By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I'd really like my organization to get better at attracting and hiring more diverse applicants and then expanding our inclusion efforts to ensure our new hires are successful. Do you have any suggestions to help us with our diversity and inclusion strategy?
A: In our ever-changing world, organizations know that to be successful they must attract and retain the best talent, which means taking full advantage of the wide pool of applicants available in today's global marketplace. Smart organizations seek out candidates who have differing viewpoints, who come from different parts of the world, and who represent a mix of backgrounds and generations.
To get started, be sure you have a commitment to diversity and inclusion from your leadership. This is key to any successful organizational change. If you need to make the case that you should focus on D+I in recruiting staff and managing your team, let your leaders know that diversity and inclusion help increase productivity, help you attract and retain talent, and can give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
To hire a diverse workforce, you must "cast a wide net" for applicants. This means recruiting in places you may not have looked before. You need to research possible sources, network, and establish new relationships so word gets out that your organization is actively seeking diverse applicants. Consider listing your position on job boards that focus on diversity, such as diversityjobs.com or minorityjobsite.com.
Your organization has to be a place where uniqueness of beliefs, backgrounds, talents, capabilities, and ways of living are welcomed and leveraged for learning and informing better decision making.
Don't overlook your own workforce. Ask your current employees for ideas on where to go to find diverse candidates. You'll probably get some good ideas from them.
It's not enough to hire a diverse workforce—your organization has to be a place where uniqueness of beliefs, backgrounds, talents, capabilities, and ways of living are welcomed and leveraged for learning and informing better decision making. This is the inclusion part of the equation.
Your organization needs to welcome people who think, look, or behave differently from others and create an environment where they are valued and empowered to contribute. You can nurture such a culture by creating cross-functional teams, doing team-building activities, and encouraging conversations to facilitate learning about each other.
Inclusion practices need to be integrated into your communication strategies, career and professional development initiatives, recruitment efforts, and overall leadership and management practices. In other words, D+I can't be seen as a "program" but must become part of your organization's DNA.
The payoff from a diverse and inclusive workforce is huge, so be the spark your organization needs to get started or to go beyond where you are today!
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]
The following articles on diversity and inclusion are available to ASAE members on asaecenter.org: