Executive Master of Leadership Blog

9 Thoughtful Ways to Welcome Diversity in the Workplace

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 10, 2018 10:48:00 AM / by USC Price

Diversity in the workplace is a challenge for executive leadership.  Fostering an organizational culture of inclusion facilitates getting diverse perspectives into senior ranks.

A significant challenge for executives and HR professionals is building an organizational culture that encourages diversity in the workplace. In this article, we'll explore what diversity looks like and then discuss nine thoughtful ways to create a more diverse workforce.

Diversity in the Workplace

According to Karen Greenbaum, President and CEO of the global Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) diversity has come a long way in the past decade but has a much slower trend in the C-suite.

In a recent article she explains that understanding the need for diversity is essential, but fostering an organizational culture of inclusion that facilitates diverse perspectives in senior positions is the real challenge.

How does diversity look?

The diversity wheel illustrates how permanent or visible characteristics (age, gender, etc.) and acquired dimensions (political alignment, education, etc.) create a comprehensive range of combinations that, "influence our values, beliefs, behaviors, experiences, and expectations" and make every person genuinely unique.

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9 Thoughtful Ways to Welcome Diversity in the Workplace

1. Define "Culture Fit"

Every organization should define a culture fit for their company. A well-defined culture fit helps human resource professionals identify candidates who will adapt to their organization with as little friction as possible.

2. Take Harvard’s Implicit-Association Test (IAT)

Generally, we like to think we are understanding of visible characteristics; however, we may have inherent or unconscious biases towards people who are different from us. Do you have implicit biases? You can find out using Harvard’s Implicit-Association Test.

3. Create referral quotas

Many organizations look to their current employees for new hiring opportunities. This is an excellent method for building a team but has obvious drawbacks. Many times we refer people who are like us which can create a lopsided, non-diverse workforce. If your company has referral quotes, ask your team to refer one person that is different from you for every one referral that is similar to you.

4. Aim for diverse hiring panels

Throughout the interview process aim to create diverse hiring panels in order to gain in-depth insights into your prospective hires. By representing multiple perspectives at each stage of the interview process applicants will feel more comfortable and the company will be positioned to learn more.

5. Discuss biases openly

To create a more inclusive culture and foster a greater appreciation for diversity in the workplace, employees should be encouraged to discuss biases openly. Approach your co-workers with humility and respect if you have questions about how you can be more accommodating.

6. Use neutral pronouns

Gender identity is a hot topic of debate. Because we can't know a person's gender identity without asking explicitly, it is best to use neutral pronouns such as singular they or job titles in email communications and job descriptions.

7. Keep your language simple

English is not everyone’s first language. So whether its internal email communications or inbound marketing, keep your writing simple. Simple language leads to better understanding and helps people with busy schedules and full inboxes.

8. Be wary of cultural metaphors and humor

What may be a standard reference for you and me, might not translate for someone else. When communicating in-person, in emails, or with clients, avoid colloquialisms, cultural metaphors and humor to avoid causing confusion or alienation.

9. Put job descriptions to the test

If you're looking to hire a more diverse workforce, ensure that your job descriptions are reflective of inclusivity. In addition to using neutral pronouns, straightforward language, test job descriptions before publishing them. A simple tool to test the efficacy of job descriptions is Textio.


Topics: Organizational Culture, Leadership Development

USC Price

Written by USC Price

The USC Price School of Public Policy's Executive Master of Leadership degree program is designed for experienced professionals ready to take their leadership to the next level.

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