Now more than ever, diversity matters.

By Tania Mustafa, Talent Acquisition Expert  

Last week, a candidate reached out to me while preparing for an upcoming interview.  She told me “This sounds like a great role, but I have a concern.”  In a candidate’s market, “concerns” quickly become disinterest. While exploring the employer’s website this candidate noticed it listed leadership team bios and, except for a single female, the team was not diverse.  The result?  In an instant, the company lost out on a potential hire without ever meeting them.   

In this case, the lack of diversity immediately changed the candidate’s perception of and interest in working for the employer.  As a female, this candidate was unable to see how she could progress with the employer and took a hard pass on the opportunity and organization.    

As an employer, you may not have noticed it yet, but your diversity and inclusion policy (or lack thereof) can and does directly affect the talent you attract, retain or lose.

Now, more than ever, a company who wants to realize the full potential of their employees and stand the greatest chance of attracting top talent should be taking action to create safe and inclusive workplaces where employees of all genders, races, religions, personalities and backgrounds can achieve and advance.  Many companies cite diversity and inclusion among their core values. Unfortunately, a lot of them talk the talk but struggle to walk the walk in terms of implementation.    After comparing the processes of some of the top organizations championing the diversity and inclusion space, there appear to be 4 common rules leaders can follow to make their company more inclusive and diverse:  
1. Make sure everyone feels a sense of belonging   
Establishing a sense of belonging among employees is an indispensable step towards ensuring greater employee impact and engagement.  People who feel like they belong are more likely to take ownership in their work and tend to approach each day with their best foot forward. By actively seeking to foster an environment of belonging, employers stand to retain good employees and keep them satisfied, engaged and in a positive mental state that can help build morale.  

2. One size does not fit all 
Companies can easily become embedded with power structures and systems which lead to a hiring process that deems certain kinds of people a fit for the company and excludes others. In a talent hungry hiring market, that kind of thinking can kill an employer’s hiring brand.  Instead of having rigid processes for each employee to follow, inclusive and diverse workplaces focus on giving individuals the space to live their story of growth. This way all employees thrive and grow continuously.    

3. Maintenance is a must  

Diversity and inclusion can’t just be buzzwords.  It is not enough to demonstrate inclusivity as a one-off gesture; instead, it must become ingrained in the company culture. One has to strive to be able to explain what it means to be inclusive up to the point where it leads to behavioral change and acceptance among all employees. When a company offers a work environment with open conversations and healthy tension, real change is possible.    

4. Start small and be consistent  

Some of the quick and simple ways companies have made a difference in the lives of their diverse employees include inclusive changes like gender-neutral break rooms, meditation rooms, nursing rooms for mothers; recognizing all cultural festivals and holidays and flexible work hours.  

The best-proven examples of companies exercising inclusivity begin with actively seeking feedback from employees on how to make their workplace more inclusive and diverse.  This engagement makes employees feel that their opinions matter and that they are valued.  By following through and implementing changes based on employee feedback, employers can realize benefits including increased loyalty, productivity and even improve their hiring brand among potential hires.

About the author: Tania partners with top employers in the Charlotte market to fill critical talent gaps in the Accounting & Finance vertical. She has direct experience building successful teams for complex organizations/roles globally and cross-culturally. Connect with Tania at:

Sherpa LLC