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Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Pays Off: 3 Tips for Driving Increased Value


Guest Blog by Shayne Thomas at Cornerstone OnDemand.

You may have heard about this thing called “diversity.” A lot of people are talking about it these days. It may have actually popped up in water-cooler conversations from time to time. And if it hasn’t yet at your workplace, then this article is definitely for you. (So, keep on reading.)

The funny thing about workplace diversity, however, is that while most companies understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, very few know how to take action on it. This is especially the case for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)—that don’t necessarily have the luxury of staffing up a diversity-focused recruitment team—and may also help explain why we still see so many unintentionally homogenized workforces today. (But we’re not letting you off the hook that easily!) The truth is, creating a more diverse—and dare I say, welcoming—workplace rarely happens naturally. It’s got to be a conscious decision from the top down and across the entire organization. And with the right diversity recruitment tactics in place, even HR teams of one can drive meaningful change.


Now, let’s quickly take a step back. It’s very easy to simply nod your head every time someone says, “Don’t you agree that workplace diversity is important?” (Hint: no one in their right mind would ever want to argue with that.) But for those who think that simply talking the talk around diversity is enough, here are some stats that will, hopefully, make you want to start walking the walk, too. For example, research from McKinsey tells us that gender-diverse and ethnically-diverse companies are 15% and 35%, respectively, more likely to outperform companies that are not. In fact, they even found that EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margins are, on average, 21% stronger for diverse companies as well.

Why do you think that’s the case? Here’s a simple answer: because non-homogenized workforces approach their work in a non-homogenized way. A workforce made up of employees from different walks of life, different cultures, different professional experiences, different education—and so much more—will bring, purely by default, different and unique perspectives to the table in their day-to-day work life. And it’s this melting pot of experience, so to speak, that has helped give more diverse companies a cutting edge with their customers as well as a rather profound opportunity to mitigate groupthink. (The latter should make everyone rejoice!)

I can tell you, more subjectively, that driving workplace diversity is simply the right thing to do. But that’s not my job here. Pay close attention to the numbers because they don’t lie: diversity and inclusion in the workplace just makes better business sense. So, now that you’ve been equipped with some bottom line-boosting facts, here’s your chance to create a more diverse and high-performing workplace.

Here are a few tactical tips to get you moving in the right direction:

  • Wording matters:

Ever since childhood we’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover. But life has taught (many of) us that first impressions matter. Mixed messages aside, recent research shows that the way job postings are worded can have a direct correlation on the candidates who ultimately choose to apply for any given position. For example, in this research, the same job description was written twice: one using more conciliatory vocabulary while the other took on a rather aggressive tone. It should come as no surprise that 100% more women responded and applied to the more “friendly” job description. Here, first impressions made all the difference; how the job description was worded was the catalyst for female candidates self-selecting themselves out of applying for the job. So, the next time you get ready to post a new opening, take a second to re-read the job description to make sure you haven’t inadvertently excluded certain candidates from applying simply based on wording chosen.

  • Seek out diverse talent:

Platforms like LinkedIn offer recruiters a wealth of information that can breathe new life into their diversity recruitment efforts—and these tools are becoming more and more sophisticated each day. If you’ve noticed that your latest job posting is yielding a non-diverse array of applicants, be proactive and search for the kinds of candidates you want. Try typing in specific keywords or search by professional organizations, like the Professional Business Women of California. You’ll be amazed at how effective these tools can be for finding the right candidate to fill the job. So, when you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock, a simple search just might do the trick.

  • Avoid unconscious bias:

We are only human, and that means our unconscious bias—when stereotypes held by our subconscious can inadvertently influence our perception of others—can come into play when we least expect it. Even during an interview. So, to avoid this from happening, try creating a more structured interview process (i.e. the same set of prepared questions across all candidates) and even consider weaving in objective ability and aptitude tests to help mitigate bias even further. By standardizing your approach to interviewing and keeping all interview conversations focused on job or role at hand, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate candidates objectively and compare their qualifications effectively—whether or not unconscious bias rears its ugly head.

These are only a few starting points to give your diversity recruitment efforts a boost. If you’re ready to take it up a notch, we’ve got a special treat for you: we’ve unlocked three diversity and inclusion lessons from Cornerstone CyberU! So, dive in and learn more about how you can make workplace diversity a key driver of your business’s success.

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