How do you build a company that is inclusive, and reflective of the diversity we see in the communities we call home?

It’s a question on the minds of many business owners and hiring managers, and it begins with understanding that diversity encompasses more than the two identifiers most often discussed: Race and gender.

According to Gallup, diversity refers to “the full spectrum of human demographic differences,” including age, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and socio-economic background. Increasingly, companies are also making room for demographics on that list, placing diversity of lifestyle, personality characteristics, opinions, family composition, and levels of education under that same umbrella.

Diversity works in tandem with inclusion: Hire quality candidates that represent the spectrum of society, and foster an environment where those employees feel empowered to contribute their unique perspectives.

It may seem like common sense, but it’s also a smart business move.

According to a report by Human Resources Director Canada, companies that hire diverse and differently-abled workers enjoy increased revenues of up to 35 percent. That stat is backed up by a Wall Street Journal article from 2019 that showed diverse companies outperform less diverse ones with better operating results and better performing shares.

Why? There are a few reasons:

  • Different people, different perspectives. An employee who developed skills through experience, rather than academic training, may bring an entirely different approach to a particular task..and vice versa. Diversity can pave the way for  greater efficiency and innovation.
  • Better understanding. Customers from other cultures or with physical limitations may engage with your products and services differently. They may have questions you’ve never considered. An employee whose understanding comes from personal knowledge and real-world experience may be in a better position to forge long-term business relationships with those customers.
  • Increased engagement and retention. The reality is that people who feel secure, valued and respected at work are more inclined to speak up – to offer up ideas and discuss their own, unique vantage points. The benefit? Increased engagement, productivity and a level of overall satisfaction that can lead to better retention rates.

So, how do you recruit and retain employees who can help you create that environment?

  • Provide training. You and/or your hiring managers may approach hiring and promotions with an unconscious bias that is getting in the way of creating and maintaining a more diverse, inclusive company. The good news is that many communities now offer onsite unconscious bias training; invite your entire team.
  • Use interview panels. An individual hiring manager can bring all sorts of biases to the table, while a panel is more likely to offer a broader range of perspectives, ensuring a more fair, equitable process.
  • Assess your recruitment methods. Are you engaging with job sites, career fairs and recruitment agencies that make an effort to connect with underrepresented groups?
  • Be up front. If diversity and inclusion matter to your company, get the word out: Incorporate that commitment into your tagline or branding, include it in your job descriptions, and stress it with your recruiter.

Remember: This is a process, and an ongoing opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace it by finding ways to build these values into your company every day – not just when it comes to recruitment and retention. We’re here to help you every step of the way.