When we talk about managing diversity, the reason we use the term “managing” is because it’s an active term — and diversity requires action.
Diversity Versus Inclusion
But more than that, it’s not enough to hire a bunch of employees who are different from one another; as humans, we need to feel included. We want to feel like we’re a part of what’s going on at our organizations, and that our time at work matters. This happens through inclusion.
And inclusion doesn’t just mean involvement; it’s about empowering people. Everyone wants to be excited about their work and to feel useful, and that really gets to the heart of inclusion. On the flip side, without inclusion, you see a negative impact on employee engagement and retention.
As diversity and inclusion expert Verna Myers says, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Diversity matters, but inclusion is really the key.'Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.' - Verna MyersClick To Tweet
When we fail to manage diversity, employee relations issues can arise. Some ways to mitigate these types of issues are:
- Develop clear anti-discrimination policies and enforce them consistently and fairly
- Promptly investigate any complaints by employees
- Learn the art of de-escalation, especially around issues of diversity
These can be emotional concerns, so if you’re in HR, it can go a long way to make sure your team is trained on how to decrease the intensity of conflict, rather than inflame it.
If you do have an employee who comes to you with a concern, it’s so important to not brush it off. When the conflict goes unaddressed, the issue magnifies and intensifies. When a complaint comes in, stop and make sure it’s heard and addressed.
Training and Development
At PayScale, we found in our 2017 Compensation Best Practices Report that 58 percent of employers plan to use L&D (“learning and development”, another term for training and development) programs to retain and recruit employees. Training and development activities can be anything from an informal mentorship program to regular Lunch & Learns to traditional succession planning or formal employee development plans. To return to the workplace currency concept, training and development is a valuable form of workplace currency, and you want to treat it with care.
This is another tool you can use to engage employees, but it’s also a potential area for bias, so pay close attention.
Here are some things you can do right away to begin turning diversity into an asset for your organization:
- Examine your workforce: Who works at your organization? What types of diversity do you already celebrate? Where is there room for improvement?
- Assess your managers’ skillsets: Do they have the capacity to effectively create an inclusive environment? Are they excited about it? Are they allies in this project? If not, is there anything you can do to get them excited about it?
- Review your comp plan: Is it set up in a way that minimizes or eliminates discrimination concerns?
- Explore the forms of workplace currency in place at your organization: Are they set up for success?
Managing diversity isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. Keep up the good work!
Interested in a further deep-dive on diversity? There’s a lot more info in the ebook—grab a copy today!
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