5 Moves to Make Toward a Diverse Workplace

Having just recently celebrated International Women’s Day, hopefully, diversity should be hot on your radar with recent tags such as #Balance for Better promoting the benefits of workplace diversity.

After all, balance is easier than in-balance.

Talking about workplace diversity and actually putting it into place however are two very different things.

It’s much more challenging and intentional to create a diverse workplace.

But as we’ve shown, it’s well worth the effort—both for your company and for your employees. (See last week’s blog post!)

To help you tackle this process, we’ve put together a list of five tips to help create a diverse workplace.

1. Create a hiring team (with Executive Level support)

Instead of only having the hiring manager interview candidates, try putting together a small team who will bring a variety of perspectives to the table:

  • A person from HR perhaps,
  • A mid-level manager or fellow employee,
  • As well as the direct manager would be a great start.

(or could be different profiles, age demographics, years of experience and/or background cultures).

Also in this same vein, make sure that those on the top truly support these diversity policies and efforts.

“With real commitment, encouragement and leading by example, an organisation’s top executive can enable progress to take place by supporting all programs to encourage diversity.

Diversity should also be on the strategic agenda; your CEO should visibly champion diversity,” as said in Hays Australia’s report, “The Balancing Act: Creating a Diverse Workplace,”

2. Put together diverse short-list pools

Try to consider skill set and education as well as background when creating your final list of candidates to interview moving forward.

Do this by creating what Hays Australia calls in its report, shortlist targets.

“[These targets] force hiring managers to interview and consider a diverse range of candidates, from which they can then make hiring decisions based on who has the best skills and experience.”

3. Avoid bias and stereotypes

A good start is to ensure pay parity and equal pay for equal work as well as equal pay for part-time work regardless of race, gender or background.

If you haven’t reviewed your salary list yet may I suggest this is the first thing to do to ensure equal roles in your business and provided with equal pay.

There is still a long way to go in this area particularly in some industries such as law, medicine.

Technology and business where the issue is not only pay parity but ensuring participation of diverse backgrounds and particularly, women are set up to even be in the running early.

If women (or other minority groups) are not even participating at early points, it becomes an even bigger issue. To assist with this, leaders can make a positive contribution by ensuring for all team members that they are:

  • Looking for ways to get active involvement from a wide range of roles and
  • Ensuring providing access to interesting and challenging projects for everyone (you know, the ones that everyone wants) and
  • Looking at ways roles can be more flexible and
  • Watching any negative biases (and/or even promoting and positively supporting males taking parental time off as well as females).

It is important to realise that equal opportunity does not have to always mean identical opportunity. It is about not being excluded.

A friend told me a story about how she was interviewing for a promotion at her company.

She had recently returned from maternity leave. While she was in the interview, an executive, who knew she was a mother, asked if my friend knew that travel was involved in the job.

When my friend said yes, then the executive went on to suggest that it might be hard to travel with a new baby at home.

That’s not up to the executive to decide, but rather my friend who had already carefully considered the role requirements prior to applying.

Would the executive ask the same question of a new father? Doubtful.

These and any other assumptions about candidates should not enter into the hiring decision. It’s time to see each potential employee for who that person is:

  • What skills are brought to the table and…
  • If the behaviours are to be a good fit.

4. Educate your employees

Hiring isn’t the only place where we need to focus on when we talk about workplace diversity.

  • What’s going on with the staff you already have?
  • Is anyone overlooking a co-worker because of their race? Or gender?
  • Do people make assumptions that the 62-year-old doesn’t care anymore?
  • Is the newly out co-worker being treated differently?

According to the survey that Hays Australia did, 44% of the employers offer cultural awareness training for managers and staff.

While this number needs to improve, I agree with what the report went on to say:

“This is a sensible strategy since training can help counteract any concerns staff may have about diversity or about potentially saying something that could be viewed as discriminatory.”

5. Assess your benefits and company culture

It is important to ensure that all voices in your business are given a forum to speak and are heard.

Research shows that money isn’t the only motivator to current and potential employees.

  • Flexible schedules,
  • Floating holidays (which allows for accommodation of other cultural and religious holidays),
  • Domestic partner benefits, to name a few.

The point is, there are a lot more ways that you will not only retain a diverse workforce but also attract one.

And one extra: Don’t go for a quick win, but rather the long haul

Workplace diversity isn’t a race, but rather a marathon that is worth running.

So keep in mind, that your business is going to need to dig in and do the hard work, but the goal is worth attaining. In the first instance, at least aim for a better blend of the workforce!

We will wrap up our report on workplace diversity with next week’s discussion of how Australia stacks up.

Next: Are you ready to tackle diversity in your business?

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Whether you’re ready to join our next session or want personalised help for HR issues, send email to me with the subject line: “Help me with HR!”

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