A diversity and inclusion program is not just a box-ticking exercise. It is a blueprint to a brighter future for your organization.
You’re hard pushed, these days, to find a major blue-chip company without some kind of diversity program in place. And yet – if you look at the huge variations when it comes to the actual diversity of these companies’ senior management teams, it is clear that just having a program is not enough.
Not all diversity and inclusion programs were created equal. In a 2020 survey, 54 percent of employees felt that their companies were not doing enough to promote it.
The benefits of diversity programs are clear. They open up a whole world of untapped talent from underrepresented demographics. They will encourage innovation at an organization, while at the same time, making it more appealing to candidates from all demographics.
In another 2020 survey, Glassdoor found diversity was a major deciding factor for candidates, when choosing an employer. For many talented people looking out for their next career move, a diverse working environment speaks to a positive, modern, socially responsible workplace culture.
Put simply, you don’t just need a diversity program. You need a diversity program that works. And these are the things to look out for…
To Find the Solution you Need to Understand the Problem
Before you can make a change, you need to analyze your organization from top to bottom, and that means no assumptions. You may have women on your team, for example, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have gender diversity issues to address. What roles are women in? How senior are they? How do their salaries compare to their male counterparts? Are you doing enough to help trans and non-binary employees have an equal footing in your organization?
You may want to conduct internal focus groups, research projects, or engagement surveys when getting started. This serves as a way to incorporate employee feedback and demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity. A thorough assessment will help you establish what works and should be included in the diversity program and identify the areas in need of improvement.
Work Out a Clear Training Schedule at All Levels
Your diversity program will not work without the support and buy-in of your employees – particularly managers. However, they cannot provide this buy-in until they understand the program and its goals themselves. A clear training program ensures people know what is expected of them and also impresses upon all employees that you are serious about inclusion and diversity.
To make your training effective, you should focus on clear metrics and explain the benefits clearly to everyone involved.
Offer diversity education to everyone – not just your managers. This will further reinforce the importance you place on diversity. It is also empowering for your staff to be able to identify and respond to discriminatory behavior.
Creating the Next Generation of Diverse Leadership
If you don’t have a mentorship program – now is the time to start working on one!
Research has shown that mentoring programs can greatly improve diversity in the workplace and managerial roles. This is particularly true when they focus on actively matching mentors and mentees across lines of diversity such as age, race, and gender.
And when it comes to employee retention, few initiatives are as powerful.
Create a Targeted Recruitment Program
It’s worth noting that after you have reviewed the existing state of affairs and implemented training and mentoring programs, it is now, and only now, that you should tackle recruitment. If you skip straight to recruitment without addressing these other underlying issues, it will act as little more than a band aid plastered over what could be a very deep fault line. The benefits of targeted recruiting programs to boost diversity, taken with other steps, are widely recognized. For example, launching a recruitment program now, could greatly increase the number of ethnic minorities and women you have in managerial roles five years from now.
Consider what will make your company more appealing to a more diverse range of employees. Then you can actively seek out talent in cultural groups that are currently underrepresented in your company.
Set Out Clear Goals and Targets
Many diversity programs fail, largely, because they are just a little bit vague. They have a lot of positive-sounding statements, but little in the way of specific goals. Essentially, how successful can you really be when you haven’t worked out what success actually looks like?
Without clear targets and goals to hit, it may be hard to garner the motivation and urgency you need.
Laying out objectives and a system to monitor your organization’s progress towards them, is an effective way to hold managers and leaders accountable for decisions and encourage them to prioritize diversity.
Appoint a Diversity Manager
If you’re serious about being proactive about your program, appointing a diversity manager is a huge step forward. This ensures there is an individual monitoring and enforcing your company policies around tolerance, inclusion and diversity. This move also takes the pressure off your Employee Resource Groups, whose members often take on diversity projects in addition to their day-to-day jobs.
Keep Reviewing and Reassessing
Goals will only help you achieve your diverse aspirations when you measure and assess them regularly. This ensures your current measures are actually working, allows you to consider future needs, and makes it more possible to shift direction when and if necessary. Assessments also allow you to adapt to new issues as they come to light.
Having set periods for your reviews will help to properly examine and adjust existing policies. Annual or quarterly assessments will keep your diversity program aligned with the needs of your business, workers, and the wider world.
The Next Step
If you’re really ready to set aside your affinity bias and create an environment that welcomes a broader spectrum of society by creating diversity and inclusion programs, what’s the next step? Devising a strategy that will effectively focus your efforts is key.
Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts about proven strategies that will help you create greater diversity within your organization.