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Workplace diversity offers numerous benefits to companies, including increased profitability and longer-term value creation. Equality is an important topic for companies and society, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Supporting efforts promoting diversity is essential, and taking steps inside your own company is an important start. As the co-founder of a higher-education coding program, I’ve seen the importance of prioritizing a diverse community. I believe all business leaders can strive to make their companies as inclusive and free-of-discrimination as possible.
Why Diversity Matters
Gender and ethnicity might come to your mind when thinking of diversity, and though that’s definitely part of the equation, the definition is much broader. Diversity comes in a variety forms, such as differing socioeconomic, academic and professional backgrounds, as well as varying religions, national origins, sexual orientations and mental and physical abilities — and even this is not a fully comprehensive list.
As a business owner, I believe there is more to diversity than social imperative. Diverse teams tend to perform better. A 2018 study found that public companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 33% more likely to have financial returns above the industry average and 21% when it comes to gender diversity. In my experience, members of diverse teams have different ways of approaching problems and offer new analytical skills. This leads to stronger products and services, which can then serve a wider range of customers.
From a tech perspective specifically, if your team lacks diversity and is building software or artificial intelligence, a bias could occur. Just this past year services that use word-embedding, such as translating software, faced scrutiny for displaying gender biases.
Six Steps To Hiring A Diverse Team
1. Act from day one.
Whether you’re building a new company or a new team, keep diversity in mind from day one. In my experience, many companies rely on referrals from current employees for recruiting. Small non-diverse teams, therefore, would grow into larger non-diverse teams; conversely, small diverse teams can grow into large diverse teams. The larger the non-diverse team grows, I believe the issue becomes harder to solve.
2. Send the right signals to recruits.
It’s important to keep in mind the message you’re projecting when potential hires are considering your company. The vocabulary of job descriptions, for example, could influence who applies because of a bias that’s represented on the listing. When you’re listing the open position, use neutral titles, and make sure there are no gendered pronouns. Instead of using “he” or “she,” simply write the title of the position or use a non-gender-specific description, such as “they.”
3. Remove bias from the recruiting process.
It isn’t uncommon for companies to have an unfair recruiting process. This is why it’s crucial that as business leaders, you institute a process that minimizes bias and focuses on what matters: skills. You can start by ensuring your hiring team doesn’t have any unnecessary information that could lead to bias, such as pictures, names, gender or age. Include a diverse group of interviewers for every candidate, and you could even take things one step further by using a service that changes the voice of candidates on the phone to sound more neutral.
4. Look for diverse sources of talent.
Making sure your team is diverse also means looking for alternative sources of talent. Don’t recruit from the same small group of universities attended by the founders or senior executives. Look into college alternatives that focus on diversity, as well as nonprofit organizations that train and advocate for underrepresented communities. In my experience, institutions such as these often focus on providing students with real-world industry skills.
5. Accommodate needs, and offer flexibility.
Make your workplace inclusive. Work is a huge part of our life, and I believe your employees’ growing desire for flexibility should no longer be ignored. Consider allowing flexible working hours and giving your team the option to work from home when necessary. If you’re able, provide comprehensive health insurance, paternity and maternity leave and private rooms for nursing mothers. Offer gender-neutral bathrooms, and opt for office decor that makes everyone feel at home.
6. Ensure diversity exists at every level.
Finally, do not only consider diversity at the global scale; aim for diversity within all positions. In my experience, leadership is especially critical because it can have a strong influence on team morale and retainment, as well as the output of the company. Because your leadership team will highly influence the rest of the company, make sure that you have diversity at this level.
If you work on these six points, I believe you’ll be in a good position to begin diversifying your workforce. The result is well worth your effort.
March 6, 2019 at 08:58AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs