Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Picture your company thriving. You have a marketing team building successful efforts to reach out to new markets.

Your sales staff has more acquisitions and retentions than "saves" when things go south. You've become a place where people want to work and your employees are your best source for new hires. Your bottom line is the source of a lot of smiles at your quarterly and annual meetings.

If this sounds like a company you want to run and be a part of, then it's time to explore the benefits of diversity in the workplace. We sat down with Risha Grant, a workplace diversity consultant in Oklahoma and the founder of DiversityConnex, to talk about the importance of workplace diversity—and how your company can get started on the right foot when creating diversity-centric programs.

How successful workplace diversity programs begin

"When talking about diversity," says Grant, "you have to make sure that inclusion is a part of the conversation." Grant goes on to explain that diversity is who we are—not only our gender, sexuality, race, age but also our hairstyles, clothing, and eating choices. Inclusion is how we bring all of our differences together to create the value and competitive advantages that companies strive for. Successful workplace diversity programs begin with the lessons we knew when we were five years old: don't call people names, and treat others as you'd want to be treated.

The benefits of workplace diversity

When you're creating an environment where people are treating others as they'd want to be treated, you're miles ahead of your competition. "Diversity programs create environments that foster competitive advantage, innovation, and economic advancement," says Grant. "Additionally, studies show that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers and create significantly higher earnings and returns on equity."

The biggest benefit for employees? They realize they're working towards a common goal for a company where their ideas and skills are valued equally alongside their mental well-being.

The key to successful workplace diversity programs

So what's the key to creating, implementing, and sustaining a diversity program in your business? According to Grant, success starts at the top. "A strong diversity initiative demands the support of the CEO and senior management," she says. Without ownership and management leading the way, programs are doomed to fail. Grant recommends that upper management or ownership communicate the importance of the programs and lead by example.

Three keys to helping your workplace diversity program survive and thrive

Ready to take an inclusive stance for your business and create an environment designed to thrive? Grant has these three tips for creating a successful workplace diversity program from the get-go:

  1. Banish bias. We all come to work every day with years of learned biases backing up our behavior. Education, discussion, and inclusion can help break down biases and create more successful diversity initiatives.
  2. Be intentional. Make a conscious effort in your hiring practices to be inclusive of all people. Use recruiting methods that fall outside of your regular practices.
  3. Zero tolerance. There is no other way for a diversity program to thrive than through a hardline stance. While intolerance, bigotry, and bias won't be welcome, you can still ensure your employees feel the work environment is open to discussions based on diversity and inclusion.


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