Making the Case for Diversity and Inclusion: Strategies and Tactical Approaches
by Luanne Ramsey
As a former diversity leader, this topic is something I am very passionate about. My definition of diversity is everything that makes us “different” from others, such as race, gender, values, work styles, communication styles and characteristics. I define inclusion as recognizing the importance and value of bringing together individuals and their different perspectives in our various workplace processes.
Achieving sustained success requires the highest possible quality and most effective workforce and workplace. Anything less leaves superior business results to chance. Business success is about moving beyond inclusion and building intercultural competence. Employees can “buy in” to the value of building a culture that supports diversity.
Thus, diversity and inclusion need to be a core business strategy. Your company can begin a systematic approach by:
Solidifying support from the CEO and senior leaders.
Assessing the current culture in the organization and the readiness to change.
Outlining the strategies to align the key business objectives and overall goals of the organization.
Measuring Diversity Preparedness and Readiness:
Once organizations realize the importance of addressing diversity, they must ask the following question: How do we determine our current status related to diversity?
Develop and administer a customized employee cultural assessment survey. By making the survey available to all employees, they are more likely to be accepting of the findings. Use the survey tool in conjunction with one-on-one interviews and focus groups.
Focus on building awareness by building understanding and encouraging reflection.
Develop a vision of inclusion which defines the direction change.
Rethink key management concepts and principles to match new vision.
Plan for action oriented-integration which translates the principles, vision, and competencies into observable and measureable behavior. (This leads to fostering development and reinforces the vision and principles.)
Tactics (involve all business units or departments):
Create visible displays throughout the organization showcasing all areas of diversity.
Establish Affinity Groups.
Hold monthly celebrations/events embracing diverse groups.
Establish diversity lunch/learn programs.
Produce a monthly newsletter geared to recognizing efforts and highlighting diversity initiatives or programs.
Provide on-going communication on the company intranet around upcoming events that encourage employees to participate.
Establish a listening post through the use of the employee survey to understand where the organization is with building acceptance and understanding among groups.
Develop exchange programs to foster key learning competencies with your global workforce.
Encourage job sharing and job shadowing across geographies.
Establish learning programs that are varied to accommodate different learning styles.
Develop programs focusing on cross generational workforce awareness and work styles to promote interdependence and acceptance.
Compensate employees for volunteering efforts with community outreach programs and groups.
Edit current policies regarding benefits to ensure all employee populations are represented and offered equal coverage plans.
Establish recruiting/retention affiliations in diverse communities.
Hold Diversity Job Fairs for all levels, quarterly.
Create internships through partnerships with minority higher learning institutions to attract and build hiring pools.
Design ESL programs for the diverse talent pools hired to assist in communication and build on assimilation.
Develop benchmarks for utilizing vendors that are minority-owned. Determine your spend goals, set the targets, and evaluate the results.
In my experience, these are some of the best practices to enhance the acceptance of diversity and inclusion. I am sure there are many more that you and your team will be able to brainstorm that will work for your specific company. You may also gain insight into the best tools from your employee survey.
Diversity initiatives build trust and perceptions of trust. With trust comes engagement and with engagement comes retention. Furthermore, retaining staff keeps our labor costs down, serves our customers with continuity and overall experience bottom line impact to business outcomes.
Can your organization afford not to pursue D&I initiatives? Consider not just the dollars attached to the outcomes, but consider the integrity of our moral obligations to work towards excellence in this space.
Luanne Ramsey is the Business Development Manager for The Rosen Group. Luanne came to The Rosen Group in February 2008 with a unique background as both a staffing and human resources professional. She has nine years of experience in the global staffing industry–including experience as a Senior Recruiter, Staffing Manager, Branch Manager, and Business Development and Sales Manager. A seasoned HR Professional, Luanne has held leadership roles from Generalist, Employee Relations, and HR Manager to Business Partner for Global Medical, Pharmaceutical Organizations.
© 2009, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.