Ideal Outcomes

How to Manage Diversity in an Organization

By Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer, Ideal Outcomes, Inc. 

Diversity is being increasingly recognized for its potential to transform organizations of all sizes and propel them to new heights in terms of success and profitability.

The value inherent in diversity has been studied and spoken about for many years. Back in 2015, McKinsey published one of the earliest and most comprehensive studies on this topic. Among their findings was a direct and powerful correlation between diversity and financial performance.

Notable data points include:

  • Companies with greater ethnic and racial diversity in their workforce perform 35% better than those whose staff demographics match the national average.
  • Organizations with greater gender diversity perform 15% better than companies with less gender diversity.
In this article, we’ll explore what we mean by diversity, why it matters in our modern business climate, and steps you can take to bring its power to bear for the benefit of your organization.

What Is Diversity in an Organization?

Organizational diversity refers to the welcoming and acceptance of differences in people’s personal backgrounds and traits such as age, race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, education, religion, and more.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Diverse Workforce?

Organizations with a diverse workforce have an advantage over their competition on several levels. For example, having a rich and varied set of employee backgrounds means the company as a whole has a deeper and broader level of experience and expertise in critical areas that affect its success in the market.

Diverse experiences, thinking, and approaches also breed more meaningful brainstorming. People with different backgrounds and life experiences approach situations and challenges differently. Together, they can work to deliver something even more valuable than they would individually.

Another benefit of fostering a diverse company culture is that it puts you in a position to understand, market to, and serve more demographic segments. You have employees on your team who can relate to and speak customers’ language from different cultural backgrounds.

Last but not least, diverse organizations are where more people want to work. Human beings innately want to feel welcomed and accepted for who they are. It follows that diverse organizations are places where candidates will feel they can work towards their goals without fear of judgment, unfair criticism, or bias.

Embracing workforce diversity can be the key to building and sustaining a happy, motivated, and productive workplace. But diversity isn’t something you can fake or buy.

Here are our top tips for managing diversity in your business:

4 Tips for Managing Diversity in an Organization

1. Lead by Example

Any effort to drive a more diverse workplace will be doomed to failure if the company’s senior leadership doesn’t truly buy into it. They need to “walk the talk” in everything they say and do. The consistent message from management needs to be, “this is who we are.”

To this end, leaders need to make themselves visible and heard. They need to champion the diversity agenda in every decision or action. This also means giving people from all levels and backgrounds a voice during meetings, inviting input and feedback, and even welcoming constructive criticism without fear or favor.

2. Communicate and Reinforce Your Commitment to Managing Diversity

Organizations where diversity is authentic and thriving know the importance of communicating and reinforcing the diversity agenda company-wide. These messages should be reflected in intranet postings, newsletter articles, blogs, Town Hall meetings, and PR statements.

Additionally, all policies, procedures, and other rules and information should be tailored to transcend any cultural or language barriers.

3. Invite and Encourage Diversity in All Areas

To establish a fully functioning diverse organization, diversity can’t just be paid lip-service to in small pockets of the business or as part of discrete activities. Everything from project teamwork and the formulation of HR policies and procedures to R&D should be approached with diversity in mind.

Diverse organizations also encourage their people to get to know and value each other as individuals in both formal and informal settings. This can go a long way to eliminating misunderstandings and deepening professional rapport.

4. Let Diversity Inform Your Hiring Strategy

You’ll only truly succeed in building and sustaining a diverse workplace if you put diversity at the heart of your recruitment and hiring strategy. This impacts everything from how your job advertisements are worded to the backgrounds and profiles of the managers and peers who conduct interviews with prospective candidates and ultimately make the final hiring decisions.

Also, make sure that those conducting interviews understand what should and shouldn’t be asked during interviews (for example, inquiring about a person’s religious beliefs, political affiliations, or romantic life is strictly off-limits.)

Take a read of this post for more tips for building and managing diversity in your organization.