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Workplace Diversity

6 Elements of a Successful Workplace Diversity Program


By Josh Young Sep 19, 2017

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Just this past week, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a new report focused on the successes and failures that American businesses have experienced in embracing gender diversity in the workplace.

Among its findings, BCG reported that while 89 percent of surveyed companies had some form of gender diversity program in place, only 27 percent of respondents believed that they had actually benefited from these programs. Which begs the question -- are these programs accomplishing anything?

Trying to create a welcoming space for all of your employees? Read: How to Promote Inclusive Coworker Communication

While an effective diversity strategy can help create a more inclusive workplace, the BCG study's authors note that "the real problem is that many organizations simply don’t know which measures are most effective in improving gender diversity."

What Does An Effective Diversity Program Look Like?

1. Information-based

You won't know if your diversity efforts are successful unless you have a means to track your success. By establishing clear goals and monitoring their progress, your business can hold leaders and managers responsible for their decisions and encourage key decision makers to keep diversity a priority.

2. Mentoring

According to research compiled by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, mentoring programs -- particularly those that actively match participants across genders, races, and ages -- can greatly improve workplace and managerial diversity. On average, an effective mentorship program can increase the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men in managerial positions by 9 to 24 percent.

If your business doesn't already have a mentorship program in place, start one. The team's findings also indicate that mentorship programs tend to be more successful when mentees are assigned to mentors from a central pool rather than allowing potential mentors to make their own selection.

3. Targeted recruiting

As part of the same project, Dobbins and Kalev also identified targeted recruiting programs as a useful diversity tool.  Based on their findings, if your business launched a diversity-focused college recruitment program this year, by 2022 your company would likely have increased the number of women and ethnic minorities in managerial roles by almost 10 percent.

4. Diversity and inclusion training

You should offer diversity education to everyone in your business, not just managers. This approach will not only reinforce the importance of inclusion to your corporate culture, it will also empower everyone on staff to identify and respond to discriminatory behavior before it can take root or cause further issues.

5. Diversity managers

One of the most proactive measures your business can take is to appoint a company diversity manager -- someone who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing corporate standards regarding diversity, inclusion, and tolerance.

By embracing diversity as a responsibility that requires attention and resources, your business can move from talking about inclusion to actually developing an inclusive and inviting space. Again, citing the Dobbins and Kalev study, businesses that appointed a dedicated diversity manager routinely witnessed a 7 to 18 percent increase in employment across traditionally underrepresented groups.

6. Frequent reassessment

Even if your diversity program is perfect for today, it likely won't be sufficient for tomorrow. Establish set time periods (e.g., quarterly, annually) where you review all of your existing policies and programs for diversity and inclusion.

Has your business introduced any new processes that are unintentionally discriminatory? Have employees embraced training efforts and made inclusion a priority for your culture?

By being proactive and regularly revisiting the topic of diversity, your business can make it clear to employees, customers, and vendors that your business wants to create an open, inviting environment for everyone.

The Next Step

Rather than wasting valuable company resources on diversity programs that are ineffective, take the time to focus your efforts and embrace proven strategies that will have a demonstrated impact.

To learn more about how our diversity and inclusion courses can create a more inviting workplace at your business, request a demo today.

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