How to Create a Sustainable Approach to Workplace Diversity
By Denise Costello
Too often we see diversity brought to the forefront of an organization’s mind only when it is timely. It’s excellent progress to recognize the importance of inclusion during a specific day or month, but we need to strive to do this all year round.
Why does it matter?
When it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion in your workplace, it’s more than checking off a box. It reflects your company’s desire to recognize the unique differences in your employees and customers. When people work with others who are different, come from different backgrounds, follow different thought processes, it challenges their own way of thinking and allows them to think more outside of the box. This impacts the way they tackle and solve problems.
As David Rock and Heidi Grant note in their article for Harvard Business Review: “Diverse teams are more likely to constantly reexamine facts and remain objective. They may also encourage greater scrutiny of each member’s actions, keeping their joint cognitive resources sharp and vigilant.”
At the same time, research suggests that shifting an authentic focus to this topic is also a smart business decision. McKinsey & Company began studying the “business case” for diversity in 2014. In 2020, they published their most recent report which collected data from more than 1,000 companies across 15 countries. This report concluded that “the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.”
How can we do it?
Organizations sometimes struggle on how to start promoting diversity and inclusion unless it is tied to a “timely” campaign (like Pride Month) or forced upon them due to legal actions. The reality is there are several ways organizations can start working on creating more inclusive workplaces today:
Ensure the representation of diverse talent.
This might require your company to re-examine your hiring and interview process. Ask yourself, “am I making this accessible to all potential applicants?” You also want to remember that you aren’t hiring for the sake of diversity, but if you create a company culture that “invites diversity of discussion and strives to make everyone feel welcome,”it will naturally attract a more diverse talent pool.
Make sure leadership is on board.
Leadership teams need to not only be “in favor” of diversity and inclusion, but they need to be equipped with the training and tools to guide the company.
At the initial start of the Covid-19 outbreak, we saw company roles for diversity officers drop by 60%. That number is starting to rebound, and as your company looks to create a role, you should remember a diversity officer is not a “one person show.” Just like a salesperson needs a sales team, you want to offer the same resources for diversity and inclusion roles to make a true impact.
From a personal and professional standpoint, now is the time to start making sure your company is taking a step in the right direction. Not just for a day or month, but 365 days a year.
About Denise Costello
Denise Costello is the SVP Commerical at SGK. In this role, Denise provides strategic direction and leadership for all market-facing and process required to effectively differentiate the company and optimize growth, market share and account retention. She serves as a key member of the SGK AMERS Executive Leadership Team in the development of the enterprise strategy and direction.