When considering diversity in the workplace, the first thought that may come to mind is someone’s appearance, simply because that is the quickest indicator of difference between individuals. However, while appearance-based diversity should not only be necessary, but celebrated, diversity goes far beyond skin color. It is vital that we care for and respect our employees no matter their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc.
As employers and leaders, it is our duty to set the tone for respect in our organizations. I also encourage my clients and readers to look also at the importance of diversity of thought, and how all the previous categories listed not only contributes to, but enhances our businesses.
What is Diversity of Thought?
Quoting Henderson Woods LLC, “Diversity of thought introduces not only differences of perspective, but also differences in approach”. Diversity of thought focuses on the different ideas, concepts, perspectives, and approaches that are brought to the table because of our individual differences. These differences assist us with not only having a more well-rounded understanding of individuals, but also with how we look at issues and solutions in the workplace.
Consider this: if you owned a real estate business located in a suburban area, only hiring agents who were raised and lived in the suburb their entire life, how would your business grow? You would be much better off, both personally and professionally, by hiring agents with understanding of the surrounding areas outside your suburban district. While these outside agents may have different approaches and understandings compared to you and your suburban agents, they would also be able to bring new ideas, outside knowledge, and views that you and your employees hadn’t even considered yet because they’ve had different experiences and opportunities from you. They would help you grow and expand your business to something better than you ever thought it could be. Diversity provides a business expansion.
Steps You Can Take to Incorporate Diversity of Thought in Your Workplace
Take a look at our top three tips to diversifying your organization:
- Focus on removing any gender-specific phrases on your application (change “he” or “she” to a gender-neutral phrase such as “they” or “the candidate”).
- Choose to recruit from as many universities or applicant pools as possible. If you continue to recruit from the same specific locations, eventually your business will be made up of only those individuals.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, the perfect applicant may have a difference that you or your business haven’t encountered before. Be prepared to consider potential accommodations you can make. Does the perfect employee need a desk located closer to the wheelchair ramp? That shouldn’t be a problem. Will the best candidate require access to a private room for maternity reasons a few times a day? Your building should be able to accommodate that.
These are but a few of hundreds of ways that you can begin to implement diversity in your workplace. Remember, it starts from day one. A company that hires only one type of applicant, is one that will employee only one type of individual. Look beyond what you’ve done in the past, and embrace what differences you can incorporate in the future. There is a world of incredible, diverse, qualified employees out there just waiting to accept your offer letter.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.
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