Policies to Promote Diversity in the Workplace

by Caroline Banton

    Good organizations realize that there are benefits to be gained from well-managed diversity programs in their workplaces. Ignoring these benefits can increase the risk of falling behind the competitors that are more attuned to the need for human capital investment. For the job-seeker, finding an employer that encourages diversity and has polices in place is a step toward opportunities for personal development and growth.

    Establishing a company's baseline position regarding diversity policies will provide a means for measuring progress and determining priority areas. An employee satisfaction survey will deliver valuable data. Include staff input in policy changes you make to send a message that their opinions are valued and respected. The results can be a launching pad for a diversity management plan that all employees can benefit from and support. Diversity training is an excellent place to start. It should involve all staff, especially managers and supervisors, who will be expected to model a culture of openness and diversity.

    Diversity training for managers can make the recruitment process transparent and inform them of the advantages in developing a diverse workforce. An article in "The Wall Street Journal" by Carol Hymowitz reported that Ernst & Young and IBM reward managers for their encouragement and recruitment of women and minorities. Finding a diverse pool of applicants involves reaching out and forming networking relationships with minority groups and institutions involved with students, persons with disabilities and women. Retain talent by offering career development and reward schemes, welcome new recruits with induction training and a mentoring program. From the employee perspective, such programs can make adjusting to a new job much easier.

    A diverse workforce will require flexibility on the behalf of the employer and will be appreciated by employees. Individual needs vary when it comes to balancing home and work. Offering benefits such as on-site day care, childcare subsidies, flexible schedules, and respecting different religious holidays are ways to show respect for employees' needs. A report for the Families and Work Institute by Dana E. Friedman said that companies that offer flexible work options find that they benefit diversity initiatives and are the most effective method of retaining valued employees.

    Diversity programs and progress should be monitored. Seek feedback from staff at least one a year, and use the results to measure progress against goals and milestones. Conduct exit interviews for departing staff to gather their opinions and experiences. Understand that organizational change is an ongoing process; you must make adjustments as perspectives and needs change.

    About the Author

    Caroline Banton has more than 14 years of experience in the communications and publishing fields, working in global development and finance. Her articles have covered business, economics and recruitment, among other topics. Banton holds an M.B.A. in marketing management.

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