Once you’ve got the hiring process smoothed out, the rest is straightforward: Create and enforce clear anti-discrimination guidelines. Offer diversity and sensitivity training classes to employees who aren’t sure how to handle any changes, and always remember that the most diverse teams are often the most successful ones.
Diversity is something of a catchphrase of the modern world. It is a testament to how far we’ve come, from shunning everyone who doesn’t look, think, and pray exactly like we do to at least trying to embrace the different perspectives and cultures of the people around us. But sometimes creating a diverse environment is easier said and done, especially in the workplace. In fact, building workplace diversity can be especially difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly, in order to hire new people from diverse backgrounds, there need to be openings available, which may not happen for months or years, especially if the company has a good employee retention rate. After all, firing employees just because they are too white/straight/male would be just as bad as hiring them for that reason. Secondly, there are a lot of difficulties to overcome when trying to get people from different backgrounds to work together and identify with one another. But don’t worry! As long as you’re willing to be patient and do the work, there are plenty of steps you can take to move your company’s diversity in a good direction.
As always, the best place to start is at the beginning: the hiring process. According to this CNN article, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door as a person of color applying for a job. In fact, the article states that people whose resumes “have ‘black-sounding’ names, like Jamal or Lakisha, are less likely to get a response.” Because of a long history of exposure to a fundamentally prejudiced society, hiring managers and executives, even non-white ones, tend to respond more favorably to stereotypically white names like Julie or Christopher. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this one. When reviewing resumes, simply have a staff member who is not otherwise involved with the hiring process remove the names from the resumes or applications and replace them with numbers. Then, only when you have selected the top resumes will you learn the names of the people you’re considering. In fact, if you want to take it a step further, you can even arrange a preliminary email interview by emailing each top candidate a list of questions to answer, thereby allowing you to learn more about them without being influenced by their voices, appearance, or even their age, which according to this Huffington Post article can also be an obstacle to diversity.