I have had the opportunity to work in the area of diversity and inclusion for over the last ten years and I can say from experience that implementing diversity and inclusion in a workplace is not an easy task. Everyone does not support diversity and inclusion efforts nor see the benefit of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There will be many challenges in implementing this new strategy, but please understand that the rewards will outweigh the risks and will be huge for your company. It is extremely important that once diversity is addressed, strategies must be developed to make the workplace inclusive. As I have learned over the years, diversity plus engagement equals inclusion.
The first step in implementing diversity and inclusion is to understand the existing organizational culture and examining what the organization’s stance, particularly the leadership of the organization is on diversity. As an individual implementing diversity and inclusion, it is important to know whether you are starting from past efforts or if this is the first time diversity and inclusion will be discussed. If past efforts have been implemented, research why it was not successful and look to fill the gaps in the areas in which it failed. If it is the first time that diversity and inclusion will be implemented, it is important to form a team of individuals that can work together to create a plan of action for the company. Research diversity and inclusion strategies of similar companies and competitors and develop a detailed document that highlights their strategies and specific ways to implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace through the functions of hiring, recruiting, training, and resource groups.
When approaching the leadership of your organization, it is important to have supporting data that state the importance of diversity and inclusion by using statements such as diversity provides differing perspectives, creates innovation, reaches new clientele and markets, and that diverse and inclusive workforces drive employee productivity and retention.
If you receive the support of leadership and if they believe in your strategy, you will receive the support of others. The leadership may provide additional funds and resources to support your strategies. Present ideas from your findings on whether your organization would benefit from having a formal diversity and inclusion team that will include new hires or an informal team consisting of existing employees that will focus on forming relationships with those that represent the company in the various areas that are responsible for the recruiting, hiring, community outreach, training, and retaining of diverse employees.
After you have formed a team, researched competitors’ diversity and inclusion strategy, and spoken with leadership, it is important to actively engage the diversity in your company. Have resource groups, diversity networks, and events that can provide additional support to your cause and send a strong message that Diversity and Inclusion are vital to our company and are here to stay.
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