15 Tips for Fostering a Diverse and Innovative Workforce

Google’s decision to make public its employee diversity data broadens the conversation on this important issue beyond Silicon Valley.

On its blog, Google candidly states the company is “not where we want to be” and is taking steps to improve the diversity of its workforce. The majority of its employees are Caucasian (61%) and male (70%). Only 2% are black and 3% Hispanic; 30% are Asian.

An inclusive and  diverse workforce is a competitive advantage in today's  global marketplace. Organizations committed to diversity benefit from a variety of perspectives, experiences and cultures, which can lead to more innovations and improved productivity and employee retention.

A workplace that mirrors an increasingly diverse population enables employees to better relate to and serve their customers and more quickly identify unmet needs and new business opportunities.

The following 15 tips can help organizations recruit, develop and retain employees and increase workplace diversity.

  1. Identify your company’s workforce needs based on local communities and plan recruitment accordingly.
  2. Implement a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program with formal goals and strategies.  Publicize the program internally and externally.
  3. Design programs to be flexible enough to easily adapt to different regions, markets and cultures.
  4. Appoint an internal board or committee of senior management responsible for setting objectives and monitoring the progress of the diversity and inclusion program.
  5. Establish a system of metrics to measure the success of diversity initiatives and pinpoint areas that need improving.
  6. Write job descriptions that appeal to a diverse candidate pool and do not discriminate or otherwise exclude certain applicants.
  7. Look beyond obvious recruitment methods and publicize job openings in a variety of venues to reach a wider candidate pool.
  8. Provide diversity and sensitivity training so employees can learn and understand the benefits of a diverse workplace.
  9. Make the recruiting process more transparent so employees and candidates understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate, not by quotas or other goals.
  10. Train managers on the importance of diversity and their role in implementing and supporting the organization’s policies.
  11. Offer benefits such as onsite or subsidized childcare and flexible schedules. Advise candidates of the company's willingness to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and apparel choices.
  12. Retain new hires by taking the time and effort to make them feel comfortable in their new job and company culture and aware of opportunities for advancement. Establish mentoring programs to foster positive working relationships and new friendships.
  13. Form small groups or committees to reassure employees that the company appreciates their differences and empowers them to devise new or improved products or services.
  14. Perform exit interviews to determine why employees are leaving the company. Learn from mistakes and be willing to make changes based on employee feedback.
  15. Stay up to date on current anti-discrimination legislation to avoid potential litigation.

A diverse workforce gives companies a competitive edge by enabling them to attract top talent and build new client relationships. Creating a culture that embraces and encourages diversity is not only a sound business strategy, it also helps organizations avoid violations of various federal, state and local workplace-diversity laws.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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