(First published on Women Lawyers Mean Business website.)
Business owners seeking to add value for their customers while increasing profits understand the importance of hiring diverse talent. Of those to benefit most from diversity programs, women are gaining by leaps and bounds and once in positions of influence, they are paying it forward.
As more women take the reins of corporations we see a trend in the commitment to diversify staff, not out of obligation to a compliance measure; rather the commitment stems from a genuine appreciation of the knowledge, wisdom, experience, and skillsets that a diverse workforce brings.
Far from altruism, recruiting talent comprised of minorities, women, the differently-abled, and the LGBTQ community shows sound business acumen, as it has been shown that businesses that practice equal employment see increases in the price of their shares within a matter of weeks.
This being the case, how can you move your company toward attracting and retaining a high-quality diverse workforce? Start with the basics.
Foster a Culture of Inclusion
A few key additions to your business culture can make a significant impact in helping people from diverse backgrounds feel welcomed and respected. One such practice is offering a flexible holiday schedule for those who don’t observe traditional Christian-based religious holidays like Christmas or Easter.
You can stretch beyond “reasonable accommodations” for the differently-abled and create a climate of flexible work conditions such as the option to work remotely.
Additionally, you can take advantage of a huge source of untapped experience by selecting applicants without college degrees. Too often degrees are used as a weeding tool in the application process. However, this does a great disservice both to the applicant and the employer. Job seekers with certificates in various fields, years of work experience, and the drive to learn and work hard often outperform their counterparts with college degrees.
Go Where the Talent Is
When recruiting, if you are committed to hiring diverse talent then you have to go where they are. Begin by broadening your recruitment to historically black colleges, women’s colleges, and Hispanic Servicing Institutions. You can extend paid internships with a multicultural focus to undergrads and attract minorities to your company.
Also, take advantage of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to post job listings in diverse groups, such as Latinx Engineers and Women Coders, for example. And when posting new jobs, ensure that the posts use clear language free of jargon as that could intimidate or alienate would-be applicants.
What Diversity Means For You
Diversity goes beyond cultural and gender differences to include things such as diverse ideas and information, too. When looking for innovation or to better understand your ever-expanding, culturally diverse client base, it pays to have a team that can pull from their varied experiences and educational backgrounds. At the start of a new campaign that seeks to break into new markets, who better to have on your staff than those who closely reflect that market? This is the real value of being able to draw from people of various backgrounds. They can inform the decisions you make in how best to move forward with a given population.
But to bottom-line it in dollars and cents, diversity adds to your profitability and customer satisfaction. Companies performing with executive teams scoring high in gender diversity “were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability” than lower-performing companies and “for ethnic/cultural diversity, top-quartile companies were 33% more like to outperform on profitability.”
Homogenous work teams breed stagnancy while diverse teams foster innovation. It’s a simple equation.
As more minorities make their way into positions of responsibility and influence within the workforce their parent companies will gain in profits, employees will flourish, and the economy will prosper. Hiring diverse talent is a win-win.