Beyond Quotas: Making Diversity Part of Your Strategy Part 2

August 4, 2015

These days, organizations are struggling with diversity efforts. They spend most of their time focusing on numbers and staying compliant with the law.  Rarely do you see organizations truly use diversity as a strategic advantage. In the last article, I shared six strategies for companies to get beyond quotas. In this article, Part II of Getting Beyond Quotas: Making Diversity Part of Your Strategy, I will be sharing six more strategies for doing so.

  1. Ask Before, During and After. As an employer, it is important to understand what the needs are of all your employees before you hire them, while they are working for you and after they are hired. Many organizations do not understand the needs of different communities they recruit from or lack meeting the needs of certain employees at the workplace. And, in many cases, organizations enjoy great alumni with previous employees that plays the role of success in an organization after the fact. Keep up with and maintain communication with different minority groups or interest groups that are reflective of your organization and what your organization is trying to create.
  2. Mentor Me. All too often mentoring development is regulated to a select few.  We call them high potentials. The challenge with this kind of approach is reflective in the messaging that it sends to those that are not a part of that group.  It tells everyone else they are not high potentials and reduces the reclusive environment that you are trying to create.  Offer mentoring development opportunities for different types of employees to allow for them to be successful in the environment.
  3. Inter-Cultural Potluck. Find ways to celebrate the cultural backgrounds of different employees. Some companies actually hold potluck lunches in an effort to celebrate the diverse backgrounds of their employee population. When people learn about other cultures and appreciate special things about other cultures, including their food, they tend to treat people differently. And, when you create a team of individuals that begin to learn about one another and appreciate the background and experiences that other people have had, your environment becomes much more inclusive.
  4. Educate Everyone. Make sure that people are educated about the culture and expectations of the company, and the law, but most importantly, help them understand the value in treating other people in a way that makes them feel included, recognized and valued on a daily basis. They need to understand that there is a difference between political correctness and treating people with respect in a way that they actually feel respected. The work environment is a place where teams of people must collaborate well to produce a product or service that is competitive in the marketplace. To do that, everyone must be educated and understand the value that everyone brings to the table.  Inherently, the workplace is not a place for people to make individual stands around different issues.
  5. Develop the Board. A company’s board is paramount when it comes to diversity and inclusion as a strategy.  First, the more diverse and inclusive the board is, the more diverse and inclusive an organization will be. More importantly, diverse boards help organizations think about their business in a manner that will help it grow, make them creative, innovative and address the needs of different customer populations that exist.  Companies with diverse boards out-perform companies with boards that are not diverse.
  6. Check Benefits and Policies. Review your company’s benefits/policies and ensure they reflect various aspects of diversity.  Not only do you need to be concerned about religious differences and sexual orientation, but benefits should reflect the differences in the population’s ages and generations. Our benefits should be flexible to address the different needs of all our population, which is challenging these days.

Ultimately, our ability to be inclusive and recruit a diverse workplace will help us outlive our competitors, out-perform others and build a lasting bond with our customers.

What strategic ways have you seen organizations address inclusion and diversity in your companies?