Diversity is a crucial element of who we are as a society, but even now, in 2018, some businesses are struggling with the concept. While missteps can and do happen to the best of businesses when it comes to the sensitivity and being all-inclusive, how a company chooses to go about fixing the mistakes can make all the difference.
Take Starbucks for example. One of its locations recently made a questionable decision that could have cost the company dearly. So it closed 8,000 stores for diversity training of its employees. Some speculate the move might have saved the company from further backlash and could serve as an example for other businesses that find themselves in a similar situation.
Below, 13 members of Forbes Coaches Council share some of the measures organizations can take to educate their workforce on the importance of diversity, from creating a culture of inclusion to implementing ongoing learning programs, encouraging constant dialog or developing diverse teams.
1. Be Proactive
In an effort to ensure that employees understand the importance of diversity, inclusion and equal employment opportunity, organizations should develop training that is mandatory for all to complete. This will allow their workforce to be educated on the subject matter, and decrease the chances of any unfavorable situations. This training should be completed by employees every two years. – Nicole K. Webb, NK WEBB GROUP LLC
2. Start At The Leadership Level
Diversity can’t be limited to a once-in-a-while “initiative.” The most important thing a company can do is have its leadership be diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, education, age, etc. Having different views and experiences in the room naturally leads to more creative and inclusive solutions, and results in a company that doesn’t have to “try” to be diverse. – Jean Ali Muhlbauer, The Muhlbauer Companies, LLC
3. Encourage Dialogue All Year Long
Starbucks shut its doors to train and try to create a powerful statement. But what will happen when those lessons wear off? Lessons learned don’t stick without continuing communication. Create a safe place online and offline that allows continuing dialogue and encourages good decisions. Answer questions from staff and management about bias all year long. Welcome everyone equally. It’s good business. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
4. Develop Diverse Teams
Many organizations attempt to teach diversity but don’t practice it. Having diverse team members at all levels of your organization will ensure that your team members see the humanistic qualities in people of different backgrounds. Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk and do the work of finding qualified team members so that they can learn to work together and relate with one another. – LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group
5. Reinforce Values Daily
Periodic training and other initiatives are great but these are nothing without regular reminders. Companies must live and breathe the values they desire to be evident within their corporate culture. The biggest issue surrounding the Starbucks incident was the disconnect between the company’s intended values and the employees’ actual actions. Companies must have clear, well-communicated policies. – Niquenya Collins, Building Bridges Consulting
6. Create A Culture Of Inclusion
Go beyond the training and buzzwords. The key to success is to create a culture of inclusion — a culture where everyone feels welcome. Diversity can help some with that, but even when you don’t have diverse employees, if the culture incorporates other views, cultures, etc., when someone different walks in the door the employees can help them feel at home. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC
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