Some people shy away from the word diversity, thinking about it as a term for tokenism or simply a buzzword. However, if you want to be successful in 2020 and beyond, your organization needs to be socially responsible and socially conscious.
The Manifest shared some interesting statistics that might be sobering, depending on how your company currently behaves. “79% of employees would not accept a job with a higher salary from a company that failed to act in response to a report of sexual harassment, and 72% of employees wouldn’t accept an employer that endangers the environment,” they shared.
Diversity encompasses a lot of different elements; race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability and disability, and even diversity of thought. Research shows that diversity improves virtually every aspect of an organization; diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee, according to Deloitte. McKinsey shares that racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better than their less diverse peers.
The benefits are clear. But how exactly can you get started building and supporting a diverse team in your workplace?
If you’re undergoing a journey towards diversity in your organization, you need to start by acknowledging that you’re not going to be perfect. Admitting that you’ve made mistakes in the past but you’re working to improve is better than pretending like everything has been perfect in your organization.
A very important step is to make sure that everyone on your team knows what efforts are occurring. If you’re working to make sure that your organization improves but no one knows about it, your team will become frustrated. Awareness of issues within your organization is half of the battle — just make sure to follow through and actually address them once you understand them.
Create Effective Boundaries In Your Workplace
One of the first steps you need to take is to decide what kind of conversations are acceptable in your workplace. Have you previously allowed political discussions? Do members of your team make off-color jokes that have been brushed off as harmless? Do you assume everyone on your team has the same political stances?
If any of these ring true, you might already have a toxic workplace. Comments you might have assumed are in good fun could have isolated your minority team members. They might just be afraid to speak up.
This isn’t to say that all discussions of news or politics should or could even be banned. You need to figure out what will work for your team. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what that looks like, bring in the professionals. (Keep reading!)
Hire a Diversity Consultant
You might be scratching your head at this point. After all, navigating these expectations can be difficult, especially if this isn’t your area of expertise. So, call in an expert! It’s time to hire a diversity consultant.
“You can bring in diversity consultants for anything from a simple half-day training session to development of large-scale initiatives,” explains SHRM. “Projects might include setting up corporate diversity councils or affinity groups, conducting executive development programs, running focus groups, launching community relations activities, or consulting on recruitment strategies.”
An outside perspective might be exactly what you need to uncover and correct your blind spots. Starting with a smaller project to see if you enjoy working with this consultant is a good idea before you tackle larger structural issues. Read the rest of that SHRM article linked above for a good idea of what to expect.
Use the Right Tools for Your Team
In the same way that you don’t have to try to figure out your foundations without help, you don’t need to try to improve communication and understanding on your own. Make sure to arm yourself with the right tools to develop and support your team!
One of the most important ways you can do this is by utilizing behavioral assessments. These tools help individuals understand themselves better, as well as understanding their teammates.
This improved awareness and understanding will contribute to better communication and increased engagement. “70% of surveyed employees would be at least somewhat likely to leave their current organizations and take a job with one that is known for investing in employee development and learning,” according to the Harris Poll.
Assessments like DISC, 12 Driving Forces, and EQ all help employers get a full picture of their team and their needs. Invest in the well being of your team, so you can understand their needs and perspectives better. This will help ensure that your minority team members are represented and understood while giving you the tools to communicate with the team at large.
Move Forward with a Stronger, More Diverse Team
Now more than ever, diversity needs to be a priority for teams and organizations. The benefits are clear, and hopefully the information here gives you a starting point for your own business. The best time to build a diverse team was years ago, but the second-best time is now. Get started!