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To Achieve Workplace Diversity, Go Beyond Good Intentions

To Achieve Workplace Diversity, Go Beyond Good Intentions

Dan Woog, Monster Contributing Writer

It’s taken a while, but these days most companies understand that employing a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good business.

But good intentions are one thing. Actually hiring and promoting men and women with varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions and sexual orientations is another. Here’s how companies and workers can do what they say.

Show Diverse Faces

The process begins even before recruitment and employment interviews, says Anna Morales Riojas, chairwoman of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. A company truly committed to inclusion should run ads that show a diverse group of people. That positions the organization in customers’ minds as one that values diversity –- and customers often become job applicants, Riojas notes.

Recruitment teams traveling to job fairs and college campuses must also be diverse, says Riojas. “It’s not necessary to communicate in Spanish,” she says. “But showing faces that people in our community can relate to really helps.”

Put the Mission Statement into Practice

Companies should include references to diversity in their mission or values statements to signal an explicit commitment to all employees, suggests Matt Hirschland, director of communications for Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a San Francisco organization. Even more crucial to attracting a diverse pool of applicants are actions that reflect diversity from the top down. According to BSR, simply having black, brown, yellow and female faces in high positions is not enough. All staff, including top management, must receive regular, ongoing diversity training.

Make Diversity Goals Part of Company Plans

A diverse workforce is more likely when diversity goals are included in strategic-planning processes and managers are held responsible for specific objectives, says Hirschland. Diversity questions should be incorporated into employee surveys to determine whether current policies and programs are effective. And milestones and achievements involving diversity groups and individuals should be communicated and celebrated.

Show Diversity, and Take a Stand

Companies hoping to attain and retain diverse workforces should also encourage the formation of affinity groups, such as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American and gay/lesbian networks. BSR also recommends company-wide diversity councils and task forces. To communicate company values, Hirschland suggests all Web sites and promotional materials should show diversity and, when possible, include the firm’s diversity policy. A commitment to diversity should be discussed often, in meetings large and small.

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