Answers to 10 Common Diversity and Inclusion Questions
There has been a great deal of discussion about diversity and inclusion among organizations this year as companies try to incorporate these principles into their daily operations. And for good reason: Research shows that companies with robust diversity and inclusion policies increase their profits, attract the best talent, and enjoy boosts in productivity and innovation.
In order to reap these benefits, however, your organization needs a solid plan for integrating diversity and inclusion into your daily operations and culture. This is a major undertaking, and as you go through the process, you will have a lot of questions on how to best handle it. The following are answers to ten common questions you may have.
1. How are diversity and inclusion defined? What are the differences between diversity and inclusion?
Diversity describes the individual differences that employees may have, such as racial, religious, gender identity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, age, and cultural differences. Inclusion refers to the practice of recognizing the worth of all individuals within an organization and giving them an environment that makes them feel respected, valued, and supported.
Although diversity and inclusion are closely linked, and are often used interchangeably, diversity is about the actual makeup of the talent in your organization and inclusion refers to the culture that allows these diverse employees to thrive within your company. In order to create a healthy company culture, both diversity and inclusion are needed.
2. How do diversity and inclusion practices benefit an organization?
There are several benefits that organizations can gain by incorporating diversity and inclusion into their procedures. These practices can help companies boost their annual earnings, attract the best talent, and increase innovation. Additionally, diversity and inclusion are attractive to consumers: Studies show that people are willing to spend more money with companies that value diversity and inclusion over those that do not.
3. What are the benefits of diversity and inclusion for employees?
Just as diversity and inclusion benefit an entire organization, gains are also enjoyed by individual workers. These values create a sense of comfort and belonging at a company that can help to significantly increase engagement among employees, as well as their ability to be creative in the work that they do. In addition, working in an inclusive environment makes employees happier than when they are in a less inclusive one.
4. Are there ways to measure diversity and inclusion within an organization? If so, how?
In order for organizations to understand where they currently are in terms of their diversity and inclusion, as well as identify areas where they need to improve, it’s imperative for them to understand the metrics. Some areas that you can look at include your company’s hiring rate of workers from underserved populations, the attrition rate of these workers, the rate of promotions these employees receive, and the amount they are given in raises and bonuses compared to other employees. To get a clear picture of what these figures are, your company should measure the markers over time and throughout each department of the organization. Also, be sure to evaluate diversity levels among leadership teams and your organization’s board of directors.
5. How can an organization get started with a diversity and inclusion program?
One way to start addressing diversity and inclusion within your organization is by conducting a survey of your employees who are members of the demographics that you’re targeting in order to find out what’s most important to their communities. Chances are, they feel very differently about the way things are going than other employees do, so their input is invaluable for creating a culture of diversity and inclusion.
From there, you can create policies on diversity and inclusion, which will be the bedrock of your efforts. If you don’t already have some policies that promote diversity and inclusion, one place you can start is by offering flexible work schedules that allow employees to take time off to celebrate different religious holidays or participate in cultural events in your area. Other areas that your diversity policy can address include professional development opportunities, promotions, company transfers, compensation, benefits, and termination.
6. How can a company demonstrate its dedication to diversity and inclusion when recruiting?
There are several ways that you can let job seekers, and your entire community, know that your company is dedicated to diversity and inclusion as you look for new hires. One way is by partnering with local colleges and universities and building relationships with campus groups that represent the needs of underserved populations. Also, your company can create internships and scholarships specifically for the groups you want to attract, post jobs on message boards catering to diverse job seekers, and build relationships with professional organizations for minority groups.
7. How can bias be eliminated from the hiring process?
Although your company may have the best intentions of creating a culture of inclusion and diversity, some biases may still creep into the hiring process—biases that your hiring managers may not even be consciously aware of. However, there are some strategies you can employ to minimize bias when recruiting.
For example, your company can use a blind hiring process, which can include a blind resume practice, where you black out all of the personal information on resumes—such as names, addresses, dates of birth, and locations—so that you’re not using these factors to evaluate candidates. Also, blind interviews that allow candidates to anonymously answer initial screening questions electronically through a recruitment platform further reduce the chances of biases creeping into the process. Additionally, the use of personality tests and technology can help ensure that candidates are screened for their job qualifications and not their diverse attributes.
8. Does having a diverse organization help with employee retention?
Not necessarily. Although letting your community know about your organization’s commitment to diversity may help you attract top talent, that alone will not retain great workers. It’s also important for organizations to invest in the inclusion piece of the puzzle, otherwise the diverse workers they hired will not stay. People need to feel valued after they’ve been onboarded and if they don’t, they will experience stress and dissatisfaction, as well as low productivity, which will cause them to look for a company that makes inclusion a priority.
9. How can an organization monitor the progress of diversity and inclusion initiatives?
Just as you looked at markers for diversity and inclusion when you began this process, you can continue monitoring them regularly to see what your progress has been. By doing quarterly audits on your diversity and inclusion efforts, you can determine what you should continue doing because it’s working, as well as create an actionable plan for the areas that the data reveal you need to improve.
10. How can a company promote diversity and inclusion within the organization?
In order for a diversity and inclusion program to be successful, everyone in your organization needs to be on board with it. This starts with all employees understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion in the company, which you can outline in your policies and reiterate during training sessions. Also, it’s important for there to be accountability in your culture, so when people behave in ways that are contrary to a healthy, inclusive environment, they need to be taught about their biases and given instruction on how to correct these behaviors.
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