By: Glaelis Sierra – Account Director at Williams Whittle

Most leaders say they value diversity in their organization. Some leaders might do so for strategic business reasons, maybe to mirror their client base, but others might do it because it’s trendy. According to Glassdoor, 69% of executives rate diversity and inclusion as an important issue.

Diversity can be simply defined as a range of different things. But what does it mean when it relates to the workplace?

According to Ideal, workplace diversity is understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those:

  • of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations
  • with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases

It is important to understand that generations view this term differently. A report from Deloitte revealed that Millennials view workplace diversity as the combining of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and they believe taking advantage of these differences is what leads to innovation.

Gen Xers and Boomers, on the other hand, view workplace diversity as equal and fair representation regardless of demographics without necessarily considering diversity’s relationship with business results.

On the other hand, inclusion in the workplace is a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees. True inclusion removes all barriers, discrimination, and intolerance. When applied properly in the workplace, it is natural for everyone to feel included and supported.

Diversity and inclusion are more than trendy buzzwords. Both topics need to be taken seriously in the workplace, especially as millennials will be replacing boomers. And knowing that by 2044, groups formerly seen as minorities will reach majority status.

It is expected that millennials will comprise 75% of America’s workforce by 2025. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that millennials are by far the largest and most diverse generation. About 44.2% of millennials are part of a minority race or ethnic group.

Gen Z, people born after 1996, are even more diverse than their generational predecessors. They are graduating from college during a global pandemic. They are more familiar with gender-neutral pronouns. And a recent study from Business Insider showed that 81% of Gen Z’s have one or more friends of a different race.

So, all the facts point to a diverse and inclusive workplace. The U.S. population is changing and with that, organizations need to transform as well. This includes changes in hiring, make changes inside the office and in how management communicates in order to reach younger generations with a new mindset. Below we give you some ideas on how to achieve these goals.

A Glassdoor survey found that 67% of active and passive job seekers find a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating prospective companies and job offers.

A few more facts on diversity and inclusivity in the workplace from Oleeo

  • Companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.
  • 57% of employees want their company to do more to increase diversity
  • Inclusive companies are 1.7x more likely to be innovation leaders in their market
  • Diverse companies are 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market
  • Highly inclusive organizations generate 2.3x more cash flow per employee, 1.4x more revenue and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.

So, now that you know the facts – is your workplace diverse and inclusive? And, how can you make sure that you’re hiring a diverse workforce?

Diversity initiatives should be more than a rainbow logo on your social media and careers page. Companies should walk the talk and show it in the most authentic way.

Here are three tips to get you started on diversity hiring:

  • Start by demonstrating your commitment to diversity to your internal audiences.
    • Be transparent to your employees.
    • Develop internal programs, resources and networking groups to support your employees.
    • Listen to your employees and they will be your number one advocates promoting the programs and resources available to them. This will help you identify the gaps in your workforce.
    • Communicate with your employees and candidates about your initiatives.
    • Highlighting initiatives internally can also help create a tighter community within your organization.
  • Actively recruit for diversity by targeting your audience.
    • Brand your organization as one that cares about diversity
  • Keep inclusion on the agenda.
    • Organizations should frame inclusion as an opportunity for both employees and the company’s bottom line.

But, what about inclusivity? Besides having a diverse workforce, organizations should pay attention to inclusivity as well. An inclusive workplace fights against discrimination by providing equal opportunities for all of its employees regardless of gender, race, age, etc. A place where everyone is welcomed, where they feel supported and included in all aspects of their work.

In order to build an inclusive workplace, organizations need to start by educating their leaders. Some of them might not understand what it takes to be inclusive, especially if they’re part of an older generation. Help them understand it’s an important issue and what are the goals of the organization to make it happen.

Other ideas to build an inclusive workplace include –

  • Celebrate employee differences and show them you respect their background and traditions. You can host a company-wide potluck lunch where people bring a native dish from their country. This is not only good for socializing and team-building, but also good to learn from other countries and your co-worker’s backgrounds.
  • Start celebrating more diverse holidays – ones that focus on women, minorities and other cultures around the world. Some holidays worth celebrating include Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Gay Pride Month (June) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th). Celebrating these holidays will make good content for your social media channels and blog. But don’t leave it at that, take the opportunity to donate money, volunteer and inform employees of the company’s efforts.
  • Host a book club – choose books centered on self-development or biographies, books that highlight inspirational women or minorities. Employees that want to participate can meet for 30 mins once a month to talk over what they’ve read.
  • Invite a diversity and inclusion speaker to the office – order lunch and have a speaker come to talk about these important topics. It can be followed by a discussion session, which means more team-building opportunities.
  • When hosting a meeting, use the Round Robin technique and ask everyone to contribute their ideas. Start with one person and go around the table clockwise – this way, everyone’s voices will be heard.
  • Reassess artwork around the office. Artwork featuring nature, abstract shapes, company creative/memorabilia and architecture are always safe bets. Also, look at your coffee table books. Inspirational quote books and books explaining how diversity and inclusion benefit the workplace are good options.

Other aspects of inclusivity to keep in mind include making sure you have an accessible office building/space with ramps and elevators as needed. Have parking spaces reserved for handicaps and other people with special needs. Think about a prayer or meditation room, a lactation room or simply a thinking room. Sometimes it helps to get outside your office space to get fresher ideas. Have office furniture that’s accessible and ergonomic, allow service pets on the building, have gender-neutral bathrooms and stuff it with feminine products, such as tampons and pads.

The world is changing and we have to catch up. Our coworkers’ needs are evolving and we must adapt to embrace those changes. Clients’ needs are shifting and they expect to see a diverse and multicultural workforce with companies they do business with.

Consumers are evolving and organizations must shift their mindset in order to meet consumer expectations. They are multicultural, they are diverse and they need to feel included on your communications or marketing efforts.

If you wish to learn more, check out our blog post with five tips for multicultural marketing. As you’ll see, the first tip is hiring a diverse multicultural team. At Williams Whittle we embrace diversity and we’d love to work with your nonprofit organization. Drop us a line a line today.