Our country is growing more diverse, which is why managing diversity in the workplace is absolutely critical for businesses that want to stay ahead. Studies show that the population of white people is decreasing, and they will no longer be the racial majority by 2045—and that’s only accounting for race!
Diversity involves even more. It encompasses ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental conditions, socioeconomic background, citizenship status, military service, and many more differences between people.
The first step toward creating diversity in the workplace is leading by example and fostering a culture that welcomes people of all kinds from all backgrounds. Read on for 12 diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies you can begin implementing today, from policies to leadership training to hiring practices.
Build a Solid Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Foundation
Managing diversity in the workplace requires a clear understanding of DEI across the organization. You can create a consistent message and ensure everyone is on the same page by starting with a DEI statement and policy.
1. Craft a Meaningful DEI Statement
First, create a meaningful DEI statement by:
- Aligning it with your organization’s mission and values
- Keeping it concise and easy to understand, free of jargon and complex language
- Addressing various dimensions of diversity, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, and more
- Reflecting a genuine commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where all employees are valued and respected
- Using language that inspires and motivates your employees, stakeholders, and the broader community to support your DEI efforts
- Avoiding empty or generic statements and instead focusing on specific DEI actions and goals
- Collaborating with senior leadership to develop and endorse the statement and demonstrate top-level commitment to fostering diversity in the workplace
- Communicating the importance of transparency in reporting on DEI progress and setbacks
2. Develop Inclusive Policies
Your DEI policies should include a zero-tolerance anti-harassment and discrimination policy, which should:
- Define diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Explicitly state that discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics are strictly prohibited, both in the workplace and in company-related activities
- Include reporting and complaint procedures and an anti-retaliation policy
Other essential policies like your compensation, benefits, employment conditions, and termination policies should also outline your company’s stance on diversity. These policies should be covered in new hire onboarding, included in your employee handbook, and distributed whenever updates are made.
Managing Diversity in the Workplace from the Top Down
Creating diversity in the workplace starts at the top. Once employees see that leaders and managers are committed, they will follow suit.
3. Hold Regular DEI Training for Leaders & Managers
Leadership can only promote your DEI initiatives when given the tools to do so. Consider hosting a range of regular training and workshops specifically tailored to your higher-ups covering topics such as:
- Unconscious Bias Training: Helps recognize and mitigate unconscious bias, which can impact decision-making, hiring, and team dynamics
- Inclusive Leadership Workshops: Focus on developing inclusive leadership behaviors such as active listening, empathy, and creating an inclusive team environment
- Cultural Competency Training: Educates on different cultures, customers, and communication styles to better understand and respect diverse teams
- Microaggressions Awareness: Helps identify and address subtle forms of discrimination and exclusion in the workplace
- Allyship Training: Teaches leaders how to be effective allies to underrepresented groups and how they can support and advocate for marginalized employees
- Managing Diverse Teams: Provides strategies for leading groups with diverse backgrounds and perspectives
- Conflict Resolution and Inclusive Communication: Trains leaders to handle conflicts in a way that promotes inclusivity and maintains a respectful workplace
- Intersectionality Awareness: Focuses on how various aspects of an individual’s identity (e.g., race, gender, sexuality) intersect and affect their experiences
There are many more DEI training topics where those came from, and you should always tailor them to fit your company culture, needs, and goals. Regular leadership training and workshops are vital to gaining your top decision-makers’ buy-in.
4. Start with Communication
Effective communication is key to managing diversity in the workplace. This may involve translating materials, using images and graphics, and leveraging various visual and audio formats. Language and cultural obstacles shouldn’t stand in the way of employees having a clear understanding of policies, procedures, rules, expectations, and any other important information necessary to do their jobs.
This also means ensuring your policies use inclusive language. There are tools that analyze document language to spot problematic words and phrases so you know where to update them. Or, you can hire an external DEI consultant who specializes in reading and editing policies to ensure they are easy to understand and inclusive.
Prioritizing inclusive language in every aspect of your organization will show your commitment to DEI, which in turn will boost employee morale and help you build a more diverse team.
5. Celebrate Differences
Recognize each employee as their own person and celebrate their cultural and individual differences. Don’t jump to conclusions based on their background or experiences. Judge their work—both successes and failures—on their merit instead of by their background. This will help you maintain a compassionate, open-minded approach.
6. Maintain Objectivity
All leadership team members should follow the same standards for everything from hiring to promotion and compensation decisions to disciplinary actions and termination. Every employment decision should be made based on objective criteria, which should be applied equally to all employees.
Implement Diverse Hiring Practices
Finally, building diversity in the workplace requires implementing practices focused on hiring diverse individuals! Follow these strategies to attract and retain talent from all backgrounds.
7. Develop Inclusive Job Descriptions
Start by scrutinizing job descriptions for inclusive language (as mentioned above) and remove any requirements that may unintentionally exclude diverse candidates. Focus on essential qualifications and skills. Remember, it’s not all about a candidate’s prior experience—they may possess unique skills and knowledge that could translate well to your business!
8. Organize Diverse Hiring Panels
Pull together diverse hiring panels to evaluate candidates. Having a variety of perspectives during the interview process can help reduce unconscious bias. Interviewers should vary by traits and characteristics such as:
- Job classification
- Time with the company
- Life experiences
You can verify there will be no unintentional bias by going over the process with each potential interviewer and asking questions.
9. Use Blind Recruitment
Implement blind recruitment practices by removing personally identifiable information (e.g., names, photos, age, education, previous work experience) from initial application materials to reduce bias in the initial screening. There are many software options that can do this to help you hire based on skills and merit and mitigate bias from the recruiting and hiring process. They even allow you to select which features you want to hide.
10. Leverage Diverse Sources & Networks
If you want to diversify your talent pool, you need to seek candidates from diverse sources. You could take advantage of:
- Minority-focused job boards
- Universities with diverse student populations
- Partnerships with community organizations
- Events, conferences, and career fairs targeting diverse talent
For example, if your company wants to hire more LGBTQ+ employees, you might connect with LGBTQ+ professional and student associations. You could build relationships with them and ask to promote job openings in their marketing and communications.
11. Build a Diverse Pipeline
On that note, consider investing in programs that create pipelines for diverse talent, such as internships, apprenticeships, and partnerships with organizations that focus on underrepresented groups. Interns and apprentices who have a positive initial experience with your company are more likely to want to stick around long-term. In fact, 80% of interns who receive job offers at the company where they interned accept them!
12. Offer Inclusive Benefits
Provide employee benefits that support diversity and inclusion, such as:
- Flexible work arrangements for those with caregiving responsibilities or disabilities
- Childcare support in the form of assistance, subsidies, or access to onsite facilities
- Healthcare that covers services related to gender transition, mental health, and other needs that may disproportionately affect certain groups
- Parental leave policies that provide equal benefits to all employees regardless of gender or family structure
Foster Diversity in the Workplace
If you want to welcome people from all walks of life to your team, you have to take the initiative by putting DEI policies and practices in place! This means committing to DEI and publicizing that it is a vital part of your company culture.
Strengthening your workplace diversity also benefits your company! Research by Built In found that diverse companies:
- See 2.5x higher cash flow per employee
- Enjoy 19% higher revenue with diverse management
- Make better decisions 66% of the time
- Are 3x more likely “to feel excited by and committed to organization missions”
…and the list goes on. And today’s workers (largely Millennials with Gen Z not far behind) WANT to work on a diverse team.
Bottom line: Focusing on diverse hiring, policies, and practices is well worth the effort and cost!
If your team needs help getting started or managing diversity in the workplace, contact BlueLion today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-818-4131 to learn how our HR consultants can guide the way.
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.