Building leadership diversity in the workplace has so many benefits that it feels impossible to pick just one—so here are three:
- Forty-three percent of organizations with diverse leaders show greater profits.
- Approximately 70% of inclusive organizations are more able to capture new markets.
- Diverse teams are 87% better at decision-making than individuals.
We could list many more reasons to diversify your leadership team, but right now, you’re probably more interested in knowing how to make it happen. Read on for a few actionable ways to get more leadership diversity in your workplace.
#1: Understand what “diversity” means
For many people, the phrase “diverse workplace” makes them think about race. But there are many different types of diversity—not all of which are visible to the naked eye. These might include:
- Physical, mental and/or emotional challenges
- Parental or guardian status
- LGBTQ identification
- Military service
As you work to diversify your leadership, remember that each of these groups will bring new perspectives and ideas to your team.
#2: Consult diversity experts
More diversity can provide many benefits in the long-term—but it can also come with some unexpected challenges. Consulting with or hiring a diversity expert can help you handle legal, moral and ethical concerns, as well as others that your organization may not have considered.
#3: Seek out underrepresented candidates
Look at your current leadership team and ask, “What is missing?” Once you’ve examined the demographics of the group, you’ll have a better understanding of what you need to make the team more diverse.
If you are unsure what kinds of “invisible” diversity your organization already has, consider sending an anonymous survey and offer an appreciation giveaway, such as a lunch cooler and a travel mug or a sling pack to anyone willing to submit their data.
From there, reach out to groups that can help you fill those gaps. For example, if you would like to add more military veterans, reaching out to veteran groups within your community or asking current veterans to recommend colleagues can be a great place to start.
#4: Consider blind recruitment
Although you may want to avoid any type of bias while recruiting staff, anything from names to alma maters can inadvertently “give away” ethnic background, gender, age or another piece of information. To prevent any inherent bias:
- Review resumes with names, dates and other identifying information blacked out or removed.
- Ask initial interview questions via email before meeting candidates face-to-face, and request they avoid offering answers with identifying information.
- Work with a diversity expert to ensure all interview questions are as unbiased as possible.
#5: Reflect diversity in your hiring process
If you’re inviting diverse candidates to apply and interview, but they only meet staff and leadership unlike them, it may be difficult for them to see themselves as part of your team.
Whenever possible, have the candidate meet with someone who shares some commonalities with the candidate, whether they’re giving a tour, participating in the interview, or joining in a meet-and-greet lunch.
#6: Provide post-hiring support
Once you’ve started hiring more diverse leaders, it’s important to ensure that their voice is being heard by your organization.
Founding Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—internal networking groups based on commonalities, such as race, gender and job type—give staff members a space to talk about the issues they face in the office as a member of that demographic.
When new leaders join the team, invite them to meet and participate with any group they feel represents their interest. A folder or binder with descriptions of each group, meeting times and other relevant information can be a great way to welcome new leaders to the company.
Diverse leadership equals diverse ideas
By prioritizing leadership diversity in the workplace, you make it possible for fresh ideas and new perspectives to blossom. With the help of these ideas plus appreciation giveaways, you’ll be well on your way to gaining those insights.