The workplace is the perfect venue for embracing and celebrating the facts that make us all unique while seeking to better understand those who are different from us. When these differences are harnessed, wonderful things can happen. The best teams are a mix of different strengths, perspectives and experiences.
As an HR professional for over 20 years, I have witnessed many circumstances where diversity in the workplace was a crucial element that determined success or failure. I’m sure you’ve read the same data I have that establish all the positive outcomes employers experience when they have a diverse workplace. Diverse organizations tend to be more innovative, productive, and profitable. When you have a culture that embraces and encourages the voicing of varying opinions from people with a variety of talents and backgrounds, you increase the likelihood that great ideas will be shared. There are all kinds of things that you’re not going to see if everybody in your organization thinks the same way based on similar shared experiences. Your consumers are a rainbow, and if you’re just catering to the color blue, then you’re going to miss out on what all the rainbow might need from you!
Historically, our society put up barriers to certain populations that created an uneven playing field. We’re still seeing data that shows that we’re not across the finish line when it comes to pay equity. We’re also still a work in progress when it comes to hiring practices and eliminating bias from employment decisions. Part of what I love about my job is being on the front lines of this change. Here at Delta Dental of Arizona, we strive to be a diverse company, and that shows in our core values. Inclusion is a big part of who we are and this is where we honor diversity by promoting respect, honesty, dignity and belonging. We don’t want our employees questioning whether they belong. We strive to be a company where everyone feels comfortable to be exactly who they are, and our demographics reflect the diverse community we live and work in.
How Can a Company Adopt Diversity?
If your business is still in the process of adopting a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, don’t be discouraged! It’s not too late to get started. Spend some time understanding your present employee population and why it’s unique. Look at the employees around you — if you don’t see a diverse workgroup, it might be time to make a change. For example, a previous employer of mine asked me why there were no women working in a certain department. In fact, there wasn’t even a women’s restroom in that area! This was a not-so-subtle hint that the company didn’t think women belonged there. So, what did I do? I moved my office into this area. We also reinstalled a women’s restroom, which had been turned into a storage area. This was a small first step to making a change for my organization and on behalf of all employees.
Look at the community around you in terms of ethnicity, gender, race, etc. Does your work demographic look like your community? It should. If it doesn’t, ask yourself if you’ve truly established a welcoming environment for everyone.
How Can Companies Celebrate Diversity Month?
There are so many ways to acknowledge and celebrate diversity! Here at Delta Dental of Arizona, we love food and have many food-related celebrations. If your company is getting together this month, you can host a potluck where everyone brings in a food item from their culture or sponsor a meal with a diverse menu.
Another way to celebrate diversity is to recognize your employees. This can be done online through social media posts, internally through company-wide emails or your intranet, or in team meetings. Recognizing your employees demonstrates to those both inside and outside of your organization that people of different ethnicities, genders, races and more are helping to grow and innovate your organization.
Be the Change
Having a diverse workplace brings more opportunities for more people and for your organization. Take this opportunity to embrace diversity by recruiting a wide range of unique, talented and varied employees with distinct backgrounds and experiences. Look around your organization for space to be the change and don’t forget to celebrate the employees in your organization who demonstrate your values and represent diverse thought. Take the time today to celebrate diversity and make a difference in your organization.