Well, the first step is for everyone in the organization to recognize that promoting diversity goes beyond setting up programs to attract and train a diversified workforce. Leaders need to do more than just hire a diverse workforce; they have to train them, too! Surveys show that it is very important for companies to offer workplace flexibility, and this includes offering job openings to women and minorities who want to return to school or change career fields. Companies that are successful in doing this understand that a diverse workforce leads to high morale, low turnover, and high productivity.
Next, leaders need to learn how to recruit and encourage an inclusive leadership team. This means knowing who among their current leaders are different, as well as anyone from outside the company. It also means being proactive in encouraging diversity internally. A diverse leadership team is one of the most powerful forces for success, but even a small force of one-and-a-half leaders can make a difference when they take the time to really understand diversity and its role in the workplace.
Most companies have no specific program to offer to employees who want to diversify, but they should consider creating a welcoming environment so people come in with an open mind. A good way to do this is to encourage inclusion, regardless of religious beliefs or political beliefs. Companies should provide a non-discrimination policy for employees, regardless of age, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or race. Employees should be encouraged to use the restroom, at work and at home, according to their gender and religious beliefs.
Sometimes hiring a diverse set of skills can be a benefit for a company. Diversity can be advantageous if your company values creativity and innovation above all else. If you are a manufacturing company, you might find that religious beliefs or political beliefs will not prevent you from hiring someone who is capable of bringing fresh perspectives to your business model. It may just be that you need a diversity perspective on how to make your workplace more diverse culturally and politically.
How can leaders promote diversity by creating a workplace climate where everyone is comfortable with being different?
Sometimes a simple way to do this is to create mentorship programs. In a mentorship program, experienced leaders help new employees identify their greatest strengths and areas of strength. These leaders help the new employee to identify areas in which he/she could improve, and in doing so create a leadership development program, or SLDP. The new employee also benefits by learning from others leaders, who can provide them with advice and expertise in areas that they are weak in.
How can leaders promote diversity by hiring a recruiter who has a lot of diversity experience, but who is also a woman?
Recruiters have a lot of diversity experience and are much more comfortable dealing with people from varying backgrounds and ethnicities. A female recruiter could help an organization to figure out how to hire someone who is not a traditional “female” employee, but who has an entrepreneurial mind, strong leadership skills, and other characteristics that are needed for the modern workplace. She could help create a company culture where all employees feel comfortable asking questions and taking ownership for their performance. And, if a Pandemic occurs (oh, it is here already, isn’t it), and a Pandemic affected the workplace (it has indeed affected the office, right?), a female recruiter could help lead the way to recovery, by helping create a safe working environment for everyone.