Diversity & inclusion, as part of the corporate strategy, is a prevailing trend that continues to attract focus among organizations of all sizes.

Workplace diversity can be defined as the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviors.

In my mind, an organization has achieved excellence in its diversity and inclusion practices when an employee feels comfortable bringing their “whole-self to work”; and does not feel the need to conform to a certain persona that they feel is acceptable.  This does not mean there is a lack of professionalism, but simply all aspects of an individual are accepted.  Diversity and inclusion means there is no singular model of what the ideal employee looks like; or what attributes they possess.

There are many reasons why an organization should care about maximizing the diversity & inclusion of its workforce.   Organizations that are more diverse are:

  • More innovative;
  • More profitable;
  • Have higher employee engagement;
  • Increase size of candidate pool to select from for new hires;
  • Lower turnover; and
  • More productive.

The commitment to increase the diversity and inclusion within an organization is a significant one.  It is often a multi-year commitment, and involves putting together a diversity plan  Part of this involves evaluating the organization’s recruitment practices and policies to assess barriers and practices that may be considered non-inclusive.  According to the Society for Human Resources Management below are some questions worth asking when evaluating how diversity friendly and rigorous your organization’s recruitment practices really are:

  • Does your organization have established goals around diversity and recruiting? If so, are these goals internally driven or mandated by law?
  • What organizations/agencies can the organization partner with to find a diverse pool of candidates?
  • Have job descriptions for open positions been updated recently? Are they still accurate reflections of the skills needed to perform the job effectively?
  • Have the hiring goals for this job group been communicated to the hiring manager, checked for understanding, and agreed upon to increase the likelihood of a good hire?
  • Is there a current job description for this position and clear-cut performance standards that can fairly evaluate any new hire without bias?
  • Where should the organization advertise to attract a diverse pool of well-qualified applicants for this position?
  • What policies and benefits are in place in the organization that would attract diverse candidates (i.e., flexible hours, job-sharing, etc.)?
  • What training has the organization provided to hiring managers to ensure the best candidate is selected?
  • Has the organization reviewed its on-boarding process to make certain candidates selected receive the right information and a welcome that will secure a partnership with the organization?
  • How will human resources follow up with the hiring manager and the new employee to make certain the new partnership is working?

Many Fortune 50 companies have made diversity and inclusion such an integral part of their corporate strategy that they publish a diversity and inclusion annual report. This report will often cover the following:

  • The organization’s business case or rationale for diversity and inclusion.
  • A history of the organization’s diversity journey.
  • The diversity and inclusion vision, mission and strategy.
  • Diversity goals and progress toward achieving those goals, often depicted in colorful tables or charts.
  • A list of employee resource groups and how they are structured.
  • A description of programs and events held that year.
  • A list of internal diversity council members or external diversity advisory group members, or both.
  • A list of outside groups with whom the organization partners.
  • Descriptions of programs that demonstrate a focus on either the local community or that have a direct link to the organization’s purpose.
  • Information on the organization’s efforts to support diverse suppliers or reach diverse market segments.
  • A list of diversity-related awards and honors the organization received that year.