Managing Diversity for Greater Innovation and Profit

Workforce diversity is an important topic for talent acquisition leaders. It's also where diversity management begins. We can't have a higher rate of workplace diversity without first addressing hiring practices that we assume are objective.

In this article I’ll cover tips for managing diversity and some of the benefits for doing so. Read on and find out why managing diversity leads to a smarter, more cohesive team. 

Why Workplace Diversity Is Vital 

The word "diversity" is thrown around by thought leaders and underscored by human resources documents. At face value, it means hiring people from different backgrounds. Yet, managing diversity is so much more than meeting the politically correct numbers. 

Diverse organizations have clear competitive advantages in how they approach problem-solving and innovation. Diverse talent pools make varied perspectives accessible. These perspectives represent team members and customers alike. 

Here are some ideas on what you can do to ensure a diverse workplace.

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

If you're looking for ways to create a more inclusive work environment, look no further. Let's talk about steps you and your team can take to enhance workplace diversity.

Build on Collaborative Goals

Appreciate the different backgrounds of your team as well as their skill sets. This allows for a more well-rounded approach to business goals. Create common goals that connect the team and encourage the sharing of perspectives. Outline the hard goals but keep an open mind and allow the team to achieve these goals in creative ways.

Examine Unconscious Bias 

Unconscious bias is sometimes referred to as implicit bias. The University of California San Francisco defines unconscious bias as, "social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their conscious awareness." 

These types of bias aren't exclusive to sexual orientation or ethnic groups either. These beliefs are the result of our human tendency to organize information into categories.

Almost everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and ethnic groups. These biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing them. Unfortunately, this translates to our hiring efforts, an area that can majorly benefit from managing diversity.

Here are some ideas for counteracting unconscious bias in hiring:

Grow Inclusion Efforts

Conventional or traditional organizations will need to become more open-minded. For this to work, all voices need to be heard, considered, and respected no matter how different they are from “the norm.” 

Make an effort to understand the different backgrounds of the members of your team. Reinvent decision making processes that aren't working. Encourage those in leadership positions to try new things.

Use Language That Attracts and Supports Diverse Groups

Team meeting about diversity

Job descriptions should be revisited to provide more inclusive language that appeals to more groups. 

Gender-specific language or restrictive language isn't likely to do much for your goal of more diversity in the workplace. If you're unsure, consult a professional diversity equity inclusion (DEI) expert who can coach the hiring team on more inclusive hiring practices. Or try software like Textio, which analyzes jargon and gender bias language in job descriptions in real-time.

If you want to grow a diverse workforce, job descriptions act as the seed.

Go Beyond Affirmative Action

Compliance is important but it's not everything. There needs to be a core belief centered around embracing differences for diversity in the workplace to thrive and survive. 

A legally sound statement on workplace diversity that’s void of human emotion has an adverse effect on the goals that you're after.

Answer these questions:

  • How can we attract more candidates from diverse groups?
  • What are the reasons diverse talent leaves the company?
  • What assumptions and unconscious bias are evident, how can we improve this?
  • How can we use data analysis to build inclusive practices for existing staff and candidates?
  • Are job descriptions and guidance materials written in accessible language?
  • What are some ways we can build capacity for compassion, understanding, and our diversity awareness?

Excellent Diversity Training for Leadership Positions

Diversity training in leadership positions is a high-impact activity. When work environments lack comprehensive understanding in leadership, it can cause diversity initiatives to dwindle. 

Common mistakes made by leaders:

  • Underestimating or minimizing the challenges that diverse groups face.
  • Perceiving less bias in the work environment than what exists.
  • Launching diversity training that is based on gut instincts rather than grounded in scientific data.

Diversity training needs to be supported by the relevant metrics to show it's working. 

Data is more helpful for assessing progress than intuitive perception. A study by BCG confirmed that "half of all diverse employees stated that they see bias as part of their day-to-day experience at work."

While most managers and executive team members don't assume they have any bias, formal training that challenges their cultural competency can suggest otherwise. A few hours won't solve the issue, and neither will restrictive diversity training or lectures. 

For diversity training to lead to change, it requires regular discussion about the unconscious bias that we all possess and policies that can help counteract it. 

Normalize the topic by tracking KPIs, like pay equity and upward mobility, and discussing your KPIs often. Automated services like Pipeline or Our Office provide detailed insights that lead to a point of reference rooted in statistics.

Benefits of Diversity on Company Growth

Group of diverse co-workers gathered around computer

Work environments that commit to more workplace diversity reap the rewards: There's a larger talent pool to choose from. Many qualified candidates are missed in workplaces that lack diversity. 

Top talent cares to know whether they will be joining a diverse workforce. Glassdoor confirms it with this stat that says, "67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers, and 57% of employees think their companies should be more diverse."

Other benefits of diversity as reported by the World Economic Forum include:

  • More innovation: Teams reflecting greater diversity show up to a 20% higher rate of innovation and 19% higher innovation revenues.
  • Greater profit: Diversity in the workplace leads to a reported increase of 25%-36%​​​​.
  • Better problem solving: A team that's managing diversity well can result in up to a 30% greater ability to spot and reduce business risks.

A Diverse Workforce Means a Better Team

Most organizations realize the many benefits to growing a diverse workforce, but fewer have implemented the necessary, consistent actions needed to get there. 

Get to the root of managing diversity by overcoming personal bias in the hiring process. It's not always easy to spot how the biases we carry is causing us to overlook the best possible choice for our new hires.

Schedule a Searchlight demonstration to see how relying on data can provide a more objective, science-backed hiring experience that leads to greater workplace diversity. A more diverse team means more innovation, profit, and problem solving. It also makes for a more engaged team that is challenged to think differently and support one another at every turn.

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