Diversity is an essential component of every thriving workplace, especially when it comes to employee engagement. Workplace diversity encourages creativity and innovation, according to CEOs interviewed by Harvard Business Review, because every team member, from leadership to frontline employees and mobile workers, bring a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the discussion. Those unique viewpoints have an invaluable impact on your business and workforce, impacting every aspect of your company.
Actively cultivating a range of employee engagement and internal communications strategies places diversity at the core of everything you do throughout the workplace, and demonstrates sustained commitment to employee connection for all. Here are five 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, this is a huge asset to your workforce and company.
2. Build 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 for employees to take off work for religious holidays that may not be otherwise 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 get 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. As the Harvard Business Review notes, CEOs in particular can help their company attract the best – and most diverse – talent by being involved in diversity promotion. Above all, prioritizing workplace diversity through intentional, focused employee engagement programs has a direct impact on employee satisfaction, performance, retention, communicates your company's core values and bolsters your brand identity and reputation.
Download our 15 Best Practices for Employee Engagement eBook to see how you can improve internal communications throughout your organization.