Even if your company has been striving to put diversity, equity and inclusion into greater focus, you are probably aware that there is still significant room for improvement. You recognize that diverse teams foster better employee engagement and productivity and allow for better problem-solving abilities, but what initiatives can you be embracing to foster DE&I in ways that make a difference?
Reexamine Your Hiring Practices
Hiring presents one of the biggest opportunities to broaden your company’s diversity and inclusion — but it also presents the greatest opportunity for unconscious bias to impede your progress. Revisiting your hiring practices and processes is a critical first step to improve DE&I across the board.
Start by providing bias training for your HR team and department leads, as well as any other roles involved in the hiring process. It’s also helpful to reconsider who all is included in this group: one of the best ways to ensure DE&I remains a priority when making a hire is to include existing diverse perspectives in the hiring process.
Once your team has undergone training, rethink the language you use not only in job descriptions but also across your entire digital footprint. Make sure that you are inviting the broadest cross-section of the qualified candidates to apply.
Broaden Your Talent Pool
One of the best ways to increase the size of your talent pool is to establish strategic partnerships that connect your organization with diverse talent pipelines. It is often counterproductive to simply set an arbitrary statistical quota designating what percentage of your open roles should be filled by a different race, ethnicity, gender or other demographic indicator. Filling a quota can keep you from hiring the best candidate for the role, which can create a pattern of bad hires that unfairly skew DE&I success metrics. Instead, widen your talent pool so that your best candidate is selected from an increasingly diverse list.
Provide Development Opportunities
Hiring from a diverse candidate pool can have a huge impact on the make-up of your team — but don’t assume you always need to look externally to find great people. Determine whether there’s someone on your team who deserves a chance to advance. It’s important to develop those you already have, and be sure to provide equal learning and growth opportunities for all of your employees.
As you start to set development objectives with your team, work to identify those who are a fit for a leadership pipeline and hold yourself equally accountable to getting them there. Benchmark your internal promotions to identify trends and potential areas of bias.
Pay Attention to Your People
One of the best ways to ensure your workplace is inclusive is to listen to your people through informal chats, one-on-one meetings or larger town halls. Make them feel that their opinions are valued and act on what you learn from them. This may include creating more attractive workplace policies that allow for the flexibility and work-life balance that is critical to attracting working parents, for instance, who can’t always confine themselves to a 9–5 schedule.
Demonstrate Your Personal Commitment
DE&I has to be fully embraced from the top down. Lead by example and take responsibility for dealing with your own biases. Ask your team to reflect on their behavior and expect them to share responsibility for eliminating discrimination from your workplace. And continue to educate them, and yourself, formally on DE&I. People start to be engaged in the mission when they understand the why, so be sure to clearly and continuously articulate the many ways DE&I impacts your team and your organization.
Creating teams with a DE&I focus is about recognizing that great talent knows no race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic standing. Developing a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce is no easy task to achieve, but the outcomes — both quantitative and qualitative — make the effort worthwhile.