Early in 2015, Selena Rezvani, diversity consultant, speaker, and author, wrote a post for Forbes titled Five Trends Driving Workplace Diversity in 2015. The article highlights the fact that while corporate diversity departments have not been at the forefront of the minds of corporate executives, diversity initiatives and programs are making a comeback.
This is great news! I am not sure what is taking organizations so long to understand and appreciate the value of a diverse workforce, but I am happy to see businesses are coming around. As cited in the Forbes article, for an organization to truly embrace diversity, executives need to believe it. Too often a program is launched and is not fully embraced by senior leaders who don’t put the time into integrating the initiative into how the organization is run.
While I agree that when businesses see the value in diversifying, intentionally launching a program or initiative is a good place to start, however, it should not end there. In my opinion, diversity is more than an initiative, program or department – it is a way of operating; it is woven into the fabric of the organization. From the way candidates are sourced to the manner in which goods and services are procured – making the effort to bring in a variety of experiences and resources from multiple venues ensures your business and team does not remain stagnant.
It is equally important to realize is that diversity is much more than race and gender. According to Merriam-Webster, diversity is defined as:
- the condition of having or being composed of differing elements
- an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities
Too often, likely due to employment laws and regulations, business leaders and HR practitioners tend to limit how diversity is defined to ensure they are able to check a box. When seeking true diversity in the workplace, there often is no box to check. Not only is there no box to check, there are unlimited benefits to be gained!
Don’t believe me? Check out these examples:
- How Diversity Helps Your Business Beat the Odds by Cesar Melgoza, Entrepreneur contributor; and
- Capitalizing on diversity's competitive advantage by Loretta L.C. Brandy and Eric Ratinoff at NH Business Review
There are many more examples of how companies thrive as a result of accepting ideas that are different than the norm, hiring people who bring variation in thought and work styles, connecting with individuals who come from different industries, and building partnerships with a variety of customers.
Diversification is ongoing. If your business is initiating a program, make sure there is a plan for incorporating it into how business is done.
Has your organization implemented a successful diversity initiative? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!