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Top Three Effective Diversity and Inclusion Levers for Lasting Impact

 Top Three Effective Diversity and Inclusion Levers for Lasting Impact

Diversity & Inclusion

Talent is what drives organizations forward. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are what ensure you have access to that talent. Diversity of thought, experience, and perspective bring depth to your teams; inclusive practices ensure those diverse perspectives are heard. And these diverse voices are precisely what we need in the workplace to help tackle the challenges that come with our increasingly complex world. Doing the same thing, with similar people is a recipe for unremarkable results.

By promoting diversity in the workplace, you create a strong and talented workforce capable of tackling the challenges all organizations face in this increasingly complex and technologically advanced world. Consider AI, which is top of mind right now. Navigating the innumerable efficiencies it brings, while figuring out how to manage the potential threats it creates, requires cutting edge thinking. These sorts of challenges are best answered through diversity and inclusion initiatives that bring together a group of people who see the issues from different perspectives and thus generate robust, powerful solutions.


Three Levers for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Attract, Train, Retain

Organizations have three levers they can pull to find the talented and diverse workforce they need: They can widen their talent searches and bring more candidates into their pipeline.

They can use training and development to create the specialized talent they need. They can also nurture talent within their organization, offering internal candidates the opportunity to upskill and progress to new roles. To build a diverse pipeline full of talented people and then train and retain them starts with assessing company policies using a diversity and inclusion lens. The Best Workplaces™ for Inclusion do this on a regular basis and their returns on this effort are significant. With over 24,000 employee responses collected here are some results from these Best Workplaces:

96% of employees agree they are treated fairly regardless of their age, race or ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

94% say they can be themselves.

93% are proud to tell others they work there.

92% say that taking everything into account, there’s is a great place to work.

Their diversity and inclusion initiatives are clearly working. Here are some practical tips to help you get started on your diversity journey.


ATTRACT - Increase the scope of your talent search

To widen the talent pool at your workplace, diversify your pipeline. Rather than passively waiting for diverse candidates to come to you, proactively source talent from underrepresented groups. Take a look at how you are recruiting people, be aware of unconscious bias, and understand the demographics of your current and potential workforce. If you want to widen your horizons you need to know your starting point, and assembling an inclusive slate of candidates before interviews is one step towards eliminating bias in the search for talent.

  • Do you have gaps in representation that you’d like to fill?
  • Are there particular groups you’d like to target?
  • Do you have unnecessary requirements in your job ads like an undergraduate degree that needlessly limit your talent pool?
  • Are there unconscious biases holding you back from reaching a broad scope of candidates?

Remember to set goals during this process – what gets measured, gets done! For instance, commit to sourcing five candidates from underrepresented groups for each job posting, or partner with two different recruitment sources, or send a certain percentage of employees to unconscious bias training per quarter.

Representation matters during the recruiting process as well. People want to see themselves represented within a company before they join. As thrilling as being a maverick might be for some, paving the way for everyone else is not a role most people relish. Help people see themselves as a thriving member of your team before they even accept a position with you.

  • Have diversity on your hiring team.
  • Ensure interview panels are diverse and balanced and that hiring decisions are equally collaborative.
  • Encourage interviewers to challenge opinions or decisions that they feel may be rooted in unconscious bias.


TRAIN - Create the talent you need

Sourcing a diverse group of job candidates with the most in-demand skills and abilities is important. It’s equally important to invest time in evolving your current workforce. This means ensuring that all of your people have access to regular upskilling and reskilling to stay on top of future challenges. Equitable access to continuous learning and professional development help to promote diversity in the workplace so you can unlock the full potential of your people and preserve the diversity you have worked hard to create.

  • Do your diversity numbers change as you move up the organizational hierarchy?
  • Are some departments and functions more or less diverse than others?
  • Do some training programs or courses have different participation rates within different demographic groups?

Begin to look at your training and development programs with an eye toward diversity and inclusion initiatives. The goal is to ensure these processes are working well for everyone and that everyone feels they can grow within the organization and achieve their career goals. If an employee isn’t finding success in their role, are they in the right role, do they have the necessary skills, do they have sufficient support to succeed? These are gaps that a robust and inclusive training program can fill.

  • Create career maps that clearly outline the different options for lateral and promotional career progression. The more accessible career goals feel, the higher the likelihood people will work to achieve them.
  • Meet regularly to discuss internal talent and identify people with leadership potential. As with hiring decisions, make sure these decisions are made by a diverse group of people who are paying attention to inherent bias.
  • Consider ‘blind’ tools that objectively match internal candidates to development opportunities. This helps to eliminate bias and provides truly equal opportunity.
  • Hire or recruit diverse trainers who can speak to specific needs. The more familiar learners feel with the training content, the more engaged they will be.


RETAIN - Unlock the full potential of the talent you have.

Retention is all about culture. A commitment to diversity and inclusion also means a company culture that cares about its people. You can recruit and train the most diverse talent but ultimately it is their decision to stay. That’s why being inclusive matters so much. People need to know they are seen and appreciated. They need to feel respected. Everyday behaviour that demonstrates you value all of your people really moves the needle and creates a great workplace for all.

  • Listen to employees. Find out what they want and need, and then deliver.
  • Provide mentoring and sponsorship that is inclusive. Recruit a diverse set of mentors that can connect with various people and monitor for success. As part of this, it is imperative that your leadership reflect the diversity you want within the organization as a whole.
  • Establish and leverage employee resource groups to ensure your culture is inclusive. These groups can provide insights into how to drive diversity hiring and training initiatives and they are a fantastic resource within which people can share, learn and grow.

Your talent is your business and your diverse talent will propel your business forward. To realize the full benefits of a diverse workforce, leaders should approach inclusion and diversity with the same discipline and rigor as any other business priority. Set goals, collect data, share results, and commit to continuously improve. Diversity and inclusion initiatives need to be at the core of everyone’s consciousness, in every decision and every day. This is the best and most effective way to ensure everyone brings their best, unique self to work which maximizes the power of diverse perspectives within the workplace.

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Nancy Fonseca
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