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5 ways to infuse your company leadership with diversity

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Maybe you’re already convinced that workplace diversity is valuable. Perhaps you’ve switched up some of your recruiting tactics, broken away from the norm and hired people outside your typical talent pool.

But look closer.

What does your leadership team look like? Does everyone appear, sound and think similarly? If so, you may have more room to diversify your company.

After all, building an inclusive workplace culture takes more than hiring diverse talent for entry and mid-level positions. For your business to benefit fully from workplace inclusivity – which may include improved revenues and increased innovation – it’s vital you hire more women and minorities for the C-suite and other key posts.

If you’re committed to fostering leadership diversity, these five steps can help.

1. Understand what it means to be diverse

People often associate diversity solely with race, ethnicity and gender. And while these are important factors, diversity goes much further and includes:

  • Physical ability
  • National origin
  • Education
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious beliefs
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Veteran status
  • Parent or family caregiver status

As this list illustrates, diversity is about representation. If you’re committed to boosting diversity, work to ensure an array of people ‘see’ themselves in your workplace – from entry level to leadership posts.

2. Make sure stakeholders are on board

Stakeholders are essential to diversifying leadership. Connect with them to explain the advantages inclusion can offer your company.

  • Financial benefits
    Leading with the financial advantages is a solid way to approach the conversation with stakeholders. In fact, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, diversity can help boost innovation, which can lead to better employee performance, higher revenue gains and more profitability.
  • Better talent
    Jobseekers pay attention to organisational diversity. Inclusion (or its absence) oftentimes can influence younger candidates’ decision-making. Lacking diversity could cost companies top talent, since those candidates may choose to work for businesses that demonstrate more inclusiveness.
  • Compliance
    Nationwide, corporate inclusivity laws are becoming more standard. And with that comes various regulations to which companies must adhere. Having a diverse leadership team already in place can be beneficial when facing an assortment of complex compliance regulations.

3. Consult a diversity, equity and inclusion expert

To help ensure you take the right steps when seeking to diversify your leadership team, it can be helpful to connect with outside experts.

These professionals will not only have the knowledge you need, but also the tools, resources and know-how to help you steer the essential conversations to be had around the relevant, related topics.

Furthermore, when these specialists are also trained in HR compliance, they can help your company navigate local, state and federal laws and regulations, too.

4. Hire the right person for the role

Hiring executive-level talent is similar to hiring in other positions, in that you’re searching for the best person for the job. And therein lies the dilemma, particularly if you’re leaning on old methods of hiring which result in less diverse candidates. Why? Because many traditional approaches can result in narrower, less-diverse candidate pools.

If you’re fully committed to diversifying your leadership, consider:

  • Promoting from within
  • Reaching out to career service offices at multicultural colleges as well as women’s campuses
  • Overhauling job descriptions to ensure neutral, inclusive wording
  • Practicing ‘blind hiring’ – recruiting method through which you omit information that can expose a candidate’s demographics – to help minimize unconscious bias

Remember: The recruiting process can be a chance to collaborate with others (HR specialists, industry professionals, professional organisations) who share your commitment to diversity. With their help, you may find a wider, more inclusive group of qualified candidates.

5. Offer diversity support resources

Once you’ve hired and trained a more diverse team, it’s important to continue nurturing workplace diversity. Integral to that endeavour is helping members of your diverse workforce connect with co-workers who share common traits, experiences and perspectives.

This can be done by creating employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups can help reinforce connections and belonging between employees, potentially lengthening their tenure with your company. The longer these employees stick around, the more apt they are to move up the ranks to become future leaders.

In other words, ERGs can play a meaningful role in talent development. For instance, group leaders can offer lunch-and-learn events, bring in guest speakers and facilitate peer mentoring, all with an eye to helping employees advance their careers.

Final thoughts

Creating diversity in leadership requires planning, dedication and a commitment to on-going staff development. Yet sustained effort can help your company attract the right talent and build a better workforce – all while potentially increasing innovation and revenue.

Originally published on Vistage Research Center.

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