What Is Diversity?
It is very important to increase diversity in the workplace by improving your practices of recruiting, hiring and promoting. Diversity is as much about diverse talent as it is about diversity and equality. It has many different forms and layers including differences in age, ethnic background, gender and race. Diversity dimensions also include geographic location, income, parental status, marital status, and religious beliefs. All HR professionals have to make sure they know what barriers are in place to improve diversity and how they can respond to the challenge. It isn’t difficult or hard to create a more diverse workplace, so long as the right HR practices are in place.
HR Policies and Practices
All HR departments should look at the policies and practices and identify how these promote or get in the way of diversity. This means that you can see which excellent practices you have in place in terms of employee recruitment and selection, but it will also show you some areas that need your attention. Some areas that are often identified as needing some attention include a company culture that is biased against a certain group of people. Furthermore, HR departments often don’t have recruitment efforts that are broad enough.
The Importance of Diversity in Terms of Responding to Your Customers
For many companies, having a diverse workplace is mainly about being fair and ethical. They want to hire only the best of the best, but they also want to make sure that there is a fair representation of women, people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. However, it is more than just about ethics. Indeed, having a diverse workforce is a way to better respond to the customer. Companies competing in the global markets will not only need the best products and services, but they must also embrace cultural diversity in their workforce. They will need to change the way they create new products, support those products, recruit and retain workers and communicate with them.
“Workforce diversity is a market advantage in relating to the consumer marketplace, which is commensurately increasing in diversity.” Ask the White Guy: Should There Be an Award to Recruit & Promote ‘Minorities’?
We know that our country is becoming increasingly diverse with a rapid increase in people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, women and people from various ethnic cultural groups in the workplace. This means that you must consider where you will get innovative talent from, and it stands to reason that this cannot just come from a single ethnicity. The challenge in responding to workforce diversity may seem impossible, but successful companies are updating their business practices to reflect the changes in our country’s demographics. They understand that their workers’ cultural backgrounds enrich the workforce and make their organizations more competitive.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
It is very important that you have strong EEO policies in place. This is not a new concept, but one that too many employers still fail to implement appropriately. So just what is Equal Employment Opportunity?
“Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is the concept of providing access to employment opportunities to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, veteran status, military status, domestic violence victim status or ex-offender status.” Promoting Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity
The length of this definition makes people feel that there are too many things to think about in order to get it right. However, this isn’t the case. Very simply put, EEO means that you hire the best person for the job based on skills and experience, not on any of his or her physical characteristics. Some employers are now considering holding blind interviews, meaning that they cannot see the interviewee during the process, thereby being unable to judge that person on characteristics other than his or her work ability.
How to Get It Right
One of the main issues with recruiting, hiring. interviewing and promotion efforts that encourage diversity are that things are often done in one way, and it is hard to move away from that. It is a normal human emotion to be resistant to change, but change makes us stagnant and does not encourage any type of growth. What this means is that HR professionals must learn to think outside the box when it comes to their recruitment efforts. For instance, they may have to consider different types of advertisements.
“Going through regular channels and contacting usual suspects may feel safer, easier or faster for busy managers, but it won’t bring new or increasingly diverse talent into organizations.” Diversity at Work
Moving away from the tried and tested is hard, but effective. Advertising positions in community centers, local newspapers and websites targeting those of ethnic minorities or people with disabilities is a good place to start. However, it is also as much about changing the internal culture. Very often, if everybody at the top is white and male, this immediately puts off any employees who are non-white and/or female from applying for promotions. This means that HR should make a lot of efforts to demonstrate that although the current structure may have placed white males at the top, this will not necessarily remain that way if better talent presents itself.
How to Make Adjustments
One thing that has put employers off in hiring people who are “out of the norm” is because they worry about the financial investment this may cause. For instance, someone in a wheelchair will need to have access to the building as well as being enabled to move between floors without having to use the stairs. People in wheelchairs truly struggle to gain employment, even if they have all the skills needed to do a certain job.
As an employer, your role is to bring in talent. If that means you need to widen your corridors or install an elevator, then this is something that you might want to invest in. If you believe in your HR department and the skills of your staff for choosing people to work in your company, then you will likely believe that the investment you make in making workplace adjustments is worth it, as you are likely to see a return on that investment.
In order to get diversity and equality right in your recruitment, hiring and promotion processes, you have to move away from seeing the differences in people. You need to see people for their skills and experience, judging them based on what they can add to your organization. Your company must ideally become representative of the population as a whole, not just in terms of that being the right thing, but also in terms of the overall success of your company. We need the talents and contributions of workers from all walks of life to be competitive in a global market. Rising to the challenge requires commitment, awareness and a company culture change.