Authentic Ways To Build A Culture That Supports Diverse Talent

by Creating Change Mag
Authentic Ways To Build A Culture That Supports Diverse Talent

Nothing will position you for success quite like a well-rounded team. Though an all-around good team is usually defined by its skills and experience, it’s time to think of things a bit differently—from the perspective of diversity.

Because people care. Job seekers and consumers alike (particularly the incoming and vocal Gen Zers) want to see their values reflected within the businesses they encounter. And while that is certainly important, demonstrating a commitment to diversity leads to other significant benefits for the inner workings of the company itself.

A diverse team brings so much value to an organization. Different perspectives and backgrounds lead to well-thought-out decision-making and increased innovation. More than that, employees are more engaged as they feel heard, represented, and valued.

All of this translates to greater profits, brand reputation, and employee retention. Here are three ways to attract and retain employees by making a strong commitment to diversity:

1. Define diversity on an organizational level

Differences in race, gender, and background should be celebrated in the workplace. It all comes down to senior leaders to set the tone of the conversation and steer the vision of the organization.

So, it also falls to leaders to set the stage for diversity and define its purpose. It’s a common word, but its true meaning is somehow lost in its overuse and intention—noble though it may be. To some, diversity has been watered down to “filling in the gaps” in a workforce without thinking about why those gaps need to be filled in the first place. It’s that classic relationship between intention and impact. To reap the benefits of workplace diversity, those benefits need to be clearly understood and defined.

The key is to pursue diversity deliberately. Why is it important for your organization? And where is it important? It isn’t just about gender and race ratios. It’s about having representation in leadership and departments, in skillsets and roles. This not only helps every member of a team feel included and seen, but it also broadens everyone’s horizons and opens them to new perspectives and experiences. That’s why it’s also crucial to consider every facet of the organization and its goals. What varying experiences, skills, and perspectives are lacking, and how can the organization bring them into the fold?

Don’t forget the customer-facing facets of the company. Who does the consumer want to see representing your product or service? Who do they want to see develop that product or service? Consumers want to see someone who has experienced what they have and sees the world the way they do. There is a certain lack of trust that has stemmed from a long history of assumption and discrimination. Consumers want to see themselves in your brand, so they can know it means something to them and is being presented from an empathetic, authentic place.

2. Optimize your recruitment strategies and goals

Culture starts with people. Therefore, to create a culture of diversity and inclusion, it’s important to consider the talent your organization attracts and whether it results in a diverse team. If it doesn’t, then your recruitment strategies will need a good, hard look (and perhaps a complete overhaul).

What must be done, then, to encourage diversity in recruitment? Aside from the obvious step of including people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds in the hiring team, audit the language you use in your recruitment process. One of the most uncomfortable truths to confront is that everyone will always have unconscious, unintentional biases because of their own upbringings and experiences. Training to spot these points of bias within the hiring team—as well as promoting inclusive language in postings and interviews—is one way to make the entire recruitment process more inclusive. Brett Carter, engagement director for The Jacobson Group, suggests the compelling ideas of screening résumés without reviewing personal information and using software to detect biased language to make up for human error in this area.

Additionally, set milestones and deliverables for diversity in the talent search. This will be easier after considering the definition and purpose of diversity and inclusion for your organization. It doesn’t end there, however. Once promising talent walks through the door, it’s up to leadership to keep them there. Policies with an emphasis on inclusion, transparency, flexibility, and empathy are key. As mentioned, everyone is guilty of bias. That is why fostering a culture that acknowledges and creates pathways to confront biases is so important in making sure employees of all backgrounds feel heard, considered, and valued.

3. Lead by example

It’s a leader’s duty to set the stage for diversity and inclusion in their organization. That isn’t as easy as valuing diversity on your own. You need to emphasize it in steering committees and conversations, promote it in policy and strategy, and instill it in other team members. In other words, encourage a sense of agency in each individual to recognize and prioritize diversity, especially other members of the leadership team. As Anita Raj, VP of product marketing at ThroughPut Inc., a Data Consultant Automation company that helps businesses discover and prioritize their bottlenecks, explains, it needs to be felt at all levels.

“Remind senior leaders about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the company’s overarching vision,” she writes. “Communicate the impact of diversity on leadership, the workforce, and customers. Lead by example to inspire sustainable change at all levels of an organization.”

Management should be educated and trained on the importance of diversity. Does your company have a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement? If not, make one. Add it to job postings, employee orientation materials, and policies and procedures, so there’s no way anyone can become a part of your team and have any doubt that DEI is a topmost priority.

And, as always, leave the door open for conversation. Encourage it! Be honest in your discussions about race, gender, and sexual orientation. Make it known that the company is a safe space to speak openly. Employees should feel welcome to express themselves in the language they are comfortable using and dress in a work-appropriate way that also highlights their individuality and beliefs.

The world is filled with people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. And a workplace that doesn’t reflect the world outside isn’t authentic, nor is it effective. It is the responsibility of senior leadership to effect change in their organizations at every level to celebrate and commit to diversity. After all, it’s great for business and people—and that’s what it all comes down to.

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