More and more leaders now know that diversity creates a competitive advantage in today's business world. Leaders who "get" diversity and inclusion understand that different backgrounds, cultures and sexual orientations affect how employees reach their goals. October is Global Diversity Awareness Month in the United States, so it's a good time to make sure you're promoting a diverse workplace culture.
Try these cultural diversity activity ideas and strategies to help create an inclusive workplace.
1. Diversify your hiring criteria and recruiting process.
Hire all types of people based on their individual strengths and unique perspectives. You may need to adjust your recruiting process to attract a more diverse group of candidates. Here are some tips on how to increase diversity in the workplace through hiring:
- Revise job descriptions to reflect a more gender neutral approach to your talent search. Digital tools can help you do this, including Textio and Gender Decoder for Job Ads.
- Post a formal diversity policy on your About Us page as well as on the Careers page of your website. While you need to also “walk this talk," it's a good place to start to frame what you will do in your work environment and draw diverse applicants in the meantime.
- Visualize the diverse workforce you have already. Post videos and pictures of your talent for the world to see.
- Expand your recruiting network. This network should include LGBTQIA, cultural and other diversity-focused organizations and groups. Being a part of these groups sends the message you embrace them. It shows you're proactively seeking group members to join your team.
- Go beyond LinkedIn. Meet your candidates first-hand at local job fairs. Focus on more diverse areas, like college campuses.
2. Highlight team members' accomplishments and celebrations.
Regularly share and highlight what members of the team are doing through a company email newsletter or blog. These contributions can include how they achieved strategic goals. For example, you could share how a team member successfully managed a project. Perhaps the employee completed it before a deadline or brought it in under budget.
Another approach is to share a photo or video about specific cultural days or events employees celebrate. Explain the purpose of these celebrations and what they mean to team members.
This is an opportunity for the rest of the organization to learn something new and connect with team members. It also sends the message that your company respects the beliefs and values of everyone. This has added benefits for remote team members who work in other countries. They can share special cultural days and feel more like a part of the team despite being far away.
3. Host cultural events and activities yourself.
Planning diversity activities for the workplace is a fun option. If you have team members from a certain culture or country, have them direct a lunch in honor of a holiday. Employees can share food and beverages traditionally tied to that event. If appropriate, team members can wear clothing or play music symbolic of that special day. The key here is letting team members experience their differences in a relaxed social setting. It can help the whole staff better appreciate and celebrate diverse perspectives.
Diversity will mean more to the organization if leadership takes an active role.
Also, be sure to celebrate specific diversity days within your organization. Some occasions include People with Disabilities Day, Black History Month, Chinese New Year, Pride Month and Women's Equality Day. Recognize these days within your organization by posting information about them, why they're important and how you plan to celebrate. Get the team involved in planning for a fun way to commemorate these occasions.
Get marketing involved in fun diversity activities. Your company can sponsor a diversity event in your community like a parade, fair, concert or awareness fundraiser. You could create a float for a parade with your team's help and include them in the festivities.
Or, for a fair or concert, stage an informational booth with a complementary service that represents what you do. For example, if you work in healthcare, then your booth could offer free screening services and wellness information.
Work Smarter Through Workplace Diversity Activities
Human Resources can take the lead in implementing and managing inclusion activities in your company. HR can offer diversity training, cultural diversity handouts and icebreaker activities. But diversity will mean more to the organization if leadership takes an active role.
Executives should highlight the value diverse groups of talent play in creating success, and encourage every team member to submit ideas to enhance diversity activities in your organization. They can praise company efforts online and through social media.
One diversity training activity is to set aside hours or days specifically tailored for inclusion training. Employees can meet in small groups and take part in guided discussions during which they can talk about important events in their lives. This lets workers learn new things about each other they might never learn otherwise. By being open and vulnerable, people create connections which can help improve working relationships.
Current team members can be the best sources for channels, events and occasions that highlight diversity and inclusion activities. Give them ownership over these diversity activities. That illustrates you believe in their capabilities to drive positive change in the organization.
Photo: Getty Images