By Jenna Ryberg
Building a company without workplace diversity is like weaving a tapestry with only one thread: ineffective and probably a little boring. Workplace diversity not only expands your talent pool, but allows each member of your organization to draw from the backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences of fellow team members – but you already knew that.
The question isn’t whether diversity is important, but “How can my company measure diversity and use it effectively?” The answer is pretty simple: Identify the right data points, assess them, and make a plan.
A History of Workplace Diversity (In a Nutshell)
Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of 1965, the United States has implemented programs to help companies weave gender and ethnic diversity into the fabric of their cultures. Today, the diversity conversation is about much more (although these are still important); it includes every facet of employees’ backgrounds. Age, religion, education – you name it. So what does this mean for your company?
It means now is the time to get the workplace diversity ball rolling in your organization. Here’s how:
Pay Attention to These Diversity Metrics and Crunch the Numbers
“Metrics” is a fancy word for data. When it comes to moving your organization toward healthy diversity, the following data points are imperative:
- Recruitment – Take a quick look at the people your organization hires and who it’s turning away. Most importantly, examine the type of employee it seeks. Who you enlist (your “ideal” employee) says a lot about how your organization can improve its diversity outlook.
- Training – Assess the time and effort you put into workplace diversity training and the participation levels of current team members. As an organization, are you transparent about your diversity goals? Do you invest in training related to diversity so every level of your organization understands these goals?
- External Diversity – Measure the diversity of your clients and vendors. Whom does your organization attract? Your clientele should be as diverse as you want your company to be.
- Advancement – Do the math. Are advancement opportunities ready for persons of differing professional and educational backgrounds, etc.? If your organization tends to transition a specific “type” of employee more than others, you might be missing out.
- Culture Metrics – Are fairness, trust, honesty, and a welcoming environment part of your organization’s climate? Seek to gain an understanding of your organization’s culture and how team members perceive diversity within it.
Diversity Beyond Gender and Religion
While gender diversity plays a big role in successful businesses, it isn’t the only type of diversity that benefits your company. If you’re seeking to develop a truly diverse organization, you’ll need to take a broad look at diversity as a whole and examine your company’s culture as it pertains not only to traditional concerns (like gender and religious equality), but a wide range of other factors, such as:
- Critical Thinking Ability
- Communication Styles
- Conflict Resolution Styles
- Empathetic Ability
- Motivation Ability
- Professional Experience
- Past Work Environments
Identifying the potential for diversity isn’t enough, though; the key is cultivating an environment that actively values and welcomes each group. Imagine a company where each employee has similar work histories (their professional experience is virtually the same).
At a glance, it might seem like this organization – or team – is ideal because everyone has the same perspective. This might be true, but it is likely the organization suffers from a crippling flaw: a complete lack of creativity. Without the advantage of a diverse work environment, employees are not likely to generate out-of-the-box ideas.
Learning from the Past and Looking Ahead
In May 2014, Google posted a blog called Getting to work on diversity at Google. In it, the company behind the world’s most popular search engine admitted it struggled with diversity. The numbers didn’t lie, either: At the time, more than 90% of Google employees were white or Asian and only 30% were women.
Google’s acknowledgment of its diversity problem was a step in the right direction, but your company doesn’t have to make the same mistake. Diversity awareness shouldn’t be retroactive, and you can start the process now – as long as you have the right data.
That’s where we come in.
At iDashboards, we provide the tools companies need to assess diversity issues and make educated decisions. Using our data visualization technology, you can generate concise reports that easily translate into practical strategies.
Ready to begin? Start the diversity conversation today by sharing this post with your co-workers, team members, and HR reps!
An iDashboards employee since 2009, Jenna Ryberg brings extensive experience to her position. During her tenure at iDashboards, Jenna has received numerous honors and accolades, including the Leadership Award in 2014.