Diversity and Inclusion at the Top

In Leadership Resources, Strategy Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

Diversity is an important, ongoing conversation during these tumultuous times … and the workplace is an important place where things must change. While the middle market boasts comparatively faster growth of women- and minority-owned businesses, diverse groups are still underrepresented in the businesses space. The regrettable fact of the matter is that not all middle market companies understand the benefits of having a diverse workplace, especially at the top, or they haven’t yet changed hiring practice to reflect that philosophy even if they understand those benefits.

Addressing the Problem

The word diversity in the workplace has perhaps become overused or diluted, and companies may pay lip service to the idea of diversity without changing their current practices.

What does diversity really mean? The basic definition of diversity is variety—if an organization is truly diverse, it employs a wide variety of different kinds of people from different kinds of backgrounds across all levels of the company, including in leadership roles.  The company culture is one of equality, inclusion, belonging, and continual learning and assessment in how to be more inclusive. This may sound like a tall order, but since the company culture is set by the leadership, hiring a diverse team of leaders is an excellent way to start and continue this process—and it goes without saying that it’s also the right thing to do.

More Creativity and Innovation

Minorities and women are underrepresented in business leadership, even in the middle market. Besides demonstrating a lack of equality and opportunity—a great job at a great company can be wonderful, life-changing opportunity—lack of diversity can impair a company’s success. This lack of diversity at the top trickles down to the rest of the company because the actual tone/culture is not one of inclusion or acceptance, regardless of the company’s mission or motto. Diversity begets diversity, and diversity also often begets success.

Beyond just being the right thing to do, businesses with a diverse workforce have been proven to perform better in terms of financial returns. When compared with companies lacking diversity, companies with significant racial diversity are likely to perform 15 times better. Why?

Local Knowledge Improves Business Overseas

If your middle market company operates beyond the USA’s borders, having an edge over your competitors becomes even more necessary when you break into the international market. Having diversity at the top can give you insights into international markets—language barriers, local rates and customs–that you would otherwise be lacking, as well as an understanding of work culture in the desired foreign market.

Higher Employee Retention

When your middle market company is all-inclusive and has a diverse group of people in leadership positions, you are likely to have happier employees that want to stay in their jobs because they feel a level of trust and comfort from the organization. Inclusion is key: if you have a diverse workforce but they do not feel included or valued, they will not stay with your company. However, if your whole staff feels included, seen, and heard, and feels as if they are a valued member of the organization, your retention rates will be much higher.

Next Steps?

Diversity in the workplace should no longer be a debated topic; rather, it should be common practice.

The vast majority of companies will likely tell you that they are interested in hiring a diverse workforce and actively seeking out a diverse pool of candidates for the above reasons. However, saying and doing are two very different things, and many companies fall short when hiring new talent.

The first thing to do is address unconscious biases: everyone has them, and recognizing them, saying them out loud, and addressing them are key in moving forward in diversity and inclusion. Communication is, of course, also key. The only way to know if your staff feels included is to ask them, and then act upon that knowledge where things could be improved.

A good recruiter with a holistic approach to hiring can improve more than just your company’s candidate pool—making sure a candidate is a good fit for the company culture beyond their resume and vice versa, really understanding the goals and vision of the company, and helping companies improve practices when the culture is not one that is really diverse or inclusive

Diversity and inclusion at the top are necessary for diversity and inclusion company-wide and are necessary for your business to be successful in the future. If your company would like to improve its diverse hiring practices, is currently recruiting for a leadership role, or has plans to recruit in the future, ROI can help.  If you would like to explore diversity in your company, get in touch with ROI today so you can get access to top talent across the board.

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