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As companies spend significant time, energy and resources on driving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, they look for leaders who embrace the differences in employees with effective diversity management. Even still, many leaders talk the talk when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but too few walk the walk.
More than upholding ethical company policies and fostering a welcoming organizational culture, diversity in the workplace actually provides a competitive advantage. We’ve seen it firsthand while working with thousands of organizations for the past three decades – and there’s plenty of research to support the point.
Our research found that nearly one in three people feel their organizations’ abilities to gain the perspective of others is a strength that provides an advantage. A report published in Scientific American supports this; it found that decades of research actually suggests that working with diverse groups of people encourages us to push the normal boundaries and think outside of typical limitations, inspiring team members to embrace creativity and innovation. Research from McKinsey reported that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their competition, and ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to do the same. Another study from Cloverpop found that inclusive teams make better business decisions 87 percent of the time.
Knowing that you need a diverse workforce is step one, but the real results come when you understand the details of managing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Leaders falter when they apply the same management style for every person on their team, which can negatively impact the company with low morale and high turnover rates.
The key to managing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is adjusting your leadership style to people and situations. Race, age, gender, cultural backgrounds, education or any number of qualities that make your workforce unique combined with leaders who value the varying perspectives and talents create a dynamic, well-managed and high-performing team.
Focus on these strategies to start effectively managing diversity and inclusion within your company.
Everyone is driven differently – which is why you must recognize that how you mentor and communicate with one employee may not be the same way you do with others. Connect with your employees and ask about what motivates them. Making the effort to inquire about their personal needs and preferences means your employees will feel heard and understood. Plus, learning about their passions and interests can uncover additional ways to encourage employees. Once you know what works, you can engage team members with the information each needs – as well as the best communication methods to deliver said information.
Start by identifying company and department goals, and then make sure your employees understand the expectations. Let them know what they need to do to deliver on those goals, but allow them to collaborate on how to achieve them. Take advantage of the different viewpoints on your team, creating opportunities for team members to express ideas and provide feedback. Remember that the beauty of such diversity is that everyone can continually learn from each other.
Set checkpoints along the way to ensure employees remain aligned around the overarching goals. The idea is not to micromanage employees but rather offer continuous support, clear obstacles to success and keep the team on the right direction.
To that point, leaders should provide frequent coaching and feedback for employees. The benefits of such coaching is building your bench strength, aligning around the same goals and providing insights into where individual employees can have an even greater impact on the company.
Promoting inclusion and managing diversity in an increasingly varied and multi-generational workplace requires an intentional commitment to diversity initiatives. Use these strategies to jumpstart your efforts, eventually leading to a more engaged, motivated and focused workforce where employees understand their individual and companywide value. From there, the impactful results will follow.
You can further increase your competitive advantage by empowering your team with accountability and leaning on our expertise to help you define company priorities and outcomes in a diverse environment.