Today marks the beginning the beginning of Black History Month. To recognize the occasion this year, let's talk about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Our community and surroundings play a large role in how we perceive the world around us. For some, that means that anything is possible. But for others, the world they see has historically been vastly different.
That’s exactly where representation comes in. Put simply, representation in the workforce refers to having employees of different races, religions, ages, ethnicities, genders, and more. This applies to regular employees as well as leadership and executive roles.
Minorities need to see others like them in leadership and executive roles if we want to show they're equally valuable and valued. As a result, your workplace will be more diverse and inclusive.
In this guide, we’ll explore why representation matters in the workplace and in your workforce. We’ll also share practical ways for making your company more inclusive and increasing minority representation.
Why Representation Matters in the Workplace
When it comes to diversity and representation in the workplace, one thing is certain. Minorities are severely underrepresented, not only in leadership roles but in other higher-level roles as well.
According to a study titled Being Black In Corporate America, Black adults fill only 0.8% of Fortune 500 CEO roles. Another study from SHRM shows that Asian and Asian-American board members make up 8% of the board member roles in Fortune 500 companies. Hispanic board members make up 4% of board memberships in Fortune 500 companies.
It’s obvious from the statistics above that this needs to change. By having a diverse workplace, you help turn the tide and make an impact by allowing everyone to have a seat at the table.
You can also inspire others to follow in the same footsteps. Encourage businesses to take the necessary steps towards embracing diversity and making their companies more inclusive.
How Diversity and Representation Can Make Your Workplace Even Better
1. Bigger Talent Pool
Hiring people from all backgrounds will give you access to a bigger talent pool. This means you don’t have to worry about not finding the appropriate person for the job. Nor do you have to worry about providing extra training.
2. Wider Variety of Ideas
A diverse workplace gives you access to a wider variety of ideas. This is because people from different backgrounds will all have different perspectives. Not only will this allow you to look at problems and solutions from different angles, but it'll also lead to unique and original results.
Bottom line: this access to a wide variety of ideas and solutions will set you apart from the competition, which in turns improves your productivity and profits.
3. Your Customers Are Likely Diverse
Unless you cater to a small and targeted customer base, chances are your customers are diverse. With a diverse workforce, you can build trust in your brand with a diverse target market.
Not only will you build trust, but you’ll also be able to understand your customer base better. With a better understanding of your customer base, you can improve your existing offers and develop new ones that take into account customer needs and preferences.
4. Better Brand Image
Nowadays more than ever, consumers want brands to stand for something. In an era where racial and social injustice is clearly still prevalent, taking a stand (Edelmen Earned Brand Report, 2018) against inequality will inspire your existing customers and turn them into loyal fans.
On top of that, it can also expand your customer base as loyal and happy customers who often turn into brand champions and ambassadors. Happy customers are more than eager to spread the word about you to everyone they know.
5. Diversity Helps You Cut Down on Legal and Operations Costs
A diverse and inclusive workplace can help you avoid unnecessary legal fees as well as cut down on operations costs:
- For starters, discriminating against employees based on their religion, race, gender, and more is illegal.
- Secondly, emphasizing diversity helps you reduce absenteeism and turnover costs. Not to mention it allows you to hire the absolute best talent.
Three Companies That Have Embraced and Benefited From Diversity
Diverse organizations perform better. Various studies show that companies with higher levels of ethnic diversity see a whopping 15% increase in revenue. Here are three companies that have embraced and benefited from having a diverse workforce:
1. Johnson & Johnson
A well-known brand name in the pharmaceutical and health industry, Johnson & Johnson is a prime example of embracing diversity and representation in their company. Their diversity and inclusion program is overseen by top-level management. They invested significant funds into employee resource groups, mentoring programs, and “Diversity University”.
Their efforts resulted in some awards that rank the company as one of the top inclusive and diverse companies to work for.
At MasterCard, they believe that diversity is more than simply bringing together people with different backgrounds. They believe that diversity helps them be a better team that drives innovation and gets better results.
Thanks to their efforts and initiatives, MasterCard ranks as one of the top 10 companies for diversity. They offer a slew of employee benefits such as transgender surgery coverage in the U.S. and same-sex domestic partner coverage across the globe.
Sodexo provides many services that focus on improving life quality. But what makes the company truly stand out is their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- The company makes it clear that gender balance is their business.
- 55% of all staff members in Sodexo are women and 58% of their board members are female as well. The company offers various programs on diversity and inclusion. Plus, they often partner with women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Sodexo, like Johnson & Johnson and MasterCard, has received different awards that play a testament to their diversity and inclusion commitment, including the Top 10 Working Mother Best Companies For Multicultural Women 2020 Award.
9 Ways to Increase Minority Representation in Your Company
Now that we’ve covered why representation and diversity matters, let’s talk about some practical ways to increase minority representation in your company:
1. Recruit for Diversity
The most straightforward and the easiest way to increase minority representation in your company is to recruit for diversity. In other words, hire people from diverse backgrounds, including minorities.
Not only will this make your workplace more inclusive, but it'll also give you access to a wider talent pool and more diverse ideas and strategies as we’ve discussed above.
2. Provide Equal Benefits and Opportunities
One of the most common problems that minorities face in the workplace is that they often don’t receive the same benefits or opportunities for advancement.
Prevent that from happening in your company. Make it clear in your company’s rules every employee deserves a fair and equal compensation for their work.
Another rule that you should institute is that every employee has the opportunity to advance in the company regardless of their cultural background.
3. Offer Training and Workshops on Diversity and Representation
Recruiting for diversity and ensuring all your employees have equal benefits and opportunities are an excellent start to making your workplace more diverse. But it’s only the beginning as the work doesn’t end at the C-level. Your employees also need to be familiar with your policy of making the workplace more inclusive.
Make sure everyone in your company is on the same page. Organize diversity training and workshops that address the issues of inclusivity and representation. This tutorial provides some training tips:
Share useful resources and materials that'll help everyone in your company become aware of the problem. Take necessary steps towards improving it.
4. Listen to All (Employee and Customer) Voices
No matter the size of your business, it’s safe to assume that your customers include people of diverse backgrounds. As such, it’s important to listen and acknowledge all your customer’s voices.
But don’t wait for your customers to speak up. Be proactive and ask for their feedback on how you can improve your products and services to cater to their needs better.
The same principle applies for your employees. Listen to their concerns and suggestions. Actively seek feedback on how you can improve the workplace to be more inclusive.
5. Start a Mentoring Program
As you’ve seen from the examples above, there is a huge disparity when it comes to hiring a diverse workforce. Besides, there are also significant disparities in higher education enrollment according to a study from the U.S. Department of Education.
Do your part to help bridge the gap and start a mentoring program that's equally accepting of all mentees, regardless of their heritage and skin color. You can learn more about mentoring in the tutorial below:
6. Support Community Organizations That Are Committed to Diversity
Donating your time or money is always worth a praise. Don’t forget that you have plenty of choice when deciding where your donation will go. Show your advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion by supporting community organizations that are committed to diversity.
Remember that donating time, money or resources isn't the only way to show your support. There are other ways to do it too. For example, you could invite members of those organizations to speak at your company and share diversity resources with your employees.
Another way to support diversity is to encourage other business owners in your network to show their support for those organizations too.
7. Partner With Other Businesses That Have a Diverse Workplace
Partner up with other businesses that have a diverse workplace when choosing new vendors or suppliers. Choose to use services and software from companies that promote diversity or have a diverse workforce themselves.
By doing so you’ll not only show your support for businesses with diverse workforce, but you’ll also show your employees and partners that you encourage diversity in all aspects and areas of your business.
8. Re-evaluate Your Screening and Hiring Process
The use of screening technologies and software is pretty commonplace nowadays. But you've got to ensure that such technologies aren’t biased, but rather built on data that's fair to all socio-economic groups.
Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and test your own screening and hiring process. This will ensure that no discrimination is taking place from the get-go. It'll also ensure that all the applicants get a fair chance at getting the job.
Learn more about improving hiring practices for diversity in our Diversity Hiring Guide and in these articles:
- DiversityHow to Ensure Diversity in Your Recruiting and Hiring PracticesAndrew Blackman
- DiversityHow to Manage Diversity in the WorkplaceAlexis (Lexi) Rodrigo
9. Promote and Support Diversity on Your Platforms
Lastly, don’t stop at your workplace. Go beyond and get active on your social media platforms. Promote diversity, share educational material and resources as well as what you’re doing to make your company more diverse and inclusive.
By doing so, you’ll champion the way for others and lead by example for other companies, not just in your niche but outside of it too.
More Articles Celebrating Diversity and Black Business Leaders
Would you like to learn even more about diversity and black business leaders? Take a moment to study the following articles:
- Black History Month20 Successful Companies Founded or Owned by Black EntrepreneursAndrew Blackman
- DiversityA New Look at Diversity in the Workplace for 2020Sharon Hurley Hall
- Black History MonthTop 40 Inspirational Quotes of Black Entrepreneurs & LeadersAndrew Blackman
Diversity and Representation at Work Has a Long Way to Go
Representation and diversity matters because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also the human thing to do.
When it comes to your company, there are several benefits from embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion. By promoting diversity and inclusivity, you’ll:
- improve your brand image
- cater to a wider target market
- have access to a bigger talent pool
- be able to come with unique and innovative solutions
While some progress has been done when it comes to diversity and representation, there’s still much work to be done. The work is far from over.
Use the tips we shared here on how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace to start making your company more inclusive today.
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