Are you someone who owns a small business? Have you been wondering how you can create a more “diverse” workplace? Mckinsey recently did a study that suggests a link between “diversity” in the workplace, and financial performance. You may be wondering about that. You may be thinking that if you had a more “diverse” company, your bottom line would be a lot better. You are probably right. But diversity is not all that you need. You need inclusion too. In fact, according to McKinsey, diversity is where there is a “greater proportion of women and a more mixed ethnic and cultural composition in the leadership of large companies.”
So, “diversity” is really about the “leadership” in your small business and not necessarily the make-up of your workers. Isn’t that a hoot? You thought diversity was about the race and ethnicity and gender of your workers but in fact, it has more to do with the “composition of leadership in large companies.”
As a small business owner, your focus may not necessarily be on “diversity,” per se, but on “building a more diverse workplace.” So, what you may really be talking about is “inclusivity” which is different from “diversity”, per se. Depending on your specific situation as a small business owner, you may want to focus more on “inclusivity” than on “diversity.” It depends on your situation. Sure, it is possible that you need both, but sometimes, what you really need is a more “inclusive” workplace, as a small business owner.
Either way you cut it, building a more inclusive workplace, or a more diverse workplace can cost money. There are hidden costs of having and building a diverse and/or inclusive workplace. There could be additional costs for training, accessibility (as far as accommodating employees with physical disabilities), retention, and even benefits. Implementing diversity and inclusion practices and policies into a small business can be a huge financial expenditure for small business owners on the front end. But the investment is well worth it because studies show that a diverse and inclusive workplace is a more productive workplace.
To build a more “diverse” and “inclusive” workplace here are a few things to consider:
- Think about the types of customers you serve and try to reflect that in your workforce by recruiting with your customers in mind (in addition to other metrics). When your customers see themselves in the people who are serving them, they are more likely to have a positive impression about your company.
- Watch the culture of your company to make sure that at all times, your policies and practices in your company remain sensitive to different types of employees.
- Accessibility matters. All employees should feel that services, benefits, training and recruiting in your small business are equally accessible to them.
- Listen to your employees and be open-minded about making changes and adjustments as needed to encourage inclusivity, and diversity to flourish.
- Encourage team work, collaboration and mentorship to consciously foster an environment where employees value working together for the greater good of the business.
- Provide access to employee training in diversity and inclusion practices.
- Celebrate all cultures and discourage “discrimination.”
- Be conscious of the message your company sends with its social media outreach. Be sure that the images used are “inclusive” and be sure that the language you use could not be construed as “exclusionary” of any specific group.
- Make sure your website images reflect an inclusive workplace.
- Make it clear that your workplace has zero tolerance for bigotry, sexism, racism or any other type of discrimination, and have new employees sign an agreement to respect this rule.
Building a diverse and inclusive workplace takes time, patience, and creativity. It will never be a done deal. There will always be more work to do. This should not scare small business owners from trying to build and maintain a diverse and inclusive business. The benefits of a diverse and inclusive small business far outweigh the challenges posed.