Promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace is no longer a lofty goal or piece of PR but a social and business imperative. Numerous studies have shown that diverse companies regularly outperform non-diverse companies and promoting this inclusive atmosphere can have a lasting effect on the bottom line. Companies with the highest racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have improved financial returns compared to their respective national industry medians.
Unfortunately, however, the Diversity Council Australia notes that while 9.3% of the Australian labour force is Asian born, only 4.9% make it to senior executive level.
It is essential that companies promote diversity in all areas of their business. This starts with recruitment and continues with training and education for current employees and ensuring that diverse employees are retained and given the support needed to progress. The progress towards diversity in the workplace may require early investment, but the rewards are clear to see later on.
Diversity matters more now so than ever. Companies who don't encourage it fail their employees and their business prospects and are often left behind. With that in mind, here are five essential tips for improving diversity in your organisation.
Promote diversity from within
Companies can boost diversity management in business to ensure that staff from traditionally ignored backgrounds feel fully integrated into the company. Denise Morrison, the first female CEO of Campbell's soup, said, “The path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring, and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Similarly, one of the most beneficial methods to increase inclusion in the workplace during the recruitment process is to employ candidates with a strong commitment to diversity.
Management can lead diversity and inclusion
Role models in high positions in the company can help drive cultural change on the ground. As Apple CEO Tim Cook explained, “if you're a CEO, the most important thing, to me, is to pick people around you that aren't like you. That complement you, because you want to build a puzzle.”
Corporate culture is often changed from the top down, and top-level management who articulate their desire to encourage diversity can be very influential. "People are inspired by vision," says writer Michael Rosenberg. "They want to follow a leader who shows concerns and values that are important to them. A positive leader will inspire 100% effort from everybody."
Communicate your diversity policy regularly and clearly
Your diversity policy is a statement of your organisation's values when it comes to making your workplace a more inclusive place to be. This corporate value is a formal written promise to your current employees and future employees that your organisation will put anti-discrimination practices in place that foster equal opportunity.
Monitor your company's diversity policies to ensure that you stick to the targets that you have set. Targets that are not analysed will have little chance of being realised. Regular evaluations of this will allow a company to see its progress and identify the problems that need to be addressed.
Make diversity and inclusion in the workplace a part of your business vision
The latest research shows there are clear financial benefits to diversity in the workplace. McKinsey examined this topic for several years around the world and found that companies performed much better when they had a higher percentage of diversity in their workforce. The 'Diversity Matters' report said, “Given the higher returns that diversity is expected to bring, we believe it is better to invest now, since winners will pull further ahead and laggards will fall further behind.”
Train and educate to encourage diversity in the workplace
Prioritising ethnic diversity is a relatively new concept in many businesses and staff may have little awareness of this issue. Employees may also take time to understand the importance and the value of increasing diversity. You can accelerate this process by offering regular seminars to your staff which develops their knowledge of this area.
If employees believe that diversity management is simply a token gesture, this will undermine any attempt to pursue this goal. It is essential that your employees understand your diversity policy and appreciate the vital part it plays in the company. Regular meetings that analyse inclusion in the workforce will help employees feel involved and encourage buy-in to the project, as well as further ingrain the notion into company practises.