Even though diversity is one of the most important corporate values nowadays, it is still one of the most complicated goals to achieve. Why? Because unfortunately, there are too many unconscious and systemic biases at play, and even the most well-intentioned organization can fail in reaching this goal. A big challenge for many organizations is keeping their recruitment process fair. Some organizations deal with this by conducting anonymous hiring in order to eliminate any and all pre-existing biases during their hiring process. Anonymous hiring is good in this matter as it removes any personal details like age, gender, and cultural heritage when a candidate sends their cv. This allows organizations to judge candidates solely on their job-specific skills.
On the other hand, some companies tend to hire for the sake of being diverse, meaning their recruiting managers focus on improving their brand by hiring a diverse group of people. This dishonest approach can negatively impact a company’s future because diversity shouldn’t be forced but should be an outcome of a successful organization. To avoid practicing these negative recruiting strategies, companies should always reflect on the reasons for being diverse and how it can improve their overall productivity. Because, and this is a fact, diversity and inclusion bring plenty of benefits to any organization. Numerous studies have shown that being around and working with different people make us more diligent, creative, and hard-working. Diverse teams produce better results, and diversity (as well as other IDEA aspects) attracts and retains top talent.
It’s What’s Inside That Matters
Diversity should be about increasing people’s participation, not about their symbolic presence. A truly diverse and inclusive team will likely succeed if everyone feels as though they can contribute with their own ideas and hard work. By using the ideas and experiences of people from all walks of life, organizations can increase innovation and improve problem solving.
In essence, it is all about how companies implement diversity within the organizational culture to create a sense of belonging amongst the employees. For instance, a nicely balanced team with an equal number of male and female employees may look great on paper. In reality, however, this could be a toxic work culture. That is why organizations need to hire people who share the same drive and desire to succeed as everyone else around them. Harvard Business Review reports that a strong homogenous culture can stifle natural cognitive diversity due to the pressure on people from minority groups to conform. So, if organizations can use the differences of their workers to their advantage, there will be no pressure to be diverse. Quite the contrary, diversity will naturally be established in their hiring process.
How Can You Successfully Build A Diverse Workforce in Your Organization?
Although it may be challenging to implement the IDEA concept in your organization, it’s all worth the effort. The rewards of having a diverse and inclusive workforce are massive. These rewards may include more innovation and creativity, a variety of perspectives, and a positive company reputation. So, what can you do to make your organization a place where everyone is welcomed, and diversity is appreciated? Here’s how:
1. Educate your leaders. Training and educating your people is the only way to ensure they will have the tools to excel as a diverse team. With informed education and training, your leaders will understand the impact of diversity on your organization and community, the organization’s tools to address biased behavior, and the importance of professional development. If your managers are going to lead diverse and inclusive teams, they need to have training initiatives in place. Voya Finance, for example, has diversity and inclusion at its core. Its Employee-Led Councils play an important role in engaging and educating its workforce and are a vital resource for advancing its business goals. With its Councils, Voya fosters a more inclusive culture where diverse perspectives are valued and celebrated. There are 11 Councils: African American/Black, Asian, Environmental Stewardship, Giving, Latinx, LGBTQ & Allies, NextGen, People with Disabilities and Caregivers, Veterans, Volunteerism, and Women’s Council.
2. Consider your current workforce. Before making policies and setting targets for a diverse and inclusive workforce, you must know where you stand at this moment. Think of your current workforce and identify where you’re lacking in terms of diversity and if your unconscious bias is impacting your ability to reach inclusivity goals. Ask yourself whether your teams are composed exclusively of one gender. Are your roles filled by people from one racial background? You can also identify gaps in your employees’ professional development and work with those who have been held back by stereotypes and biases.
3. Change your hiring process. One way to ensure you are building a diverse and inclusive team is to eliminate biases in your job descriptions. Another way to foster diversity is to use job descriptions to showcase your commitment to diversity. A great example of this practice comes from Airbnb, as they feature diversity and inclusion statements and avoid gendered descriptors in each of their job postings.
4. Set diversity goals. Organizations, companies, and institutions worldwide have historically suffered from bias, and many have paid only lip praise to the idea of diversity. But, if your company sets formal organizational goals for diversity and inclusion and makes them measurable, you can rectify this situation, at least for your part. In addition, your organization can take other measures, such as making workspaces accessible to people with disabilities, particularly those in wheelchairs, promoting diversity education sessions for senior leadership, and setting promotion targets to encourage bigger representation of different demographics in the leadership ranks, etc.
Although it can be damaging for organizations to focus too much on enforcing a diverse workforce, as this should be a natural consequence of a healthy work culture, organizations can still do some things to ensure they’re going in the right direction. By following these steps, companies can create a culture that unites all people and their differences. This will inevitably lead to increased productivity and employee well-being, and I believe that’s all that matters.