To save time and avoid potential perceived problems (in other words, problems you kind of think might maybe, potentially, sort-of arise), you might be inclined to build your team solely out of like-minded people that have as many things in common as possible. You can be all in favour of diversity, but think it is too much trouble to build one within your organisation. Well, here is the reason why you should reconsider: diversity in a company encourages a whole variety of perspectives during brainstorming and decision-making, it grants access to a wider audience (think larger client base), and even increases productivity. Therefore it is not only a “feel good” thing, it also makes business sense. When done properly, that is.
Check Your Policies
Diversity sounds like a subject for HR, but it is not. It should be a part of the company culture, not just an HR strategy. That being stated, HR is a good place to start. All your personnel policies regarding recruitment, raises and promotions should be based on employee’s performance. Their position within the company, age, sex, nationality or ethnic background should not play a role in your HR policies. Once you have put strong policies of equality in place, you can implement diversity measures throughout the company.
On the other hand, beware of the idea that treating everyone the same way constitutes equality. For example, you organise a team-building event that involves climbing, even though one of your employees has recently undergone a knee surgery and another one has paralysing fear of heights. This could be seen as a sign of insensitivity and make the two employees in question feel left out. Keep in mind that treating people fairly means also respecting the differences that make them who they are.
Be Conscious About Your Hiring Process
It goes without saying that you should measure the qualification of the candidate by their skills, experience and attitude rather than age, religious or political views, or even temperament traits such as introversion or extroversion. What you should also look for in your potential new hires is cultural awareness. Someone who is confident about their own way of doing things, but at the same time open to and appreciative of different ideas and approaches will be aninvaluable ally in your strive for diversity.
Treat Complaints Seriously
Assure your employees that you want to hear about all cases of potential favouritism or discrimination, and work out a solid manual for investigating and dealing with these situations. No matter how much effort you invest in the diversity training, you will probably encounter some issues sooner or later. Some of your employees will feel like they are being treated unfairly, others will treat people unfairly, and then people will not care much about your diversity policies. Your best bet in such situations is to have an open door policy. Make yourself available for discussions about workplace issues. Not only will your employees feel better about their work environment when they see that you listen to their concerns, but it will also give you some ideas about how to improve diversity in your organisation. Veronika Bacova