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The War for Talent: Why You Can’t Fill Open Positions Part 8: Failure to Address Diversity

In this eight-part series, we will take a close look at eight different factors that will affect your company’s ability to attract and retain top talent in the marketplace.

Diversity. It’s a buzzword that carries a broad range of emotional and professional connotations, both positive and negative. While most would agree that diversity is a good goal, there is plenty of debate about when and how that goal should be pursued. Diversity has a proven history of positively impacting the bottom line for businesses; still, many companies have failed to make diversity hiring programs a priority. Reasons vary, and include everything from a misunderstanding of what diversity is and what it can do to concerns about budgeting and salaries. The good news is that an intentional approach to diversity hiring can bring both new perspectives and better connections with customers and clients to your business.

Why Diversity is Good for Business

Diversity is a worthy goal for its own sake, but research conducted by Britain’s Institute of Directors (IOD) also supports the idea that a diverse workforce has a positive impact on financial performance. There are several reasons for this:

  • Higher Quality Workforce—A diverse work environment attracts better quality candidates, while also promoting different perspectives. When the workforce represents many different backgrounds, cultures, and ideas, those varied perspectives result in a more robust business strategy.
  • Positive Impact on Creativity and Productivity—Diverse perspectives enable businesses to see a bigger picture than their less diverse counterparts. Diversity stimulates the creativity of all team members as they consider other points of view, resulting in greater productivity.
  • Better Connection with Diverse Customers and Clients—As customer bases themselves become more diverse both in the U.S. and globally, companies that can speak to the needs of those diverse groups will outperform their competitors.

How Lack of Diversity Can Sabotage Hiring

Lack of diversity creates problems not only in the practice of the business itself, but also in the hiring stages. When candidates don’t believe that a business values diversity, they may be more likely to look elsewhere for a job. Lack of diversity can sabotage your hiring efforts in three primary ways:

  • Lack of focus on employees as people first—Employees are more than the sum total of their experience and education. When a business fails to recognize the value of diversity, its culture may unwittingly take on a less than welcoming atmosphere for some candidates.
  • Failure to reach Millennials—Millennials are the most diverse generation in the history of the United States, and they view diversity as a key for business success. They are also highly desirable candidates for businesses because they tend to have a good grasp of technology and they value collaboration in the workplace. In order to attract them, businesses will have to communicate a commitment to the values they hold dear, including diversity.
  • Negative affect on employer brand—As the workforce itself becomes more diverse, businesses that value diversity will be viewed as more desirable places to work. Failure to promote diversity could negatively affect your employer brand.

How to Promote Diversity In the Workplace

Diversity doesn’t just happen. It takes a commitment to the concept and value of multiple viewpoints and cultural backgrounds as well as a strategic business approach in order to achieve the ideal of diversity at all levels of the organization.

  • Incorporate diversity into your company mission. Keep it in front of your employees as part of your mission statement and company values. Let them know it is not just an afterthought, but rather central to the achievement of your business goals.
  • Create a culture that values different ideas and teamwork. Promote communication among team members and management, and encourage employees to share different perspectives and ideas.
  • Implement meritorious hiring policies. Meritorious hiring policies focus on the qualifications of each candidate while remaining neutral in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, etc. One way to do this is to reconsider where you do most of your recruiting. By expanding the reach of your recruitment efforts, you can broaden your talent pipeline to procure desirable candidates across multiple demographics.
  • Seek to mirror the diversity found in your community and in the demographics you serve. The diversity of your target audience should be reflected on your payroll. Minority employees can help you form connections with and serve the needs of minorities in your community.
  • Build relationships with organizations that promote diversity. Organizations that promote diversity in the workplace can be excellent resources for connecting businesses with qualified candidates.
  • Implement diversity training and mentorships. Diversity training should focus on promoting inclusion in the workplace by creating an environment where all employees can contribute their talents effectively. Mentorships can also provide excellent opportunities to help new employees assimilate into the company culture.

Failure to actively seek diversity will usually result in a workforce that is less diverse than it should be. Winning the war for talent will mean demonstrating an intentional effort to create a work environment where all perspectives and cultures hold equal value for your organization.New call-to-action