Making Your Workplace More Diverse and Inclusive
Many business owners may claim to aim for diversity in their hiring, and many businesses may
claim to value inclusion. However, this rhetoric doesn’t always accurately reflect reality.
Business owners need to go a step further than giving a nod to diversity in their language about their business. They need to be intentional about diversity as a priority, understand the real value of diversity, and implement effective strategies for recruiting a more diverse workforce.
*But, what is diversity?
Diversity is the inclusion of a range of people from different backgrounds. It is the representation of varying physical and mental disabilities, genders, sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds, religions and ethnicities.
Why is diversity important?
There are several reasons why workplaces ought to aim for diversity in their hiring. On a
practical level, it’s helpful for business owners to work on eradicating possible biases,
unconscious or not, in the hiring process. This will allow them to recruit from a broader spectrum of qualified candidates, and access talent they might otherwise have missed. Another practical reason for having a diverse workforce is that it makes a company better able to craft products and services to appeal to a diverse audience. Plus, a more diverse workforce tends to be a more innovative and productive workforce.
Contributing to your community...
Hiring with diversity in mind also is a way entrepreneurs can give back to the community, by
increasing opportunities for those who might otherwise not access them. This is a great way you can help build a community that is itself diverse, with an array of different opportunities for all individuals. And this is part of the path to a more just and equitable future.
Where do I start?
Start by assessing your company’s current diversity.
You need to be realistic about your business as it presently stands. Look at the hiring process
you use to see whether there are any built-in biases or deficiencies. Assess the present
demographic makeup of your employee pool. If there is a lack of diversity and representation,
this doesn’t mean you’ve specifically done anything wrong. It does mean that you need to be
more deliberate and aware, however.
Identify key areas where you want to improve.
Building a diverse workforce has to be a step-by-step process, if it’s going to happen organically and if new hires are going to integrate well into the company. Think about how you can fill key roles in the future.
For instance, look at how many women-identifying or non-binary individuals you have on your teams. If these groups are underrepresented, make a point of doing better. If you need resources to help open up more inclusive spaces for women and genderfluid or non-
binary persons in the creative fields, get in touch with Women Connect. Also consider diversity in areas of race, ethnicity, religion, educational background, age, and ability. It can also help to increase diversity in terms of social class and to include veterans in your diversity pool.
Make sure your workplace is an inclusive environment.
For your workforce to be truly diverse, and for diversity to be sustainable, you need to go
beyond the hiring process and focus on developing a workplace culture, too. Diverse team
members should feel at home and welcome in your workplace. This means creating accessible
options for team members with disabilities. It also means prioritising safety for all employees,
making sure no one is subjected to harassment, bullying, or discrimination on the job. Company culture should aim to be more inclusive in terms of things like celebrating holidays and respecting persons’ preferred pronouns. Also consider using non-gendered facilities, to not exclude for non-binary or trans individuals.
Some individuals simply have not had the opportunities to build up their resume or to access
training, but are still talented and creative, with much to offer a company. Disabled persons,
immigrants, and seniors may sometimes get passed over for work because they’ve had fewer
opportunities. You can help make up the gap by creating mentorship relationships within your
business, so new hires from under-represented demographics will gain the resources to be competitive in the job market.
Mentorship programs can also help younger, less advantaged team members develop healthy habits and follow the lead of positive role models. Greater inclusivity is worth pursuing for a myriad of reasons, and implementing it is something that requires effort in all areas of business, beginning with hiring.
Sustaining a diverse and inclusive workplace may mean taking new initiatives and moving in new directions - and it is guaranteed to be worth it.
Photo Credits: Daniel Oluwatobi