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How to Launch a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative at Your Small Company

If your small company has yet to introduce any sort of diversity and inclusion initiatives, it’s missing an opportunity for both business growth, and, more importantly, moral growth. All across the country (and beyond), organizations are taking steps to encourage and ensure equal treatment and opportunities for any and all demographics that may be involved.

School programs like diversity and inclusion in interscholastic sports, competing clubs and other organizations are heavily pushed, and have been for some time, but businesses are following suit, and it’s proving to be as good for the bottom line as it is for positive growth among personnel.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives really allow for companies to utilize all of the skills and strengths of their potential workforces. From different races, ages, cultural backgrounds, religions, genders, sexualities, veteran statuses, family statuses, learning styles, teaching styles, languages, and more, there is certainly something to be gained from everyone at your company that you simply may never know exists without a streamlined diversity and inclusion plan.

Here are some tips on how to institute one in your business.

Research

When most of us hear the phrase “diversity in the workplace,” we think about ethnicity, race and gender first, but when it comes to inclusion, learning styles and teaching styles are also proving to be very helpful bits of information in regard to the fair treatment of employees and maximization of their given skills and styles.

It’s important to look at local statistics and demographics to see what your potential hiring pool may be able to bring to the table in regard to diversity and inclusion. If you happen to realize that your own employee base is not very demographically reflective of the area you live in, there’s a chance that unintentional implicit bias played a role during hiring processes, and hiring to match that locale is also an important part of a successful diversity campaign.

Company culture

Taking some time to determine what your company culture is, and what you would like it to be (or need it to be in regard to inclusion), is as important a step as researching demographics. Akin to the win-win that is a diversity and inclusion initiative, corporate social responsibility is a company’s willingness to support and participate in local, societal practices that help people and progress in the communities where they do business. Again, the moral side of CSR makes it a great thing regardless of money, but data has shown that it is also good for business … another win-win.

To really get your employees on board with a diversity and inclusion initiative, laying out a plan (and hearing the ideas of your staff) to increase community involvement and help improve the lives of your customer base will add a lot of weight when you start discussions on diversity and inclusion. In other words, creating a company culture that actively works to serve a diverse customer base will also help it serve and develop a more diverse workforce.

Some other ways to promote an inclusive company culture are doing things like holding “holiday parties” and allowing flexible religious vacations for those who may not celebrate Christmas, or even U.S. holidays like Columbus Day.  

Implementation

Given the research and a defined company culture, your team should be ready to become inclusive in nature, and ready to follow your lead. Re-evaluation and upgrading of company policies and practices that may have unintentionally inhibited employees’ skills or abilities is a concrete, visible way to start your initiative. Even if it’s as small as an email, showing appreciation for, and even celebrating, any and all events that affect your team members is another great move that’s easy to implement.

Taking it a step further and having trainings on things like black history, communicative diversity, and different personality types and how to communicate with them will really get the ball rolling. Extending these messages beyond the internal workings to things like social media and public events (coinciding with CSR), really prove that diversity and inclusion are important parts of how you want to run your business.

Allowing for open feedback regarding the initiatives is also extremely important, as leaving someone out defeats the whole purpose. Diversity and inclusion initiatives should, indeed, be team-based, as the ultimate goal is to grow as a unit and respect and utilize differences. Weekly discussions about cultural differences help people learn together, and a team that learns together succeeds together.

Once the company culture really starts to feed off of the new skills and styles learned due to the initiatives, it’s time to take that knowledge and apply it to your business objectives. Going as far as changing a mission statement to include verbiage that your diverse workforce aims to serve a diverse customer base shouldn’t be disingenuous if, indeed, the above steps are being taken seriously and frequently.

Measurability is also important when you’re first starting your initiative, and being able to create something that shows your team concrete instances of what diversity and inclusion are doing for the company will certainly help with the sell. Externally, being able to provide quotes and feedback from community members and organizations who benefited from community outreach and inclusion initiatives help check this box. If said initiatives involved some sort of fundraising or other measurable outcomes, share an email with the team showcasing everything that was accomplished and how much money was raised.

Internally, rewarding team members for going above and beyond with trainings and other accomplishments related to diversity and inclusion will encourage everyone else to follow suit, and will also help any skeptics realize that you’re taking inclusion and diversity very seriously.

Growth

As mentioned a few times, the icing on the morality cake that is diversity and inclusion is generally an increase in bottom line and growth. As your company begins to build its reputation as a diverse workforce that treats all members equally and empowers them to share their differences, a more diverse and skilled workforce will be looking at your business as a destination to shine. Diversity should certainly be part of the process for new hires as well as promotions.

Similar to the early steps that involve determining your societal demographics, ensuring your managerial positions are filled by an equally diverse group of individuals is a must if you want to be taken seriously as an inclusive company with a worldly culture. Many companies say they support diversity and inclusion, and then a photo of the executive suite members comes out in an email and questions start to arise about how serious those companies actually are about empowering everyone equally.

None of this will happen overnight, but with equality being part of every conversation on the news and being implemented everywhere in the public eye, the time to start your initiative is right now.

 

Read more: business.com

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Written by WHS

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