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Diversity and Inclusion are (Rightly) the Latest Buzz in the Corporate World

A diverse group of professionals sitting around a table brainstorming ideas.

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Companies that are diverse and inclusive generally have happier employees and foster more innovation and engagement than companies that don’t have any policies around diversity and inclusion. The support for D&I initiatives began with ordinary workers, but nowadays, CEOs are embracing the idea, too.

“As industry leaders, we are seizing the opportunity to help drive meaningful change in the communities we serve,” said William E. Ford, CEO of private equity firm General Atlantic. “Acting now and having open conversations about diversity and inclusion in the workplace will empower our people to deliver their best work which will undoubtedly lead to greater business.”

Ford, along with more than 150 other CEOs, has signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, currently the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

These CEOs understand that diversity has grown beyond just gender and race and that the understanding of diversity and inclusion has shifted to mean creating environments where a variety of different voices are encouraged and heard. It involves active listening, recognition of privilege, and the understanding that diversity in the workplace includes many factors like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, generation or age, disability, personality type, and thinking style, just to name a few.

They also understand that a sincere commitment to and implementation of diversity and inclusion in the hiring process can improve corporate performance, drive growth, and enhance employee engagement.

“We believe in the importance of building strength through diversity and cultivating an inclusive environment where all our people feel valued for who they are,” said Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert. “By breaking down barriers, finding common ground, and providing a platform for shared experiences, employees will be empowered to be their authentic selves and express their greatest talents to do their best work and reach their full potential in every aspect of their life.”

If you’re considering strengthening your commitment to diversity and inclusion in your workplace, here are a few tips from companies that have done so successfully.

Use gender-neutral language in job descriptions

Audit all of your company’s job descriptions to check for any use of “he, his, or him” as a default and convert them to gender neutral pronouns like “he or she” or “they.” Watch for gender-coded language that could discourage women from applying. Lever recommends the Gender Decoder for Job Ads for checking your job descriptions and job listings for gendered language.

Recognize and train employees about unconscious bias

Many people aren’t aware of the biases they carry. Those biases can affect everything from relationships between colleagues to the types of referrals employees give for open job positions. Unconscious bias can also harm job seekers: studies have shown, for example, that people with “black-sounding” names on their resumes were less likely to be invited for interviews than people with white-sounding names, even if they were equally qualified. Facebook has a great series of videos on recognizing and managing unconscious bias.

Ban “culture fit” as a reason for not hiring a candidate

If you’re rejecting interviewees for “culture fit” or a “gut feeling,” that indicates unconscious bias has come into the equation. If an interviewer uses gut feelings or culture fit as reasons not to invite a candidate back for another interview or hire them despite good references and qualifications, challenge them to come up with a more specific explanation. It’s a great way to uncover hidden biases and have conversations about them.

What have you done to bring diversity and inclusion into your workplace? Do you have any more tips for employers wanting to do so? Please let us know in the comments.

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