DEI

HR’s Cheat Sheet to Diversity Management

19 March 2024

13 min read

Kelsey Breton
Kelsey Breton

What is diversity management?

Diversity management has become an essential aspect of effective organizational leadership in today’s globalized world. The practice of diversity management goes beyond simply having a diverse workforce; it’s about actively fostering an inclusive environment where individuals from various backgrounds, identities, races, sexual orientations, faiths and genders feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents to your organization. 

Diversity management involves implementing various policies and strategies throughout your entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and hiring practices to management development programs and ongoing training initiatives.

By embracing diversity management, organizations can unlock various benefits. A diverse and inclusive workplace not only promotes fairness and equality for all employees but also fosters greater creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities. Additionally, it can enhance your organization’s employer brand, attracting and retaining top talent from a wider pool of qualified talent.

Why should HR leaders prioritize diversity management?

diversity management

Aside from it being the right thing to do, diversity leads to stronger, more informed decision making and leads to more profitable outcomes for customers as well as the communities and customers they serve. By bringing a wider array of experiences into your organization, you welcome new perspectives and ways to approach problem solving. In an increasingly globalized world, diversity can help companies be more intune with the varied needs of their customers and thus lead to higher profitability.

The data agrees, research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. And Harvard Business Review reports teams that mirror the diversity of their customers are better able to understand market needs and opportunities, leading to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Whatsmore, diversity management is a must for attracting and retaining talent. As Gen Z takes the workforce by storm, a commitment to DEI is a sure-fire way to pique their interest. In fact, a 2019 survey by Glassdoor found 67% of job seekers care about D&I, and 36% of employees aged 18-44 consider D&I important when determining where to work.

Learn more:

Benefits of Diversity Management

It’s clear that diversity management is not just about doing the right thing; it’s about doing good business. By fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, organizations can unlock innovative ideas, attract and retain top talent, better understand their customers, and ultimately, drive increased profitability. Let’s take a closer look at how diversity management in the workplace benefits both employees and organizations.

For employees

Empowerment and belonging

When individuals feel valued and respected for their unique perspectives and experiences, it fosters a sense of empowerment and belonging that benefits and compensation cannot provide. Being a part of a team where your experiences are celebrated and you feel welcome can lead to increased confidence and motivation to contribute their best work. 

Personal growth and development

Centering diversity management helps expose individuals to a wider range of ideas and perspectives, which can spark personal growth and development. This can take form in both big and small ways, from celebrating Lunar New Year at work or prioritizing International Women’s Day to committing to impactful DEI policies and leveraging local policies such as mental well-being programs. Diversity management in the workplace promoted opportunities for employees to learn about different cultures, experiences, and approaches to work.

Career advancement

Diverse workplaces often have more equitable promotion opportunities based on merit and performance, rather than biases or favoritism. When we welcome diversity into our organizations, particularly among leadership, we open up fairer pathways for career advancement for individuals from all backgrounds. In fact, BCG research found in companies with diverse leadership, employees are 45% more likely to report that they’ve had a pay raise or promotion in the past year. And a Women in the Workplace study by Leanin.org reports women are more likely to be promoted to manager when there are other women in senior positions. These numbers further highlight the importance of representation and diversity management.

For organizations

Talent acquisition and retention

A diverse and inclusive workplace is more attractive to top talent, as individuals from diverse backgrounds are more likely to see themselves represented and have a fulfilling career path. Diverse leadership signals that all employees have the potential for advancement. It can break down barriers and inspire individuals from underrepresented groups to pursue ambitious career goals. This leads to a stronger talent pool and reduced attrition rate.

Enhanced employee engagement and motivation

When employees feel valued and respected regardless of their background, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. According to McKinsey research, employees are three times more likely to be highly engaged when they work in diverse and inclusive teams. Employee engagement is directly linked to productivity, innovation, and creativity, which in turn drives revenue.

Reduced risk of discrimination and litigation

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment also helps to mitigate the risk of discrimination and legal issues related to bias or unfair treatment. Actively investing in diversity management initiatives will help your organization identify any discriminatory or unequal practices, and reduce the likelihood of future bias within your organization. This leads the way for a more equitable, positive, and productive work environment for everyone.

Diversity Management Challenges and Their Solutions

Diversity management in the workplace is a worthy effort to invest in, but it’s not without its challenges. It’s important for HR leaders to understand the potential risks and roadblocks that may arise when implementing diversity and inclusion management so you can overcome any challenges as they come.

Leadership commitment

Like most major initiatives, leadership buy-in is a must. “All the well intentions or great processes that you may have, if you want to implement it, you’ll always need leadership”, says Sara Fisher, Group Head of People & Culture at MoneySmart

But securing leadership buy-in isn’t always that simple. It’s important to know your audience when securing leadership buy-in, and you can do so by appealing to their interests. “It’s not one size fits all. It really depends on how they [leadership] communicate and what’s important to them. But from a practical standpoint, explain to them how an initiative contributes to the company bottom line and especially down to attrition, that resonates with their interests and helps to get their buy-in from there.” Fisher explains. 

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can be the enemy of diversity management. As it’s unconscious, many of us are often unaware of the biases we carry. To combat this, it’s important to educate ourselves and our peers and understand our own biases. What stereotypes do you have of people from different groups and how well they may perform on the job? What communication styles do you prefer? Sometimes what we consider to be appropriate or desirable qualities in a candidate may reflect more about our personal preferences than about the skills needed to perform the job.

Implement strategies to safeguard against unfair and biased practices. For example, implementing a panel interview format and ensuring that the committee is diverse, unit affiliation, job classification, length of service, variety of life experiences, etc. to represent different perspectives and to eliminate bias from the selection process can help mitigate bias in your recruitment efforts. 

Resistance to change

Change, even for the better, can be a challenging element to navigate when managing people. When introducing diversity management, employees may feel like they are being forced into something they don’t want to do, managers might feel threatened by changes in their roles or responsibilities as a result of new policies such as hiring quotas, and your organization may even experience resistance from customers who prefer dealing with people who look like them or have shared cultural experiences with them. Dealing with resistance to diversity management will require a tailored approach to each team and customer base, but some key strategies include:

  • Develop clear expectations: Establishing clear expectations for performance evaluations and annual reviews as well as setting up processes for handling complaints about unfair treatment based on identity helps ensure fair and equitable treatment for all employees at every level. These policies should be communicated clearly throughout every level of your organization.
  • Take a zero-tolerance approach: Putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, is vital to upholding policies for diversity management in the workplace. Make sure employees know about your anti-discrimination policies as well as what constitutes harassment or discrimination. Develop and communicate clear instructions for how to report unfair practices within your organization to boost accountability and reduce instances of unfair practices.
  • Instill accountability: Developing a system of accountability will help ensure that managers and employees are held accountable when they fail to meet diversity management expectations; this includes providing training opportunities to build awareness around bias, and handling situations of discrimination.

Tokenism

A misguided desire for workforce diversity can lead HR leaders down the path of “tokenism,” where hiring and promotions are based primarily on identity rather than merit. This approach undermines the true spirit of diversity management and should be avoided. Some of the key strategies to mitigate tokenism are:

  • Focusing on systemic change: reframe goals away from quotas and targets, consider blind hiring practices, and create standardized promotion and development criteria that are consistently applied across the board. Remember, diversity management without equity and an inclusive culture is merely surface-level change
  • Invest in education and awareness: unconscious bias training, education around tokenism, and DEI training bring awareness and accountability to the diversity management experience.
  • Instill empowerment and accountability: Support the creation of employee resource groups (ERGs) where employees from underrepresented groups can find community, advocate for their needs, and contribute to company-wide DEI initiatives. Actively pair individuals from underrepresented groups with mentors and sponsors in senior leadership positions. And Track and analyze diversity statistics, including leadership demographics, pay equity, and representation across different departments. Hold leaders accountable for creating and maintaining an equitable and inclusive workplace.

Best Practices for Diversity Management

Establish a dedicated team or committee

Diversity management requires intentional action and dedicated programs to achieve true equity. Establishing a dedicated DEI team or committee helps ensure your diversity management goals get the support they need to flourish. Ensure the team itself is diverse in terms of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and select passionate and knowledgeable individuals with a strong commitment to DEI to be involved.

Define clear goals, responsibilities, and accountability measures for the team and equip them with necessary resources, budget, and authority to implement initiatives effectively.

Gather and analyze data

Collect data on employee demographics such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, etc., hiring, promotion rates, compensation, and employee engagement across diverse groups. Ensure this data collection and storage is secure, complying with privacy regulations, and analyze the data by various demographic groups to identify potential disparities requiring attention such as pay parity. 

Data is a powerful tool as it’s not subject to bias, and can provide a clear picture and metric to your diversity management efforts. Regularly share your key findings and data insights with your organization in a clear and actionable format.

Develop clear policies and procedures

Clearly define what constitutes discrimination and harassment, outlining reporting and investigation procedures within your organization. Develop policies ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for individuals with disabilities in communication, physical workspaces, and technology. Establish clear policies promoting equal opportunity in recruitment, hiring, promotions, and career development. When it comes to recruitment practices, focus on the job requirements in your interview and assess experience but also consider transferable skills and demonstrated competencies, such as analytical, organizational, communication, coordination. Prior experience does not necessarily mean effectiveness or success on the job. 

Make these policies clear and known throughout your organization (be sure to add them as a part of your employee handbook.) And lastly, regularly review and update your policies to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Additional reading:

Unconscious bias training

Unconscious bias training is a huge first step in addressing and reducing bias, a key factor in diversity management. Utilize interactive and engaging training methods that encourage active participation and reflection. Train participants on practical strategies to identify and mitigate unconscious bias in decision-making and daily interactions.

Depending on your organization, it may be useful to cater training to different target audiences. Consider offering customized training sessions for different levels of employees, from managers to individual contributors.

As always, regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your training programs and update modules as needed based on employee feedback and changing DEI initiatives and trends.

Learning and development opportunities

Learning and development is a great way to keep employees engaged, and can promote a more equitable workforce when designed under diversity management initiatives.

Offer learning and development programs focused on cultural competency, diversity awareness, and inclusive leadership practices. Bring in a more personal element through mentorship; establish programs connecting diverse employees with mentors and sponsors who can offer guidance, support, and career development opportunities to further build a culture of belonging and advancement.

Lastly, provide access to professional development opportunities that cater to the diverse needs and interests of employees from various backgrounds. Ensure learning materials and resources are inclusive and reflect the diverse experiences, abilities, and perspectives of employees.

Open communication and feedback 

Diversity management and a truly equitable workplace hinge upon the ability to receive, digest, and implement employee feedback. This can be achieved by creating the proper channels and methods to collect employee feedback in a way that makes individuals feel safe and open to share their genuine opinions. To do so:

  • Create multiple channels for employees to provide feedback, suggestions, and voice concerns related to diversity and inclusion. 
  • Foster a safe and respectful environment where employees feel comfortable raising concerns about discrimination or bias.
  • Actively listen to employee feedback and demonstrate a sincere commitment to addressing their concerns.
  • Communicate back to employees about actions taken in response to feedback and how they contribute to overall DEI efforts.

Leveraging HR Tools to Champion Equity and Belonging

diversity management

Undoubtedly, DEI policies are crucial for fostering a positive workplace culture and drive organizational success. HR Information Systems (HRIS) play an important role in supporting these policies by automating processes, encouraging transparency, and providing insights to help organizations effectively implement and reinforce their DEI policies. Omni can play a crucial role in tracking diversity management in the workplace by providing tools for tracking various identity metrics, helping shine a spotlight on gaps in your leadership and team make up. Real-time talent data helps identify areas for improvement, and implement policies that promote an equitable workforce. 

With modern HR automation tools like Omni, you gain access to data-driven insights that facilitate informed decision-making, as well as seamless integrations that effortlessly connect with your existing employee favored systems, making your entire engagement process more efficient and modern. 

Our performance management module provides you with instant reports to track diversity and inclusion goals, ensuring these initiatives are prioritized and progress is measurable. Furthermore, our employee self-service portals empower employees to access and understand DEI policies, fostering awareness and inclusivity. 

With a full suite of modules supporting every aspect of your business, Omni’s intuitive and customizable platform integrates with your team’s favorite systems for a seamless and timely adoption, ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion are adopted into your company’s culture.

If you’d like to learn more about how Omni’s all-in-one HR software can bring your DEI initiatives to the next level, book a demo with us today and start building a more diverse and equitable organization!

Get started today!

Get a 14-day free trial and see how Omni can work for your business.