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A diverse workplace traditionally means including employees from different races, religions, ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and ages. In recent years, the definition has broadened to include having a diversity of beliefs and problem-solving backgrounds in your workforce.

Why do it? What can you achieve by having a diverse workforce? You can expect an increase in innovation and problem-solving, more job candidates to choose from, and lower turnover. There is also data that suggests that having a diverse workforce improves the bottom line. A McKinsey & Company report found that the most diverse organizations are thirty-five percent more likely to have above average profits. A study by Pepperdine University found that companies that promote women to the highest executive levels earn higher profits. In addition, a more diverse workforce addresses employee wants and needs. A Glassdoor survey found that fifty-seven percent of employees want their companies to do more to increase diversity.

Yet many businesses still do not reflect the diversity of the American population, especially among the ranks of senior leadership. If you want a more diverse workforce, how should you start?

Many companies start by looking at their metrics. You might look at your number of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints, the number of minorities you have on board, the number of minorities you have in senior leadership, turnover rates among your diverse workers, and your pay practices. Companies like Apple and Twitter even publish their diversity statistics. While doing this kind of analysis is a good start, it’s not enough.

In order to have a truly diverse workforce, there are a number of actions you could take. You might encourage current employees to make employee referrals, educate your hiring managers about the benefits of a diverse workforce, and brand your organization as being a great place for minorities to work.

But go deeper to examine all of your diversity practices. In doing this kind of examination, Pinterest found that managers often referred people who had backgrounds similar to theirs. To tackle this challenge, Pinterest educated their managers about the benefits of diversity and set specific goals to hold staff accountable.

Make sure that you are sourcing diverse job candidates. For example, Toyota has expanded its recruiting efforts to include the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and John Deere advertises job openings to National Black MBA Association members.

Other best practices for increasing your diversity hiring efforts are assembling a hiring team that includes diverse members and offering internal support to minority employees. Morgan Stanley, for instance, has Asian, Black, Latino, and Women’s networking groups. Many companies also have jobs with titles like Senior Vice President for Diversity, Innovation, and Inclusion and task that role to help the organization source and maintain top diversity applicants.

One more tip to increase your diversity hiring practices … be sure that you can answer a candidate’s questions about diversity in your organization. A Clorox blog reads: “If you cannot answer the diversity question clearly and favorably when it is asked in the recruiting process, young people are going to choose to work elsewhere.”

So how will you answer the diversity question at your organization if asked?


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