“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” are words that have been floating around the business community for many years, but it’s been primarily an effort of big businesses. Small companies typically have infrequent hiring needs and, therefore, feel they can have a limited impact on diverse hiring. In recent months, however, more small businesses are asking how they can incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion to eliminate the inequality we see in the workplace. Make a positive impact on your company by incorporating some of these suggestions to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace:
Increase Awareness on the Importance of Diversity
The act of just increasing awareness has impact. Acknowledging that a workforce is lacking in diversity opens the door to the bigger question of what diversity means in a workplace and why it matters. I’ve spoken with a few clients who have asked about increasing diversity. When we look at the makeup of their workforce, often is has a lot of diversity with women, LBGTQ individuals, and multiple ethnic groups represented – but what they mean is that they don’t have Black or brown employees. Does that make their existing diversity less impactful? This leads us back to the question of why we care about diversity in the workplace. We care about diversity because we know our companies are stronger and more profitable with different experiences and mindsets tackling problems.
Extend the Reach of Your Job Postings
Hiring processes are still very reactive. We post a job, people apply, and we pick a candidate. This approach won’t result in more diversity. To proactively tackle diversity, we must change how we hire. If you want different candidates, your job postings must show up in different publications that reach different audiences.
Be Clear in What You’re Seeking
For those of you who’ve done a lot of hiring, you will recognize the tendency to hire like-minded individuals, often connecting with people because of similar experiences. However, it’s essential to recognize this bias and seek individuals who we not only like but individuals who will push us forward and tackle the challenges of the business.
Remove Implicit Bias
Another step is removing implicit bias in your hiring. Most of us believe that a person’s name or other personal data on a resume doesn’t influence us, but we all have implicit biases. Consider masking names and additional personal information from your initial selection process to help mitigate the risk of implicit bias in the process.
Don’t Exclude Equity and Inclusion
We’ve talked about diversity in hiring, but what about “equity” and “inclusion.” Hiring more diverse candidates is not sufficient. Each member of your team must operate on the same level playing field – this creates equality. Equity and inclusion require a step further. You must attempt to identify needs and requirements by demographic traits such as ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, and other factors. You can then bridge the gap between minority and majority groups to empower each of them. An example is to be sure that food options for all dietary needs are available at a company party. Shift your focus from what is important to ‘me’ to what is important to ‘we.’
Regularly Review Your Efforts
As employers, we are often unaware of small things that we might do or say that lead to inequity and feelings of exclusion. An easy and necessary first step is to be proactive. Be open about your desire to create an equitable and inclusive workplace and ask what kinds of actions or inactions create inequity, and then implement changes in response. Make this a regular survey for the business.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives improve company performance, but they cannot be just for good PR – they must be authentic. There’s work involved in understanding your goals, evaluating your gaps, and implementing effective systems. If you’re ready to take this on, your team will see your commitment to the hard work and support your efforts.
You are not alone – Speak with an attorney to discuss your efforts to improve workplace diversity and inclusion without conflicting with applicable discrimination and employment laws. Contact us at 425-250-0205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general information and should not be viewed as legal advice. You should talk with counsel familiar with your unique business needs before taking or refraining from any action.