(TFC) – The idea of “diversity” can be a controversial topic. Many fields lack diversity, either due to tradition or because of human resources managers who aren’t sure how to incorporate more diverse practices into their company without looking like they’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
What steps can you take, right now, to help improve diversity practices in your workplace? Here are five.
Recognize the Problem
The first step you can take right now is to recognize there is a problem in your workplace. Diversity goes farther than hiring, but one of the first and most basic things you can do is take a look at your last six months of hires, or at your current employee roster. Do you see a distinct lack of diversity?
Once you’re aware there is a problem, it becomes easier to narrow down a solution. Why are minority candidates being passed over? It’s not a problem you can wave a magic wand to make disappear, but once you see it, you can start taking steps to figure out where the disconnect is happening.
Understand What Diversity Is
People hear the word diversity and automatically assume it’s referring to men or women of color in the workplace. We should stop seeing diversity as having to do solely with skin tone — having a diverse workplace isn’t limited to race.
It also includes people of different religions, genders, sexual orientations, nationalities and physical abilities. And it not only includes hiring them, but also making the culture at your company multi-faceted and diverse as well so that all employees feel heard, understood and at home there.
Start From the Top Down
Your newest hires aren’t going to be in the position to help you make changes or set examples for existing employees. If you’re trying to improve diversity in your workplace, it has to start from the top down.
This isn’t to say you need to start firing your upper-level employees and replacing them with diverse employees. Instead, you need to instruct upper management to set a good example for those further down the pecking order.
New hires and entry-level employees look to their superiors for examples on how to behave in the workplace. They need to be setting a good example in not only the way they hire, but also in the way they behave in the workplace.
Being active in your efforts to improve diversity in the workplace is often one of the best things you can do. One law firm in Chicago went as far as to create an active Diversity Committee explicitly designed to improve diversity and inclusion within the firm. Their committee is made up of a variety of people — diverse employees of the firm itself and individuals from the local community — and is responsible for all diversity and inclusion related decisions.
You also need to look further than just your city, or even your state, when recruiting. When you’re looking for new qualified applicants, try looking farther abroad — throughout the country or even globally.
Pretty much every company does recruiting, so make sure you’re doing it with diversity in mind. Again, it’s not just about doing it for the sake of doing it. There are fantastic, qualified applicants out there of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, etc. You just have to make the effort to find them — it won’t be hard. But if you happen to be located in an area that is heavily populated by a single nationality, it’s going to require just a little more work on your part to seek out diverse candidates. We promise it’s worth it.
Diversity is about more than just looking good on a human resources report. It’s about building a team of talented individuals from all sorts of backgrounds, races and creeds to create the most versatile group imaginable. Just take the time to do it right. Realizing you have a diversity problem in your workplace is the first step to correcting the problem.
What steps are you taking to ensure and improve diversity in your workplace? If you have some advice you think should be included here, let us know. Diversity is an essential part of any successful workplace and should be embraced. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be off to a great start.