15 ideas to promote diversity in your organization

Promoting diversity and inclusion does not only concern big corporations like Facebook or Lever. The 15 measures we propose will show you why.

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Diversity at the workplace is one of the top priorities of most big companies. There are many studies showing that diversity acts as a boost in areas like talent attraction, innovation, and customer orientation. The problem, though, is how to implement effective programs to promote it.

According to a McKinsey report, 70% of companies with strategies on diversity promotion fail at implementing them. Failing to identify real leaders capable of fostering change, and the rather low priority these actions are given on the field, are often fatal.

At Homuork, we are convinced of the importance of promoting social transformation in an effective way. This is why we have compiled 15 ideas that are being implemented with great results in some of the companies we have the privilege to work with.

Verna Myers – Inclusion Strategist and TED talker, said: “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”. We want to help you turning your team into a bunch of great dancers!

Recruitment and Selection

1. Base your job descriptions on results

 

Some studies have shown that men apply to job positions when they meet 60% of the job’s skill requirements. However, women only apply if they meet 100% of them. Why is that? Well, the cause seems to be their level of self-confidence, which depends on social and cultural factors or, in other words, the negative impact of an unequal socialization. 

In order to avoid this bias of accessm we recommend that you leave aside the long list of skill requirements in your job offers and that you emphasize on the results.  What is to be achieved by the employee in the first 6 months? In a year? It will be easier for applicants to step forward if they think they can make it than if they are scared by a list of skills or previous experiences.

 

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2. Set up blind hiring processes

A great way of minimizing the effect of our unconscious biases is to set up blind hiring processes in which the H&R staff doesn’t have access to the applicants’ personal data (name, photo, birthplace, age, etc.).

This a great method to avoid the impact of unconscious biases and other demonstrated phenomena, like the fact that people with ethnic names need to apply to more job offers to get an answer, or that women are less valued than men with equal skills.

 

3. Question cultural fit as discarding element

When interviewers discard candidates because “they don’t fit with the company’s culture”, there are often hidden reasons they may not even be aware of. This is why it is important that every time a candidate is discarded for this reason, we delve deeper into the matter in order to check whether there could be an unconscious bias in play.  

A similar case made some noise at Harvard University. A group of Asian-American students recently filed a suit against the institution claiming that they were being discriminated in the admission processes.

According to the data extracted from more than 160,000 application forms, their profiles tend to be under-evaluated in features such as positive personality, sympathy or courage. They also brought about documents showing that the university itself had run a study on the matter in 2013, concluding that the unconscious biased existed.

 

4. Use your employee's testimony

Diversity attracts more diversity. Now that workers’ feedback is more and more widely used to attract talent, why not putting your employees from minorities under the spotlight? By sharing their experience within your organization, they might help potential applicants with similar profiles to feel more confortable applying to your job positions.

A great example is this video from Facebook, in which we can see a wide variety ethnical groups happily coexisting in the workplace.

Corporate Culture

 

5. Promote inclusive language

We know it’s been long since we write without taking into account the invisibility of a gender…. But it’s time to put an end to this. Even though it may be hard to get used to it at the beginning, it’s important to promote inclusive language formulae. At Homuork, for instance, we use the underscore to avoid gender when referring to multiple collectives in Spanish:  alumn_s, emplead_s, etc. Try it! People will feel more integrated, because they will actually be so.

 

6. Host or celebrate events related to minorities

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas at your company, but your organization may become more diverse if you add minority-related holidays in your calendar. From Hannukah to the Black History Month, or even the Gay Pride Week, are special days that are being supported by companies such as Oreo, Nike, Mastercard or Expedia, thus recognizing their own religious, racial and sexual orientation diversity.

 

7. Create a channel for diversity and inclusion

The more often these matters are dealt with in your company, the less likely it will be to get involved in scandals like the ones that affected Google or Apple. In this regard, we suggest that you create a channel on diversity and inclusion in the communication tool you often use. It could be a Slack channel, for instance, or any other internal chat tool in which you can share news and good practices.

 

8. Promote internal groups

A great way of raising awareness in the field of diversity and inclusion is to create groups of employees. At Lever, for instance, they have the Leverettes - a female collective, or the LeverHues - an LGTB collective. Creating reading groups or projecting movies are also resources to take into account.

Another good example of this is the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which promotes internal groups known as Diversity Business Resource Groups.  These formal or informal groups are made of members with cultural or ethnical backgrounds, gender or interests in common. The activities they carry out include mentoring, networking and professional development.

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9. It creates programs of mentorización

According to the Spanish Center of Sociological Studies, 80,4% of people who have ever felt discriminated at the workplace in Spain, were so for age-related reasons.  If on top of this we take into account that the millennial generation feels a lack of leadership in their organizations, mentoring programs sound like a very good idea. Training your staff is crucial to keep it motivated, that’s why we developed the online course: “Managing millennials and age diversity”.

 

10. Encourage your leaders to join the dialogue

Like I said at the beginning of this article, there are many cases in which the lack of leadership is the cause of failure when it comes to diversity and inclusion strategies.

When I say “leaders” I do not necessarily mean the people on top of the organization’s hierarchy, so it is crucial to know how to spot them and get them involved in this type of initiatives.

Bear in mind that leading change is one of the toughest tasks an organization can undertake, so try to think of the appropriate rewards for the people you’ve chosen. Even though the initial motivation is a key element, you cannot rely on that all along the process.

 

Day to day at the workplace

11. Try using the "Robin Technique" in meetings

It’s very likely that you’ve been in more than one meeting in which only the voice of 2 or 3 people was being listened to. Women, Asian people or simply any shy person will be less prone to sharing their views, and this is clearly a loss of potential insights that could be very useful to your company.  

In order to avoid this, we suggest that you put the Robin Technique into practice: organizing meetings by rounds in which each and every attendant is entitled to either speak up or skip his/her turn.

 

12. Highlight any interruption that may occur

Many studies show that mansplaining is a reality. Women’s views and opinions are recurrently silenced or interrupted by their male co-workers.

This first step to get rid of this unfair and discriminatory phenomenon is to point out at those who contribute to it, right when it happens. Without accusing or punishing, but rather in an explanatory approach that paves the way towards a more diverse company.

 

13. Offer higher flexibility to your staff

The nine-to-six schedule may not be the most convenient for everyone. In fact, it bears quite a few difficulties for employees with children or in charge of them. That’s why offering a flexible schedule and giving the option of working from home is a great way of promoting better working environments.

 

Training & Self-awareness

14. Use the implicit-association test

How many times have you heard someone saying: “I’m not a racist, but…”? We all tend to a certain level of unconscious biases and hidden prejudices that shape our actions.

In order to solve a problem, the first step is become aware of it. That’s why we suggest that you invite your employees to take this implicit-association test, which is totally anonymous and quickly completed. The results might surprise you!

 

15. Train your staff in diversity and inclusion

Be it as complement to all the ideas we have just mentioned or as a first step, training your team in diversity and inclusion is fundamental. You’ll give the staff the necessary knowledge to act exemplarily and will open the door for them to come up with genuine initiatives.

At Homuork, we have a catalogue of online courses on: “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace”, “Unconscious Bias and Gender Equality”, “Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” and “Managing Millennials and Age Diversity”.

If you want to learn more, let us know here.

 

Diversity in the workplace makes its way

Like you saw all along this article, there are plenty of aspects that we can easily fine-tune to improve the diversity and the inclusion in our companies. By doing so, we can achieve healthier and more innovative working environments in which the people who conform them feel free to develop up to their full potential. The ball is in your field now… With which ideas are you going to start?

Alberto Peñalba

Alberto Peñalba

Marketing Manager