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You Might Be Undermining Your Diversity Efforts Without Even Knowing It

Source | FastCompany : By GWEN MORAN

Whether the goal is to be more representative of the population at large, or to acknowledge the increasing body of evidence that diverse companies outperform those that are homogeneous, diversity is a hot topic at many companies. But the issue of diversity is complex—as layered as the business case to support it—and the time, effort, and resources being poured into diversity initiatives can be undermined by oversights or missteps.

It’s a common issue, says Audra Jenkins, senior director of diversity and compliance at human resources consulting firm Randstad Sourceright. Sometimes, companies aren’t even clear on what they’re overlooking or doing wrong. Sociologists recently revealed how more traditional approaches to diversify have failed to attract and retain more women and people of color. The good news is that when leaders become aware of the issues, they can fix them. Here are six areas to review.

IGNORING CHANNELS TO DIVERSITY

If you’re not actively cultivating connections to varied organizations and prospective hires, you’re probably not attracting the richest possible pool of candidates, says David Livermore, PhD, who heads the Cultural Intelligence Center, a business consultancy that focuses on culture, and author of Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity. Reaching out to groups that can connect you to prospective employees who identify as various races and ethnicities, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations, etc., can help you attract candidates of various viewpoints and life experiences.

Groups, institutions, universities, and organizations that represent the people you’d like to see in your candidate pool should be notified when your company has openings, Livermore suggests. Make it clear in your job advertising and to your recruiters that you welcome diverse candidates. When you actively cultivate varied candidates, you begin to gain a reputation as a company that values diversity, Livermore says.

DISCONNECTING FROM BUSINESS GOALS

At commercial insurance company Zurich North America, Anuradha Hebbar, head of diversity and inclusion, says that companies need to connect their efforts to overall business goals, or their efforts to cultivate a more diverse workforce will likely fail. She says they need to be clear about how diversity will make the company stronger and more competitive. When organizations can tie diversity and inclusion to goals and positive outcomes, there is typically a stronger commitment to making them work.

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