Developing an inclusive and diverse workforce isn't just a moral move, it can also improve your bottom line. And yet, if despite your best efforts your company is still not as diverse as you'd like, there could be some unseen behaviors getting in the way. Below are some problems that should be addressed to help improve managing diversity in the workforce.
1. Your work environment doesn't accommodate all employees.
Think about your work environment. Does it truly accommodate all types of employees or are there ways you could better?
For example, does your workplace provide convenient breaks for all nursing mothers to pump, even in situations when you aren't required to under the FLSA and state laws? Do you consider your employees' religious dietary restrictions when catering an office lunch or event? These inconveniences can add up and may drive workers to quit.
The same applies for your holiday request and work-from-home policy. If it's difficult for workers to take off on holidays or use their flexible family leave, that can make it seem like you're not interested in including them in your company.
2. There's unconscious bias in employee discussions.
Every culture has its own separate holidays, interests and beliefs. When the majority of your employees fit one profile, talking about their personal lives can inadvertently make others feel like they don't belong. As part of your training to end bias in the workplace, point out how this can inadvertently alienate workers with different interests and how employees should try to keep discussions inclusive for everyone.
3. You focus too much on hiring, rather than retaining.
Hiring a diverse workforce is a good first step. But it's not enough to just bring other groups into your company and hope they fit in. You may find that the turnover rate for minority and female employees is much higher than the rest of your workforce because there's not enough of a culture fit.
If that's the case, you're wasting the effort of your hiring spree. Make it a priority to schedule exit interviews whenever your employees leave to see what you could have done to prevent their exit. Put as much focus into improving future retention as you do with hiring.
4. There's a failure to tie diversity to company success.
Your workforce should understand how your push for diversity will ultimately make the company stronger and better for everyone. If employees get the impression you're just hiring for diversity to check a box, they may get frustrated with the new hires and be less welcoming. They need to understand why adding more viewpoints is better for your company's long-term success.
5. There's a lack of outreach to new hires.
It can feel lonely for any new hire and even more so for minority candidates when your origination is not especially diverse. Do everything you can to make these new employees feel welcome and part of the team.
For example, whenever you host social events for your workforce, go out of your way to invite recent hires and encourage them to attend. You could also partner them with more senior staff through a buddy system, so the new employees have someone to teach the culture and watch out for them.
As part of this onboarding, let them know that diversity inclusion is one of your core values and that if the employee ever sees room for improvement, they are safe to share that feedback.
6. There's no diversity in your hiring teams or your upper management.
Your hiring team should represent your push for diversity and inclusion. If you can't do so with your demographics, consider pairing up a person from HR with diversity training along with your hiring manager so you get a more balanced view of potential candidates. This can help keep unseen biases from creeping up in decisions.
Beyond hiring, consider also prioritizing diversity in your upper management and C-suite positions. This shows minority candidates that they have a future in your company and that there isn't a barrier to how high they can go.
7. There's no accountability for improper behavior.
Ultimately, conflict and problems can happen in the workplace. Minority employees need to feel confident that they can safely report the issue and that you'll take their concerns seriously. If your HR department simply logs the complaint without investigating, these employees can feel frustrated and even more upset about the problem—not to mention that the issue will still be unresolved.
Your workforce should understand how your push for diversity will ultimately make the company stronger and better for everyone.
Create a fair process for investigating these complaints. When your employees see that you're trying to solve the issues they've brought up, they may be more loyal.
Creating a fair, inclusive and diverse workforce is not easy, but it's long overdue. By focusing on these hidden workplace behaviors, you can take big strides towards improving inclusion at your company.
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