Today, most companies have adopted — or are actively working to create — a culture of diversity and inclusion. The ultimate goal of these programs is to combat the systemic social issues that have resulted in historical under-representation. But a diverse staff also offers many benefits for companies, including fostering creativity and innovation.
Despite good intentions, however, many companies fall short of successfully implementing such initiatives. While there are several reasons for this, one of the primary problems is a lack of commitment not only to the program but the people it was meant to help.
Investing in People
Diversity and inclusion involve more than a training seminar, hiring policy, or business strategy that occasionally receives some attention. While a strategy to diversify the workplace is critical to begin, there is no set of objectives comprehensive enough to cover the true goal of these efforts. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives will fail if the goal is to satisfy a company policy instead of truly including diverse employees.
People are what make or break our companies. All the best practice business efforts amount to very little if we don’t sincerely and consciously invest in them.
According to Aisha Thompkins, creating an inclusive path to leadership at your business requires a concrete plan. Start by understanding what diversity is — and what it isn’t. Make the case for diversity in management to stakeholders.
Once you have buy-in, consult with experts on how to get the ball rolling. They have the experience to know what approaches work and help you avoid those that don’t. Finally, expand the scope of your recruiting efforts. For example, partner with educational institutions and professional associations that represent diverse groups.
While diversity and inclusion policies might get people in the door, it’s not enough to just hire different types of people and then carry on as usual. There needs to be a positive culture of inclusion that prepares employees for current and future success. Too often, the careers of employees from diverse backgrounds stagnate. This is not because of a lack of talent or desire on their part, but rather because there is no clear path to advancement for them. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to remove the barriers to their success if it is within our power.
The Bigger Picture
Diversity and inclusion initiatives are not just about improving conditions at any one business for any one group. It is so much more than just hiring women, people of color, or those from different cultural backgrounds. Really, it is part of a broader social change that we should all be working to make the norm.
For such change to happen, companies need to ensure that all populations are fairly represented at every level within the company. Diversity and inclusion policies are meant to empower individuals in a way that helps them achieve growth. By actively supporting inclusion, you are building a better future for all people in the business world.