The US workplace has undergone a seismic shift in the last few decades and continues to become increasingly diverse. According to the US Census, by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. And since the passage of Title VII in the 1960s, women have entered the workforce in record numbers and now make up approximately 50 percent of all workers.
In order to adapt and compete in an increasingly global marketplace, an employer must keep up with the times and embrace workplace diversity by considering the following steps.
1. Consider the Benefits of Diversity
Diversity goes well beyond the categories traditionally protected under equal employment opportunity laws such as race, sex, ethnicity, age and religion. Diversity also includes differing work experiences, sexual orientation, educational status, marital status, socioeconomic status, physical characteristics, life experiences, background and upbringing.
A diverse workplace can lead to increased productivity when different experiences, perspectives, viewpoints and backgrounds are taken into account and valued. In addition, it can improve an employer’s brand and public image by making it more attractive to both customers as well investors. Both employers and supervisors should recognize these benefits and work to build and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
2. Hire a Diverse Workforce
An employer should ensure that its job advertisements are free of bias and neutral enough to attract a wide variety of candidates. But that’s not all. To build a truly inclusive workforce, the employer should try to have the applicant interviewed by a diverse group of individuals, eliminate biased questions and focus on job requirements, ability, qualifications and performance.
3. Carefully Onboard Employees
Hiring a diverse workforce is only half the battle. An employer must make its new hires feel welcome and part of the team. This includes providing orientation not only with respect to their job duties, responsibilities and expectations, but also the workplace culture and mission.
An employer also should create a physically inviting space and emphasize an open door policy where complaints or concerns can be raised and addressed as well as a tolerant atmosphere where differences are celebrated and accepted. Mentoring new hires is crucial as well, allowing them to adjust to the workplace seamlessly.
4. Avoid Stereotypes, Prejudices and Harassment
An employer should avoid preconceived notions and try to overcome them by eliminating prejudices and personal biases based on outward characteristics such as accent, dress and appearance. It also should enforce policies against discrimination and harassment by providing equal employment opportunity and sensitivity training. The employer should also objectively evaluate performance rather than make assumptions based on the employee’s background or other characteristics.
5. Build Relationships
An employer should create employee bonding situations that allow individuals to interact with co-workers from different backgrounds. A strong mentoring program or mentoring culture is a valuable tool in eliminating barriers to inclusion for diverse employees and promoting job satisfaction. Establishing mentor-mentee relationships across racial, ethnic, gender and generational lines of difference can be instrumental in aiding workplace diversity as well.
What steps has your workplace taken to become more diverse and manage diversity? Please share your thoughts with us below.