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Diversity Is More Than Just Hiring

How to build a truly diverse workplace.

· Startup Development,Culture

Dear People Ops,

I work in recruiting for a startup. While diversity is important to our company, it's entirely focused on recruiting efforts. I feel like we're missing something not thinking about how we can make our company diverse in ways beyond hiring diverse candidates. Any suggestions?

You've hit on something near and dear my heart. While I'm excited to see the recent push for diversity in hiring, especially in tech, I agree creating diverse workplaces is so much more than just hiring. Below are some suggestions for how your company can take the next step.

1. Understand the Benefits of Diversity

While the push to hire a more diverse workforce is well intentioned, companies typically miss developing understanding and buy-in of why diversity is important. If the company doesn't understand and articulate to its employees and managers why diversity is important diversity will always be viewed as a surface level initiative, rather than a driver of competitive advantage.

Try using some of the explanations outlined in Forbes: "Extensive research has been conducted on the business-related benefits of diversity. One study in particular focused on the perks of thought diversity and found that ethnically varied businesses reap the rewards of improved innovation, better decision-making, and a more effective utilization of their workforce. I would also argue that it breeds creativity, leads to sales growth, and improves employee retention."

2. Elevate Diversity Beyond HR

To be successful, diversity efforts can't live with just Human Resource or recruiting. From Deloitte Insights: "Consider diversity and inclusion as part of the corporate infrastructure, just like compliance, IT, and security; it must be practiced by everyone and owned by all line leaders. Diversity and inclusion is a business responsibility, not an HR responsibility."

3. Diversity As Part of Your Brand

Think about how you can highlight the importance of diversity to your employees and customers through your policies, procedures and cultural norms. Diversity isn't hanging a giant banner that reads "Diverse people welcome", it's using hundreds of small business decisions - around pay, flexible time, etc - to signal that your company is a place for everyone. From PowertoFly Founder Katharine Zaleski "We focus on what the environment is like. We focus on the lifestyle aspects of the job in many ways....We're working with one major company and we highlight that they give forty hours of paid volunteer time, or there's another major company that lets you take a certain amount of wellness time in addition to your time off. Another company that we're working with, you have to basically go through ten pages of their website to see that they actually very much encourage flexible work environments. It's sort of funny, in the job descriptions, they never talk about that."

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