Diversity isn’t about ticking a box.
When asked to define diversity, most people immediately jump to race, sexuality or gender. But diversity is more than that.
When considering diversity, Gallup says, “a lot of companies consider lifestyles, personality characteristics, perspectives, opinions, family composition, education level or tenure elements of diversity too.”
Diversity also isn’t a one-size-fits-all philosophy. The needs of minority groups you hire are as diverse as the minority groups themselves. The unique situations and behaviors that may appear because of diversity in the workplace are unpredictable. This is why it’s important for HR to have firm strategies in place to deal with any potential problems and protect the rights of diverse groups in the workplace.
Diversity is only part of the equation. Companies must also cultivate inclusion.
Imagine a theatrical play. No matter how many diverse actors you hire, if the lead roles are only given to straight white men, your play isn’t going to be very diverse. Leading roles must be given to people from all walks of life. This is where inclusion is important—not only hiring across diverse groups but giving them an important voice in the day-to-day operations of your company.
Ultimately, it will be your managers and company leaders who are responsible for the maintenance and promotion of diversity and inclusion. Ask your leaders to be educated, and ask them to actively work for stronger inclusion.
Too many organizations aren’t proactive about their diversity and inclusion. They’ll wait until a problem occurs to correct it instead of educating themselves about diversity, anticipating possible conflicts and preventing them.
For instance, instead of waiting for a trans employee to come to HR after the company payroll software deadnames or misgenders them (uses their birth name or improper gender signifiers, both of which can be associated with trauma), an educated HR professional would be able to anticipate this problem and assure that the proper changes are made.
It’s also helpful to incentivize diversity education. Recently, Starbucks tethered its executive pay rate directly to diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as making anti-bias training mandatory.
Any HR department worth its salt is constantly thinking about culture development and taking steps to breathe that culture into life among the workforce. In order to make your company more welcoming to a diverse workforce, it’s helpful to incorporate diverse perspectives and traditions into your company culture.
You can do this by thinking about company celebrations, decorations, design and layout from perspectives outside of your own. Hold company parties for holidays outside of the norm (or consider allowing days off for those holidays).
For instance, John Howard, CEO of Coupon Lawn, notes that the company celebrates Pride Month, Women’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day in addition to standard government holidays.
In another example of workplace diversity, Amazon provides designated prayer rooms for its Muslim employees—and a lawsuit in 2017 established a precedent that Amazon contractors must provide the same. It can also be wise to install meditation rooms or breastfeeding rooms for employees who may need them on their breaks.
Even simple design and aesthetic choices, such as wheelchair accessibility and art and design choices that reflect multiple cultures, can make all the difference between a workplace that feels alienating or welcoming.
Complete Payroll has all the information and processes you need to establish clear workplace guidelines, conduct investigations and handle these difficult cases. Visit our toolkit page here for more information, or read more about the process at our pillar page.