(Guest Blog by Kari Heistad)
There are common characteristics of a solid diversity initiative. Here are a few best practices that can help you get things kicked-off in the right direction.
Definition of Diversity:
It is vital that every company develop their own definition of diversity, clearly outlining what they believe workforce diversity is for them.
Diversity Steering Committee:
A group of managers and employees from across all departments/business units of a company. This group of people is responsible for determining what the goals of the diversity program will be, what topics to address, how diversity can benefit business operations at the company and how to successfully communicate the diversity program to internal and external stakeholders.
Customized Business Case for Diversity:
The business case for diversity is different for every company. It is important that a company determine the business reasons behind the decision to launch a diversity program and that these reasons are aligned and connected to the strategic goals and business results that will be improved by the launching of a diversity program. This can include: improving customer service, improving the communication and productivity of diverse company teams, developing targeted products and services for specific diverse consumer segments and improving employee retention rates.
Launching a new diversity program at a company is a great opportunity to communicate with employees and reinforce company values. Also, it is vital that the goals of a diversity program are clearly and pro-actively communicated to employees so that there is minimal speculation or confusion. The communication plan should emphasize the positive business outcomes that will result as well as how the creation of a more inclusive and respectful company culture benefits all employees.
Diversity Strategic Plan:
Covers initial rollout of program as well as outlines goals that program aims to achieve of the course of one year, two years, or three years.
It is important that employees understand what diversity means to the company, their role in creating a respectful workplace and how diversity can be applied to their jobs to improve company performance. It is also recommended that managers receive training on how to best manage and lead diverse teams.
Recruiting and hiring employees from a wide range of background enables the company to capture new ideas, diverse experiences and to tap into the creative energy that comes from having a diversity of thought and backgrounds present in the workforce.
An internal publication that highlights programs, community events, diversity champions, international holidays, tips for working on diverse teams etc. This is a regular reminder to employees about diversity and its impact upon their work.
Employee Resource/Affinity Groups:
Employees that share a common affinity may wish to develop a networking group. These resource groups can support employees, advocate as needed and raise awareness of issues of importance to group participants to the company.
An internal intranet page serves as a resource for employees on diversity topics, international holidays, articles and other resources.
Chief Diversity Officer:
A chief diversity officer serves as the point person for internal and external diversity efforts, programs and initiatives.
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