8 Ways to Cultivate Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent, and harder-working. When people are brought together to solve problems in groups, they bring different information, opinions and perspectives. The longer you wait to build a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, the harder it will be in the future.

Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints, and to expect reaching consensus.

So much of what it takes to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace is about approaching tasks every company has to do anyway, but in a much more thoughtful and deliberate way. Here's what you can do:

1. Convert all job descriptions to gender-neutral language. Audit all of your job descriptions s to check for any use of ‘he/his/him’ as a default and convert them to gender-neutral pronouns like ‘he or she’ or ‘they’.

2. State your commitment to building a diverse and inclusive culture in your job descriptions and careers page. One simple sentence can send a strong message to your applicants.

3. Write results-based job descriptions. Studies have found, men apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will only apply when they meet 100 percent of them. Instead of being based on a checklist of skills, job descriptions should ideally focus on what a candidate will be expected to achieve in a month, six months, or a year into the job.

4. Diversify your communication by actively sourcing candidates. For example, set up a coffee date each week with a different type of profile. You may end up hiring the best employee you’ve ever had.

5. Request a diverse range of referrals. Emphasize that diversity requires deliberate effort, and it’s something all employees can help. It will make your team stronger in the long run.

6. Administrate blind screenings to curtail unconscious biases in the resume review process. Studies have shown that people with ethnic names need to send out more resumes before they get a callback, and that resumes with female names are rated lower than ones with male names when all other things on a resume are equal.

7. Implement a structured interviewing process and training. This isn’t to say that you must stick to a strict script in your interviews – candidates often share important insights when conversations flow naturally – but structured interviews lead to higher-quality hires because they help reduce bias and “gut-feeling” hiring. By asking each candidate the same or a similar set of questions, you have a consistent “data set” to help boost objective decision-making. Structured interviews will allow your team to learn and improve your recruiting process faster, as well.

8. Introduce diversity and inclusion early on in the employee’s cycle. Communicate why your company cares about diversity and inclusivity and explain how you define it along with your expectations. Find what works for you!