There is no denying that the word "diversity" is a buzzword in modern corporate culture. There is no company out there that would suggest that capitalizing on the benefits of the diverse workforce is going to negatively impact their organization. But when it comes to actually supporting diversity in an organization, and taking concrete steps to include diverse talents as part of your team, many companies have a harder time turning talk into action. So let us take a look at some of the ways that organizations, as well as the recruiters who work on their behalf, can translate a commitment to diversity into a hugely successful reality.
Developing policies is always a good place to start when it comes to realizing diversity. Companies should clearly articulate how they support diversity employees and customers. However, having general policies is only the start. Organizations need to ensure that these policies are regularly put into practice. This may sound straightforward but it is often the hardest step to take. Organizations need to ask themselves how exactly they are acting upon these policies? They need to constantly review, at every level, how these policies are being implemented in order to support diversity employees or customers. If employees spot gaps in the policies or ways that they can be better, systems need to be in place for changes to be made. The bottom line on diversity policy is this: Having them is not nearly enough. Having them be effective is the key.
Once the policies are in place, organizations need to demonstrate that commitment. It is important that we see diversity everywhere within our organization. Not just at the higher level decisions, but on the ground floor and in day-to-day operations. Having things as simple as an automatic door button allowing access for people with disabilities or a rainbow sticker in the office celebrating LGBTQ* identities can go along way in showing that diversity means something to the organization. As a job seeker with a significant physical disability myself, seeing those little signs made all the difference for me. Organizational and high-level policy is important, but if you can't see it when you walk into the office, you are missing a critical component of capitalizing upon diversity. Make diversity visible and you will make any company stronger.
Lastly, for diversity to become more than just a buzzword, you need to celebrate it and not just accommodate it. Many studies have shown that more diverse companies perform better. Often, these are companies that go beyond simply supporting the needs of their diverse workforce or customer base. That is obviously important, but the real key to success comes when you learn to celebrate and focus on diversity as the strength that it is. Hosting events that allow employees to share experiences or highlighting successes that come from the rich diversity of an organization will bring diversity to the next level. That is the level that all companies should be building towards. We need to allow employees to bring diverse interests and experiences to the table and create safe spaces for those experiences to inform what the organization does. When companies move beyond accommodation diversity to it celebration, they will have a truly tapped into the opportunity that it presents.
Diversity needs to be more than just a word. It needs to be asset and it needs to be at every level of an organizational structure. Organizations need to be held to account for their commitment on diversity by the recruiters, jobseekers and customers that they interact with on a daily basis. That is the only way that we, as a society, can push diversity to the next level. Most importantly, we need to get it to the level where those of us who experience diversity on a daily basis never again feel like outsiders. That is what being diverse means to me.