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5 Ways to Promote Workplace Diversity Through Employee Engagement

5 Ways to Promote Workplace Diversity Through Employee Engagement

Diversity is essential to create a thriving workplace, especially when it comes to employee engagement. Workplace diversity encourages creativity and innovation because every team member, from leadership to frontline employees and mobile workers, bring a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the table. Those unique viewpoints have a huge effect on your business and workforce, impacting every aspect of your company.

Actively cultivating a range of employee engagement and internal communication strategies places diversity at the core of everything you do throughout the workplace, and demonstrates sustained commitment to employee connection for all.

What Is Diversity in the Workplace?

What exactly does it mean to have a diverse workplace? Here's a hint. Just because you've shown the cultural orientation video from 1995 on "diversity in the workplace" doesn't mean that your company is actively promoting diversity. 

Diversity occurs in the beautiful intersection of different ethnic groups, genders, cultures, religions, languages, education, viewpoints, and abilities. It's all of that. It's people who think different, act different, and look different working together to solve complex problems. 

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

Having a diverse workforce goes beyond an HR Seminar or workshop. When done properly, more diverse workforces have proven to be more creative, faster problem solvers, more innovate, and better at decision making. 

Simply put, diversity isn't just a topic of discussion among HR professionals. It's actually a competitive advantage

Here are five clever ways to improve employee engagement through diversity-focused initiatives and operational processes for your workforce. 

1. Empower and Educate Managers

Don’t assume that managers understand the importance of workplace diversity and that they understand how to hire and manage a diverse group of employees.

As the primary point of employee connection between leadership and frontline workers, managers need to be aware of and understand how to support all employees to foster a diverse workforce. Scheduling cultural and other sensitivity training is a great first step.

Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your workplace, looking at how your offices are set up, such as the availability of non-gendered restrooms facilities, and assess reporting structures and employee feedback mechanisms.

When workplace diversity is celebrated, and management is empowered with the appropriate resources, the potential of your workforce becomes unlimited.

Diverse group of employees2. Create Diversity-Friendly Workforce Policies

Facilitating workplace diversity may mean creating new policies or amending current ones system-wide, from recruitment to performance evaluations and promotions. For example, when posting job openings, position descriptions should be tailored to reach broader audiences.

Consider posting these position descriptions and sending recruitment specialists to a wider range of job fairs, community hiring offices, and outreach programs.

Allowing employees to take off work for religious holidays that may not be officially observed by the company, offering on-site daycare, and extending the option for flexible work hours are some examples of diversity-friendly policies.

Hopefully, your company already is an equal opportunity employer (EEO) approved by the Federal EEOC. If not, you should meet their standards and seek approval immediately.

3. Communicate Clearly and Create Employee-Led Task Forces

Creating workplace diversity policies isn’t enough. Clear communication and follow-through is necessary to ensure the policies are effective.

Employees should feel comfortable coming to their managers with any concerns, especially about their treatment in the company due to their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, or other factors.

Managers should feel confident in their internal communication with employees by avoiding making any assumptions, and using inclusive language. This is a great initial way for managers to set up open and respectful internal communication channels.

Regularly ask for feedback from your workforce and create dedicated diversity task forces with team members from every department for candidate recruitment and training. This ensures transparency as well as ownership and buy-in from the whole team.

Recognizing that not everyone feels comfortable speaking up through traditional internal communication channels, these task forces can assist with ongoing efforts in strengthening workplace culture and employee engagement for everyone.

4. Offer Diverse Opportunities for Employee Engagement

If your company has multiple locations, consider allowing employees to visit other locations in another city, state, or country. Poll your workforce with an employee survey to find out where they like to spend free time or volunteer, and arrange both work-based activities and external employee engagement outings.

This kind of exposure is a great way to let employees experience and participate in other environments and creates opportunities for your workforce to understand each other better.

Additionally, they are able to see how other locations deal with similar problems and situations in a completely different way. This may encourage your employees to learn to think outside the box–and bring that thinking back to their own teams.

5. Create Mentorship Programs

Hiring a diverse workforce is important, but mentorship programs are a key component of workplace diversity programs to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to advance.

Employees with high potential should be offered mentors regardless of their age, race, sex, or other factors. If a company-sponsored mentorship program isn’t feasible for your company, there are other ways of providing similar opportunities.

Encourage less-structured professional development opportunities like continuing education, outside employee resource groups dedicated to young professionals, women’s leadership, and other culturally-relevant factors. Make sure your leadership team reflects diversity as well by hiring and promoting diverse candidates into those roles.

While these are all great ways to promote workplace diversity, it’s always important to set a good example from the top down. When the C-suite is directly involved in workplace diversity programs or initiatives to improve inclusion, employees take notice.

CEOs in particular can help their company attract the best – and most diverse – talent by being involved in diversity promotion. Prioritizing workplace diversity through intentional, focused, employee engagement programs has a direct impact on employees. It improves overall satisfaction, performance, retention, communicates your company's core values, and bolsters your brand identity and reputation.

6. [BONUS] Offer Workplace Flexibility

OK, I know we promised you five ways to promote workplace diversity, but we're throwing this one in as a bonus.

Workplace flexibility includes employees having more agency over when a where they work. Offering this to your team can help make your workplace more inviting and accommodating to working moms, commuters, or folks who may need to work remotely part time.  

Download our "15 Best Practices for Employee Engagement" eBook and improve internal communications throughout your organization.