Steps for small business owners to improve Diversity and Inclusion

Steps for small business owners to improve Diversity and Inclusion

With so much bias and discrimination rampant in the world today, it’s very important to make your business welcoming and inclusive for everyone. In doing so, you’ll not just be making a statement but also putting forth a lead for many more to follow. After all, talent is not just limited to some race, religion, color, or creed. 

Harvard Business Review found that five years after one company implemented a college recruitment program specifically targeting female employees, the share of white women, Black women, Hispanic women, and Asian-American women in its management rose by approximately 10%, on average. A similar program focused on minority recruitment increased the proportion of Black male managers by 8% and Black female managers by 9%,” writes Forbes.

There are many talented people across the globe who can be a perfect fit for your business despite how they look, what clothes they wear, or what religion they follow! Therefore, in the 21st century, it’s all the more important to have a workplace that promotes diversity and inclusion. How can you do that? Well, that’s what we’ll be understanding in this very excerpt! So, let’s get started!

Advantages of Having a Diverse Workforce

Steps for small business owners to improve Diversity and Inclusion

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce has its own benefits, some of which are listed below:

  • An Increase in Creativity

In a diverse workforce, there’s room for more creative freedom. Suggestions coming from people of different cultures and backgrounds allow a greater chance for creativity. This helps some great ideas to boil, which can be very beneficial for the organization. 

  • An Increase in Productivity

Productivity and creativity go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. A diverse and inclusive workforce because of their creative ideas also increases the productivity of the company. Only a diverse workforce can bring an unmatched increase in productivity because of their huge range of experience and perspectives.

  • Improved Cultural Awareness

If you have a global business, a diverse workforce can also help you understand the different nuances of conducting business in different countries. For eg – If a company does business in India, having an employee that speaks Hindi, the local language, can help you immensely in putting forth your products and services.

  • Your Reputation is Better

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce will speak volumes about your company culture. People will know that your organization is tolerant and treats everyone from all walks of life and backgrounds fairly. This will only help your reputation in the longer run. 

  • Faster Problem Solving

As per a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review,  “teams solve problems faster when they are more cognitively diverse.” Employees from different backgrounds are able to bring their diverse experiences to solving problems faster.

  • Better Employee Engagement

A diverse and inclusive team also ensures better employee engagement. Any business cannot function properly without an engaged workforce and better diversity only helps with this. 

  • Innovation and Profits

People from different backgrounds have different cultural and life experiences that they bring to the table. This diversity helps in bringing great, innovative ideas into the mix which directly profits the company.

How to Improve Diversity and Inclusion?

For organizations to reach their diversity goals, a multi-layered cultural approach is required. Here, we have listed a few practices that companies should embrace:

Steps for small business owners to improve Diversity and Inclusion

Acknowledge the lack of diversity

Unless you acknowledge the problem, how do you think you will address it? Therefore, before anything else, it is important for business owners to acknowledge that their organization lacks diversity in their workforce. Now that’s done, you can start making changes to providing a more inclusive space for every deserving person.

Start At the Top

Organization change starts at the top and then cascades down to the rest of your company. Working towards a diverse workplace pushes leaders to ask critical questions about their culture, metrics and what accountability looks like. Employees need their superiors to clearly communicate what’s on the other side of diversity goals. Therefore, leaders must get trained to bring about a change from the top.

Training for the Managers

Human resources, managers, and directors are key partners in building and sustaining your culture. It’s important that managers are able to provide clarity and that they receive training on proper diversity and inclusion norms.  This can help them understand how to manifest the company vision and new policies and practices through a diverse workforce. 

Well-timed training

The staff should only be trained after the company has established the why and how of your inclusion work. Leaders must ask themselves why this work is important in their organization. Employees need to hear an answer in order to authenticate why their leaders are invested in their goal of having a diverse workforce. 

Mentorship Programs to Grow Diversity

Steps for small business owners to improve Diversity and Inclusion

As per Forbes, weaving “inclusion into the fundamentals of your recruitment processes, from recruitment fairs at universities to internship programs,” helps “so that you are collecting a diverse pool of recruits for your openings. When you create time for valuable mentorship, you create leaders for the future.”

Don’t Follow Social Stereotypes

Often it might not be the company’s fault but that of the recruiting individual who may be clouded by some social stereotypes. This prevents the person from hiring people who are the best fit with the right skill set despite their backgrounds. It is important to keep an eye out and ensure that no biases are finding their way into your organization. 

Educate Everyone on Why It’s Important to Have a Diverse Workplace

In addition to the last point, you can only avoid social stereotypes from spreading by educating everyone at your organization about the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workplace. LinkedIn writes, “It’s one thing to make a concerted effort with programs and policies, but without the entire company understanding and believing in the reasons why it is so important, even the best intentions will ultimately fail.”

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To Wrap It Up

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results immediately despite effectively keeping all the measures in place. Efforts such as these are often time taking but in the end, very rewarding. A company’s success is reliant on its employees and unless you have people coming from different backgrounds and cultures bringing innovative ideas to the plate, how do you imagine achieving that?

For more such informational blogs, don’t forget to subscribe to the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine!

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