How to Increase Workplace Diversity
Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom line benefits. But you need to approach the hiring process holistically — retaining employees can be more difficult than recruitment. This is especially true for companies in less diverse regions where relocated minority employees may feel disconnected. You may need to take a more active role in helping them adjust to the culture at work as well as in their new communities.
First, identify what your needs are. Does your workforce resemble the communities that you operate in? Do they match the demographic that you serve or want to serve? If not, develop a hiring strategy to increase workforce diversity.
Talk to local organizations with community connections, including churches, cultural institutions and colleges. They can help you connect with candidates. You can also enlist help from local nonprofits that offer searchable channels of minority job hunters. But don’t limit yourself to local chapters or schools. If you have something to offer out-of-area workers, expand your search to other cities, states or countries. The Internet makes it easy to cast a wide net.
Ask employees for referrals, since they will have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work. The relationship can also help new employees adjust to the move. Offer rewards for successful referrals.
Develop and implement an equal opportunity employment policy that follows the Federal EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines. The goal is to establish a meritorious hiring practice that is age, race, gender and minority neutral. Create a committee to help implement the policy and come up with new ideas on how to attract more diversity to the company. Amend the company mission statement to reflect this change.
Make the job more compelling to job hunters by emphasizing details that will attract a more diverse candidate pool. Be culturally sensitive when describing what makes your company a good place to work.
Provide diversity training in your workplace. All employees should understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate and not by quotas. Making the recruiting process more transparent can help ease the minds of skeptical employees. Also be sure managers fully understand the benefits of a diverse workplace. They will be implementing personnel policies so should be fully committed to supporting the practice.
Offer benefits such as onsite daycare, childcare subsidies and flexible schedules, and let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices. If your community doesn’t have familiar cultural offerings like ethnic restaurants, specialty markets or international movies, you can work with the local chamber of commerce to campaign for more diversity and fill those needs.
Give new hires a reason to stay. Devote an equal amount of time and effort in retaining new employees. Familiarize them with the new job and company culture. The first few weeks can be the most difficult time for any employee. It’s important to show they have a future in the company. Clearly communicate opportunities for advancement. Set up mentoring programs to build close working relationships. Finding mentors that share personal interests can foster new friendships.
Form affinity groups that empower small groups of employees to brainstorm about improving products or expanding into different markets. Companies get new ideas and employees are reassured their differences are assets.
Learn from your mistakes. Engage a consultant to assist your human resources team create an effective exit interview assessment to determine why minority employees are leaving the company and what can be done to curb future loses. Be willing to make changes.
Sherri Elliott-Yeary, the Generational Guru and best selling author of Ties to Tattoos, Turning Generational Differences into a Competitive Advantage, is a speaker, coach and trainer in the area of Human Resources and Talent Management. Sherri specializes in helping employers maximize their human capital by collaborating across the generational gap. Her expertise in human capital management and organization includes: workforce planning, company culture, training, assessments, HRIS implementation, regulatory compliance, strategic alignment, payroll, compensation and benefit programs. Learn more at generationalguru.com.