7 Steps to Help Drive Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

diversityThe business landscape is changing dramatically and workforce dynamics are undergoing a considerable transformation for the better. According to a 2015 McKinsey study, more diverse companies “have financial returns above their national industry medians.” Those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity, for example, are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

The world has become deeply interconnected, and as employee recruitment and retention competition intensifies, companies and institutions prioritizing diversity are the ones achieving better performance, from both a hiring and competitive positioning standpoint.

McKinsey Statistics


Diverse companies are better able to win top talent, ensure employee satisfaction, foster better decision making, and grow customer relationships, which lead to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. And this goes beyond diversity related to gender and ethnicity, extending on into age, sexual orientation, experience, and overall ways of thinking.

But, diversity does not simply happen. It is best achieved through dedicated programs that focus on specific goals – led and supported by an entire executive team that fosters active involvement from the wider organization.

To get you started, here are seven steps that will position you well for a more diverse and inclusive workforce:

  1. Put a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy in place that is driven by the leadership team.
  2. Create a clear value proposition for having an inclusive culture.
  3. Analyze the current structure, while learning from external best practices and understanding underlying mindsets.
  4. Define a rollout strategy for each diversity program, focusing on a flagship initiative to kick things off.
  5. Shift the conversation from managing individual performance to nurturing the collective, authentic team.
  6. Don’t make the mistake of adopting a single diversity program to cover all diversity focus areas (race, gender, etc). Address needs for each with an eye toward overall business success, since every individual has unique contributions.
  7. Commit to diversity as a strategic imperative. This includes aligning your company more closely with an increasingly heterogeneous customer base, which will also enable you to forge stronger bonds with customers.

Ultimately, you can transform the way you look at talent acquisition and workforce development through better cultural understanding. The world is more profoundly integrated than ever before and organizations with greater levels of diversity and inclusion are simply performing better. Bottom line: an inclusive workforce is not an option – it is a business imperative in today’s changing marketplace.