Diversity in Leadership-Part III – How to Establish & Manage a Diverse Workplace Culture

How to Establish and Manage a Diverse Workplace Culture

Currently, women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, while people of color account for 36% (American Progress). These numbers have grown steadily over the years, showing that, as a country, we are making progress toward greater diversity in the workplace, although of course we still have work to do.

However, the numbers at the C-suite level don’t look as good. As of April 2020, women held only 25% of total S&P 500 executive positions and a paltry seven companies had a female CEO. Racial and ethnic leadership diversity numbers were even worse. Racially diverse executives held only 16% of total S&P 500 C-suite positions, only 16 companies had non-white CEOs, and only four companies had non-white CFOs (Cooley PubCo).

In this last article about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we’ll build on the information presented in the last two, which covered the DEI movement in general and the benefits of a diverse workforce and specifically diverse corporate leadership. This article will explore how to establish and manage a diverse, inclusive culture in your organization.

Attracting Diverse Candidates

Finding diverse candidates requires you to source from diverse talent pools. To accomplish this objective, you need to advertise through specific channels that target underrepresented talent and post job listings on the right types of job boards and platforms. You might also want to consider offering apprenticeships or scholarships specifically for female, older, younger, and/or minority candidates (TalentLyft).

Hiring for Diversity

If your workforce isn’t as diverse as you would like, you probably need to establish different hiring practices. Hiring a diverse leadership team may take a bit longer to find the right candidates but the rewards are many. In the words of Henry Ford, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Consider taking the following steps (Forbes):

  • Avoid language that communicates bias on job descriptions.
  • Block out identifying information on resumes that indicates age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.
  • Appoint a diverse hiring committee.
  • Track company diversity so you can establish specific diversity targets.
  • Intentionally select for diversity among equally qualified candidates.

Promoting from within to build a strong and diverse leadership team is an optimal way to building a truly diverse organizational structure and employee base. Diverse leadership will further promote a diverse workforce.

Building Inclusivity

The best way to manage a diverse workforce is to institute fully equitable practices such as compensation, benefits, etc. To build inclusivity, start at the executive level, who will model the roadmap that will trickle down to the rest of the team. Leaders need to model empathy and acceptance for all employees and ensure their inner circle — the “trusted few” — is not made up of people who all fit the same mold (Workplace Solutions). Additionally, teambuilding exercises, inclusivity training, and get-to-know-you social events that celebrate everyone’s differences go a long way toward building a cohesive team. To improve on these events, ask your employees for their thoughts on what they would like to see. Make your company a safe place to express ideas and concerns, and implement their suggestions where possible (Workplace Solutions).

Altering a company culture takes time and concerted efforts. Taking the necessary steps to establish your company as a DEI leader in your industry will provide many benefits, including a broader and more competent pool of candidates as you continue to recruit for growth.