10 Steps to Embrace Workplace Diversity

Fostering diversity and inclusion isn’t something that you do once in order to check a box. It’s an ongoing commitment that an employer makes to ensure their organization is continuously taking the needs and concerns of each employee into account.  Embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce can contribute to improved morale, enhanced transparency, and increased employee productivity within organizations. 

Here are 10 ways small organizations can be more diverse and inclusive:

1. Ensure that your organization has non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in place; make sure that employees read and agree to these policies during their employment with the organization. 

2. Make sure that you are aware of your state and local human rights laws and protected classes.  Different locations have distinct classes that are protected by law.  Some states even have their own training requirements!

3. Also important: Give employees an outlet where they can report adverse or uncomfortable events – anonymously or non-anonymously – that they may have experienced or witnessed.  Make sure also to follow up on these reports promptly and appropriately. 

4. Provide employees with sensitivity training or training that addresses how employees can be respectful of one another, how they can effectively communicate with one another, and how to avoid being offensive towards one another.  

5. Further, try sponsoring events that celebrate diversity and inclusivity.  This may include holding team lunches catered by diverse restaurants or with foods from various countries, holding lunch-and-learn events about various types of individual lifestyles, and sponsoring outside events that embrace diversity and inclusion.

6. Train employees who interview job applicants or candidates on how to avoid illegal questions or questions that may make others feel uncomfortable.  See more about this in our blog post about harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

7. Ensure that your internal communications are using proper gender pronouns. Further, check to see that any photos or pictures included in company documents are representative of your organizational demographics. This will express an interest in a diverse and inclusive workforce. 

Benchmarking best-practices

8. Consider offering employee benefits that provide for same-sex and domestic partner coverage, leave for medical procedures related to transitioning, and other leave policies that support a diverse workforce.   

9. Determine whether there’s a requirement to track your EEO data and or have an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) in place.  If this is not a requirement, consider whether your organization would also want to take these steps voluntarily. 

10. Lastly, focus on creating a positive and supportive culture within your organization. Go the extra mile to show every employee that they are appreciated – as individuals, co-workers, and employees.  

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