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Do I Really Want to Work Here: What Are Your Diversity Practices Telling Me?

Have you ever walked into an organization and just got that “Uh, why does everyone look the same” feeling… I know I have. You may have heard the expression, people are like snowflakes, and no two are the same – that’s diversity folks. In today’s ever diverse business environment, for organizations to excel, they must pay attention to – and show they value – the diversity of employees and customers.

Infinite diversity in infinite combinations – Vulcan proverb

Many of us know from the first time we enter into an organization, whether as an employee or a consultant, that what they say is not what we see – or feel. So, what are some things that may trigger your “where is the diversity…” feeling?

If you want high engagement, people need to feel as though they can “bring their full selves” to work! We realize it can occur because of many different factors – however – we are intrigued by organizations that don’t pay attention to diversity. Perhaps they just don’t notice what a negative impact lack of diversity appreciation can have?

Regardless, building a successful business requires more than just saying you value diversity. It requires creating and espousing the traits of an organization that embraces diversity, so employees, vendors, and stakeholders can feel safe and comfortable and “bring their full selves” to work –an organization that is respectful, appreciative, trusting, understanding and engaging.

So what won’t trigger that “where is the diversity” feeling and show those interacting with your organization that the organization does in fact value diversity?

High level – we’ll offer a few qualities that may trigger that “where is the diversity” feeling and a few that help create cultures that embrace diversity.

Doesn’t Embrace Diversity

Embraces Diversity

  • People don’t “bring their full selves” to work
  • People “bring their full selves” to work
  • Pay and promotion of one group over another
  • Equal pay and promotion based on performance
  • No visible diversity at all levels
  • Visible diversity at all levels
  • No diverse recruitment strategies
  • Diverse recruitment strategies
  • Homogeneous mentoring and coaching
  • Cross cultural mentoring and coaching
  • No supplier diversity programs
  • Dedicated supplier diversity programs
  • All people don’t feel equal and valued
  • All people feel equal and valued
  • Practices Oppression
  • Values Equality
  • Poor Engagement
  • High Engagement
  • Exclusive
  • Inclusive

So how do you create an organization that values and embraces diversity?

…for starters, begin with diversity in recruitment, we often use and customize, our Recruitment and Retention Lifecycle™ with our client’s.

Short answer – use the 3 steps below to develop and excel in the “embraces diversity” qualities listed above.

Policies and Initiatives: The first step in creating an organization that embraces diversity is for leaders and employees to create diversity policies Leaders and managers within organizations must incorporate diversity policies into every aspect of the organization’s functions and purpose and create specific diversity strategies’ and initiatives. Diversity needs to be defined broadly and should encompass a wide range of policies and initiatives that meet the diverse and changing needs of employees and customers – ranging from recruitment to engagement and retention. Leaders and employees should take active roles in defining and implementing these diversity policies and processes which, in order to succeed, should be fully aligned with the organizations strategies’ and objectives. In order to develop and maintain effective diversity policies, leaders should view employee participation as a necessary part of any diversity initiative. Diversity policies must support employees in learning how to effectively interact with and manage people in a diverse workplace. Policies should recognize and encourage employees to continue to learn new skills in dealing with and managing people. They should also recognize the impact that diverse clients will have upon the success or failure of the organization. Diversity policies should promote learning and education, equality, and appreciation.

Leadership Commitment: The next step to creating an organization that embraces diversity is to obtain leadership commitment. Accountability for achieving diversity goals and objectives needs to be directly tied to incentives and pay increases. The degree to your diversity initiatives will be successful relies on the involvement and commitment of leaders. Organizations which have leaders who are actively involved in implementing diversity initiatives create cultures that embrace diversity by inspiring their employees. Committed leaders champion diversity by infusing it into all organizational processes and ensuring that diversity is integrated into the core values of the organization. They recognize diversity as an important goal, and position the responsibility for meeting diversity goals not merely with human resources departments or diversity offices, but with top-level and senior executives – and themselves. Leaders that are committed to diversity provide the visibility and time and resources to make diversity happen. These leaders view diversity as both a top priority and a personal responsibility.

Engagement: The third step in achieving creating an organization that embraces diversity is – always focus on the people. We’ve said this before, and we think it so important we’ll say it again, organizations can’t exist without people. People make the difference in every business. Once you have diversity strategies and initiatives in place, and accountable and committed leadership, you need to engage employees in your diversity practices – and get them to engage with one another. Design ongoing communication systems to create and reinforce the workplace diversity commitment and practices to all employees with an emphasis on why it is important and what it means to the organization. These communication systems should encourage peer to peer learning and knowledge sharing increasing diversity awareness amongst employees. Additionally, training and empowerment initiatives provide a foundation, for all levels of the organization, to foster the accomplishment of diversity goals. These can include cross cultural mentoring and coaching and employee led learning events. Another way to engage employees in sharing and embracing diversity is via affinity groups or employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups can be groups of people with common interests, identities, and issues like African American, Women, LGBT or even more defined in scope as aligned to your specific organizations products and functions – such as Women in healthcare, Young IT workers etc. It is also helpful to keep the workforce engaged in diversity initiatives by developing organization-wide assessment and evaluation systems to monitor diversity progress throughout the organization.

Diversity: the art of thinking independently together. – Malcolm Forbes

Here’s hoping that most of you desire to be part of an organization that embraces diversity –and strive to create and maintain an organization where people really want to work! What triggers your diversity “gut check?” What do you think are the impacts, if any, of not valuing diversity?

Stay tuned for more articles in our “Do I Really Want to Work Here…?” series!

About Scott Span, MSOD: is President of Tolero Solutions Organizational Development & Change Management firm. He helps clients to facilitate sustainable growth by developing people and organizations to be more responsive, focused, productive and profitable.

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