Businesses have started to recognize diversity in the workplace as a business strategy that maximizes productivity, creativity and loyalty of employees while meeting the needs of their clients or customers. If a company is only as good as their employees, then it stands to reason that a great deal of energy should be devoted to hiring the most talented individuals. By branching out to a diverse workforce, employers have access to a greater pool of candidates thereby improving the odds of hiring the best person. In a competitive marketplace, an organization that puts people first – regardless of their race, religion, gender, age, sexual preference, or physical disability has an advantage over the other players.
Just as the workforce is becoming more diverse so is your market. Employees who mirror the customers you serve can benefit an organization since they will feel as if they hold a common ground. Furthermore, employees with different perspectives can help provide companies with a holistic view of the market, identify unmet needs and identify new opportunities. As the value of diversity continues to grow in the business community and elsewhere, recruiting and retaining diverse employees is becoming even more important to continued organizational success.
Recruitment and retention of valuable employees is now recognized as one of the most important issues facing corporate America. By creating an environment where all employees feel included, represented and valued helps to produce greater employee commitment and motivation. It also means fewer resources spent on training and turnover. By recognizing employee’s uniqueness and appreciating their varied perspectives helps ensure an inclusive work environment where awareness of, and respect for, different cultures is promoted.
There are several steps that organizations can and should take to promote a diverse work environment:
1. Create a diversity policy and publicize it. Your policy should set formal goals and strategies pertaining to creating an equal opportunity environment. Once your policy is in place it should be made public both internally and externally.
2. Write job descriptions as to not exclude anyone. Your job description should clearly be written for all types of applicants and should in no way discriminate.
3. Publicize job openings in different venues to attract a diverse workforce. Look beyond obvious recruitment methods and venues for good people. There are many sites online that help facilitate equal opportunity employment and include: Yahoo! en Español, DiversityInc, America’s Job Bank, The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Black Executive Exchange program.
4. Be aware of current legislation. Staying current on the latest discrimination legislation will help you avoid potential litigation.
Once the appropriate steps are taken, learning how to manage the diverse workforce will take some time. It requires education, sensitivity and awareness of how individuals from different cultures handle communication, business etiquette, and relate to management. Promoting workforce diversity requires HR recruitment of competent and qualified employees and the accommodation of individual needs within the context of the work team and the organization.
Whatever challenges diversity may create the benefits far outweigh the costs. Diversity allows for flexibility within an organization thereby strengthening the ability to respond to changing environments and demands which are critical to ensuring that your organization stays competitive in the global economy.
By Elizabeth M. Rice, SPHR
Elizabeth M. Rice is with Innovative Employee Solutions®, which specializes in payrolling and outsourced HR administrative services for various industries including technology, engineering, medical, insurance, clerical, research companies and many more. Visit www.innovativeemployeesolutions.com for more information.