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With a growing global economy, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to create a diverse workplace. Here are a few helpful tips that can build an organization’s foundation of inclusivity.
In the past few years, falling unemployment rates have allowed for healthier hiring competition among companies. Rather than dig out from under a slew of resumes, businesses now must take a proactive approach in attracting top-tier candidates, and organizations that make diversity a priority in their hiring practices will maintain an advantage over competitors.
Building an inclusionary workforce has shown to have an undeniably positive impact on business. It increases:
- Productivity – Happy employees means less turnover rates and a willingness to work with others.
- Creativity – Awareness of differences brings personal growth to your entire staff.
- Retention and recruitment – Potential employees view this as an enticing quality.
- Problem solving – A diverse staff provides a blended mixture of thoughts, experiences and opinions, making for a strong decision-making processes.
Business owners should not think of diversity as just “nice to have;” they should begin building diverse teams at a company’s inception. This strategy will position new organizations to better understand their customers, create a sense of community with their fellow colleagues and cast a wide recruiting net.
Outsourcing and telecommuting
Outsourcing and promoting a more diverse workforce may mean including employees who telecommute as a part of a business. Not only does this promote diversity in the workplace (allowing people to work from other countries as well as providing more options for workers with disabilities, for example), but it can create a more efficient and profitable workforce.
Contrary to previously held beliefs, telecommuters are highly productive, more satisfied with work-life balance, and can save significant money for companies in the long run. One study notes that companies allowing 100 employees to work at least half their time at home save $1 million on expenses per year. At American Express, employees who telecommuted handled more calls and produced 43 percent more business opportunities than those who worked in the office.
Telecommuting also benefits workers with disabilities. Results from a telecommuting survey show that 81 percent of professionals with disabilities would prefer at least part-time telecommuting. Telecommuting is also named as “the second most-wanted benefit among workers with disabilities” (behind paid time off); it even topped other powerful perks like free lunches and flexible spending programs.
In addition to telecommuting, offshoring and outsourcing can provide healthy cost cuts. Although hiring overseas employees can lead to communication challenges, organizations that make concerted efforts to develop communication skills with these staff members can improve their brand and overall revenue.
Building a team
Business owners and human resource teams need to think holistically in their hiring practices, and take an active approach in helping new staff adapt to workplace culture.
Here is an important question business owners should ask themselves when considering their workplace diversity: Does your workplace match the outside community? If the majority of your employees are young, white males, and you live in an area represented by a variety of cultures, you should reevaluate your hiring process. These tips can get you started:
- Speak with local churches, universities and community organizations to get connected to candidates.
- Use resources like LinkedIn to search for potential hires.
- Ask for employee referrals, and give rewards when a candidate is offered a position. New employees who already have a personal connection with a current staff member can adjust quicklier.
- Make job descriptions sound inviting to wider range of candidates.
- Offer benefits like flexible schedules, telecommuting options and reimbursement for gym memberships and smartphones.
- Promote opportunities for advancement.
Looking toward the future
U.S. business trends demonstrate a positive linear relationship between better financial performance and companies who have more racial and ethnic diversity among their workforce. In a 2011 Forbes study of 321 large global enterprises, companies with at least $500 million in annual revenue, 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is a necessary component of maintaining an innovative workplace.
Organizations that do make diversity a priority benefit from:
- Lower turnover costs
- The ability to capture a higher share of the market
- A more creative and better qualified workforce
- The capability to adapt to this country’s shift in ethnic makeup
Currently, more than 40 percent of new entrants into the U.S. workforce are from non-majority groups, a quarter of current GDP is accounted for by 47 percent of women’s overall share of labor and, according to the Center for American Progress, there will be no ethnic majority in our nation by 2050. Keeping this in mind, organizations must address diversity challenges in the workforce to stay afloat for years to come.
Creating a diverse workforce can no longer be an afterthought. Companies must make impactful efforts to drive diversity, otherwise they risk losing top employees to competition and in turn, hurt their bottom line.
Clayton is the Co-Founder, President, and COO of Circa Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in higher education. He is also the Director of Marketing Operations at Indigenous, an all-in-one website platform geared toward small businesses and the Co-Owner of Helm’s Brewery Co. Outside of work, Clayton is an active board member of two San Diego non-profit organizations.