Companies need diversity. It helps them think with a wider breadth of perspectives, makes them look better to the public eye, and gives them access to the potential revenue gains from employing people who can contribute different things to the companies they work for. Still many hiring managers and people in charge don’t see hiring diversity as an issue.
As a business leader, you have to know if you are on the right track when dealing with questions of diversity and inclusion. Think of forming a successful partnership between diversity and inclusion like a dance, and the easiest place to begin is by learning from the missteps of others. Let’s look at three of the common moves that get in the way of companies with good intentions, but poor execution.
Misreading inclusion as assimilation
When a group takes the floor and executes a perfect line dance, it makes others want to learn the dance. But when that dance is the only one performed, people lose interest.
There’s a temptation in executing diversity and inclusion to make it a two-step process: gathering all kinds of different people, and, second, turning them into carbon copies of those already in the company. This tactic forces them to lose their unique personal and business value to the firm. Inclusion is about allowing their untapped potential to find means of expression that add to the bottom line; to show their own moves and expand the repertoire of everyone at the dance.
Failure to measure and review
The dance hall may be packed for the moment and look good in still pictures. But are the people having a good time? How do you know they will come back again?
Diversity is a first step, but it isn’t enough to gather all the people you want in one place. A successful program provides multiple channels of feedback, allowing management to integrate inclusion and diversity both into every division and into everyday responsibilities. Management should establish the metrics and follow up on a regular basis. Whether establishing mentoring relationships, resource groups, or clear and publicized paths to promotion, it’s crucial to publicly commit to feedback and regular reviews.
Blind to bottom line value
Creating a fun dance environment that makes people feel included – that this is ‘their’ place – encourages them to promote your success.
Too many businesses think of inclusion and diversity programs as additional costs sunk into programs for a cosmetic return, resources drained from central business purposes. But high turnover and poor decision-making processes cost companies dearly. A more diverse and well-integrated workforce can increase innovation and collaboration, improve decision-making, and better navigate market changes. Unleashing the potential of cognitive and cultural diversity results in better teamwork, and team members who give their best to make your firm the best.
The bottom line
Diversity is about the numbers, and inclusion is about the experience. An honest, intentional and thorough implementation plan that is regularly measured and reviewed can enhance the experience for all employees, and boost profitability across the entire company.