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To Achieve Workplace Diversity, Go Beyond Good Intentions

To Achieve Workplace Diversity, Go Beyond Good Intentions

By Dan Woog | Monster Contributing Writer

Show Diversity, and Take a Stand

Companies hoping to attain and retain diverse workforces should also encourage the formation of affinity groups, such as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American and gay/lesbian networks. BSR also recommends company-wide diversity councils and task forces. To communicate company values, Hirschland suggests all Web sites and promotional materials should show diversity and, when possible, include the firm’s diversity policy. A commitment to diversity should be discussed often, in meetings large and small.

Companies should also consider taking a proactive approach to diversity-related public-policy issues, says Hirschland. He cites as one example Microsoft’s support of a Washington state gay-rights bill, which sent a positive message to the gay/lesbian community.

Peter Bye, president of MDB Group, a Livingston, New Jersey, consulting firm focusing on diversity and inclusion, advocates doing more than putting policies and programs into practice. “Ultimately, it’s about getting in the heads of hiring and promotion managers and talking in terms of difference,” he says. “It’s asking people in positions of power, ‘How do you think of difference? Is it negative or something to be valued? Do you want to select someone like you – a low-risk choice – or do you seek out someone with a different set of perspectives and values?’”

Use Assessment Tools

Bye says that assessment instruments can help people understand their current degree of “intracultural sensitivity.” Subsequent coaching can develop greater “cultural competence.” He knows this may turn some people off. “If you’ve got a large white-male executive team, they probably won’t think positively of it,” Bye admits. “But if you show them an instrument that can help, that can make a real difference.”

Still, many successful diversity efforts begin with human resources. Hirschland says good HR departments post positions in many places (including minority-oriented Web sites) and participate in job fairs hosted by diverse communities.

Although diversity and inclusion may be driven from the top down, its success may be felt from the bottom up. That’s why it’s so important today to plant the seeds for tomorrow. “Bring in a diverse group of interns,” Riojas says. “Provide scholarships, fellowships and cooperative programs to help minorities when they’re in college. Investing in minority communities will pay off big time in loyalty.”

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