Staff Diversity Is a Great Way To Strengthen Your Business
Hiring a diverse staff to grow your customer base? Diversify your offerings. Looking for a safety net for investments? Diversify your portfolio. Want your marketing campaigns to succeed? Diversify your staff.
That’s right, hiring a diverse staff could be the key to reaching more customers, according to Adrianne Troilo, Chief Administrative Officer for the American Society for Engineering Education. “A mix of employee backgrounds leads to results that can resonate with a much wider audience,” said Troilo.
A snapshot of the population shows a broad and rapidly changing composition of potential consumers.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2042, there will be no single demographic majority as people of color will comprise more than 50 percent of the United States.
The same study also says that 20 percent of all Americans will be affected by a disability, and five different generations will be active in workplaces.
Troilo says that in order to communicate effectively, it is important that the people crafting that message reflect the intended audience. “Including a mix of backgrounds, heritage, experience and education into a team has immense benefits,” said Troilo.
How can my company go about hiring a diverse staff?
Diversity has been an important topic in nearly every industry for some time now. While there are legal requirements for non-discrimination in hiring practices, there are practical business reasons as well. Trumpeting diversity as a strategy has become commonplace for companies; however, putting a strategy into practice can be a little more difficult. There are a few reasons for this, including misinterpretation of the definition, an adverse attitude toward the goal or just a basic inability to grasp the concept.
“What it boils down to is creating a staff that includes varying backgrounds,” said Troilo. “Assembling a diverse staff should be a goal for any company that serves a wide customer base.”
Is there a checklist for hiring a diverse staff?
No, there isn’t a handy list to check off for hiring a diverse staff, and that is where most companies get hung up, according to Troilo, adding that organizations limit themselves by trying to hire specifically for diversity purposes.
“Varying the work experiences, education levels and ages within a team can work toward accomplishing the goal the same way as race and gender do. It is up to you to decide how much diversity is required to maximize your group’s potential,” she emphasized.
What’s the best way in hiring a diverse staff?
The best way to hire a diverse staff is to enter the hiring process with an open mind and commitment to finding the candidates that best fit your needs, regardless of their background.
For example – don’t limit your hiring process for a sales position only to people with sales experience. If you interview someone who is engaging and charismatic, but has spent years in marketing, he or she might be the right hire for the sales team. The same goes for education. While an Ivy League degree looks great on paper, maybe someone with a high school diploma and years of experience will relate better to your customer base. Opening the door to all types of applicants will give you access to a wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds and experience.
What if I am not in a position to make a lot of hires at this time?
You may be closer to your goals than you realize. Diversity can come from the inside of your organization as well. Evaluate your current staff and see how teams and pairings can be designed to increase diversity within those groups.
“Shake things up. Who knows, maybe Jane from accounting has some ideas that the sales team might benefit from hearing?” Troilo remarked.
Once I build a diverse team, then what?
It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Step two is all about inclusion.
“If diversity is the mix, inclusion is what makes it work,” Troilo said. “Inclusion is the deliberate act of welcoming diversity and creating an environment where all different kinds of people can thrive and succeed. Diversity is what you have, inclusion is what you do.”
Just like with any plan, there should be some form of short- and long-term goals and a reasonable plan for success, conveyed Troilo. Developing the team is important, but the plan for that team is paramount.
“Create a culture where everyone feels comfortable and is encouraged to add their opinions and share input,” Troilo said. “It won’t happen overnight; however, establishing a work space that invites insights from everyone will eventually generate big returns for your company.
Editor’s note: Adrianne Troilo is the Chief Administrative Officer for the American Society for Engineering Education. The information for this blog is based on Troilo’s presentation at the 2019 Associated Equipment Distributors Summit.