Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are often mentioned in the same sentence, because an inclusive organization can't exist without a diverse workforce. And an organization must be inclusive in order to retain its diverse staff. It takes a comprehensive effort and continued investment over years to attract, hire, develop and retain a diverse workforce while building an inclusive culture.
Here's a quick reference guide for setting up a successful diversity and inclusion program:
Get leadership buy-in.
The CEO and other company leaders are the most visible spokespeople for diversity. Leadership support is needed to ensure diversity and inclusion efforts receive the appropriate attention, funding and monitoring. Leaders also provide daily examples for employees by exhibiting inclusive behaviors, managing their own bias as they call on others to do so as well and supporting a culture that empowers all employees to do their best work.
Define diversity and inclusion at your company.
The best diversity programs are tied to a company's business strategy, are aligned with company values and have achievable goals. It will take planning and teamwork to analyze each unique situation, set a vision for an appropriate and effective D&I program and then break it down into action steps.
[Related: What Is Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging?]
Create D&I benchmarks.
An initial diversity analysis should include gathering data on your current employee population and comparing it to relevant benchmarks. Look at the diversity among your overall employee population first, then analyze by each step in the employee lifecycle, including the candidate pool, hiring, employee performance reviews, promotions, compensation and turnover. Examining diversity measures by department and management level will help pinpoint necessary areas for training and help decide where to set more aggressive recruiting goals as appropriate.
Pro tip: The key to using benchmarks is knowing the available audience for a given employee group. For example, it's not realistic to expect gender parity in a field like engineering, where only 18-20% of engineering graduates are female. That said, beware of the falsehood that there is a lack of diverse talent. Diversity benchmarks should also attempt to reflect the local market, which may be more or less diverse than national averages.
Enlist a diversity advocate.
Most large organizations have a head of diversity or other individual who is responsible and accountable for the D&I program. This individual may or may not be from a minority group; the best person for the job has relevant experience and a deep interest in improving the organization's success through enabling D&I to flourish in the workplace. A successful advocate will be skilled at building relationships throughout the organization and ensuring accountability on D&I goals.
Be transparent about where you are with diversity.
Share your company's data and goals internally. Because the data may need to be gathered from various systems, it can be difficult to keep track of current diversity benchmarks (especially since the population is changing faster than 10-year U.S. Census increments). Consider enlisting outside expert help; many firms offer diversity-enabling products and consulting services that help ease the burden of data management and analysis. Strong leaders are driven by metrics, so having reliable diversity metrics in place and updated regularly in a readily accessible dashboard will go a long way toward ensuring the success of your D&I program.
Expand your hiring pool.
To ease the stigma of "Affirmative Action hiring," focus on creating a more diverse hiring pool, and then objectively evaluating candidates from this expanded pool. Start posting in diversity-oriented job groups, partner with diversity organizations, and connect with diversity-oriented groups at universities. Also consider expanding your college recruiting to more diverse schools.
Commit to a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Diversity is a journey, not a place. Improving representation of diverse groups within a given company can take years. Leaders, managers and staff should be patient and persistent but resolute as they embark upon this journey. But like all good things worth achieving, it's worth the wait. Commit to the journey, and be inspired by the examples of other companies that have reaped the rewards of making D&I part of their DNA and overall success.
Help build a more equitable workplace today. Show candidates your initiatives and goals that advocate for a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace with a new section on your Glassdoor profile dedicated to D&I. Update Now >