Business leaders must prioritize diversity in the workplace. Not only is it important for them to offer underrepresented candidates employment opportunities for basic ethical reasons, but cultivating a diverse workforce also yields practical benefits.
It’s important to know that having a diverse workforce doesn’t only mean employees come from a wide range of backgrounds. (Yes, that’s one element of diversity within an organization, but it’s not the only relevant factor.) A company with employees from different backgrounds doesn’t truly have a culture that celebrates diversity if, for example, employees from certain groups don’t feel their perspectives are valued as much as those of others.
You can’t assume your diversity initiatives are working because your workforce looks diverse. You need to regularly look for signs that the culture of your company is becoming more inclusive as you grow. These signs may include the following:
A Consistent Range of Age Groups
Keep in mind that promoting diversity in the workplace involves more than simply hiring people from a variety of races, religions, or nationalities. You also need to consider other forms of diversity, such as age.
Pay attention to the behavior of your employees based on their ages. Do you have any older employees who’ve been with the company for a long time? If so, this could be a sign that your older workers feel appreciated and that their voices are being heard, which is sometimes not the case at other organizations.
You also want to be certain younger employees appear willing to contribute ideas and perspectives. Sometimes, young workers feel there is a power imbalance, with older employees having significantly more authority than they do. In extreme instances, this leads to feelings of fear and reluctance when opportunities to share ideas arise. If you notice that young members of the workforce seem actively involved in contributing to the organization’s growth, that’s a good sign your diversity initiative is effective.
Promoting diversity in the workplace is good for a company’s bottom line. You may see signs of improvement in certain key areas if your diversity initiatives are having their intended effect.
For example, organizations with greater diversity than others also tend to be more profitable. Additionally, they enjoy more consistent employee engagement, greater retention, and faster innovation. If these business success factors have changed for the better ever since you began emphasizing diversity to a greater degree, it’s likely because your efforts have been successful.
This particular sign may not be one all leaders need to be on the lookout for. If your company is relatively small, it might not be well-known enough yet to garner much attention from the press or industry professionals.
However, if your company is large enough to be occasionally mentioned in relevant newspapers, magazines, trade publications, blogs, etc., you should monitor how industry insiders and journalists are covering your organization. You may find that you’re cultivating a reputation for inclusiveness.
You may also want to consistently check Glassdoor and similar platforms to see if former employees are leaving reviews. If they were impressed with the level of diversity at your company, they might mention it. On the other hand, if they felt the organization wasn’t diverse enough, they might also highlight that in their reviews, letting you know you need to take additional steps to address this problem.
Expanding Customer Base
This point relates to another major benefit companies see when they successfully implement diversity initiatives. Quite simply, appealing to certain types of customers requires understanding those customers. So, when a company’s workforce becomes more diverse, its customer base often becomes more diverse as well. Allowing your employees to contribute their perspectives helps you more successfully “speak the language” of your customers.
Ask yourself this: Since developing and implementing diversity initiatives, has your company expanded into new markets or attracted customers from races/age groups/sexual orientations/etc. that you previously struggled to attract? If so, this is very likely because you now have a more diverse workforce.
Your attitude and behavior can also tell you whether yours is a company where diversity is truly valued. Some leaders make the mistake of becoming complacent after first implementing diversity initiatives. They see their workforce has become more diverse, and they assume they’ve accomplished their mission. This may mean that achieving diversity was a secondary priority, one they could dismiss after achieving a relatively small goal.
Make sure this isn’t the case at your organization. Even if you do see signs that your organization is becoming more diverse and inclusive, you still need to take more and more steps in the direction of inclusiveness. Doing so is key to making an appreciation for diversity a core element of your organization’s culture.