Improving Diversity in The Workplace

Written by
Rebecca Smith

May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

Companies are finding out that incorporating diversity and inclusion into the workplace isn’t only smart but profitable too.

According to a study by McKinsey & Co. in 2017, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies who didn’t in the fourth quartile. Ethnic and cultural diversity showed 33% chance of outperformance.

Transformative workplace diversity is a two-sided coin that requires effort by both employer and employee. To best motivate and inspire their employees, employers are realizing the value added from systematic training that brings overall respect to the workplace. Employees are learning to work more effectively with colleagues from differing backgrounds. 

Action Steps for Employers

Employers can take several very critical steps to make sure their diversity and inclusion efforts are top-notch. 

Ask the Right Questions

First, take stock of the overall diversity of the company and ask the difficult but honest questions. Is there a sense of respect and general good-will or atmosphere of unresolved conflict? 

Evaluate Current Diversity Training

Is diversity training currently a part of the training process? Is there an official program for diversity and inclusion? Who manages the program?

Get Feedback

Anonymous employee surveys can be useful in getting feedback about diversity initiatives. Do employees feel they can be heard without retribution? How are differences of opinions resolved? 

Evaluate Infrastructure

Are policies and procedures in place for employees with disabilities? Infrastructure including upgraded ramps and handrails show a commitment to employees using wheelchairs and canes.

Hire for Diversity & Inclusion

Looking to the future, where does the company recruit new hires? Is testing required for new employees? Does it consider all learning types, age brackets, language barriers? Think about ways to hire that would promote diversity and inclusion.

True diversity & inclusion efforts go beyond a training program everyone is required to attend. It is a systematic effort to reevaluate every aspect of the business from hiring the right employees to the conditions of the buildings where people work and the equipment they use for their jobs.

When he was just starting out, Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group, Inc. (SEGI) would say he was an unlikely candidate to take on the competitive film industry of Hollywood and make his mark as one of the less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. When asked about transforming the workplace through diversity, he states,

"How businesses can improve diversity in the workplace is to first understand that diversity is not just about race. It's about all things that make us unique and different such as age, sex, religion, political affiliation to name a few. So, to be a diverse business, management must be made up of and hire people with these diverse backgrounds and characteristics so that the workplace is a true reflection of our society."


Be Proud of Who You Are

Employees have the responsibility to take chances, stand up for what you want to do, be a leader. Step out of your comfort zone. Get to know colleagues who are different than you. Listen and learn. Attend diversity trainings and give input. 

Know Your Rights

Knowing your rights and standing up for yourself in an informed and organized way goes a long way in being heard. Speak up and if you aren’t being heard, go to those who will listen. 

Take Chances and Make Changes

Sometimes making a difference means taking chances and making changes like branching out into your own business and hiring the people you want to work with rather than working for those who don’t appreciate you whether it’s your age, sex, religion, or ethnicity or any other variables that cause people to treat you different than anyone else. Be proud of who you are.

Set New Goals

Set new goals and take the steps to learn what it will take to achieve them. Break down the steps to your success and tackle them one at a time, one day at a time. Figure out what you need to know to take the next steps either in the company where you work or in starting a new one.

Learn Something New

COVID restrictions have led to more and more employees working from home, saving travel time. If you are able to take advantage of the extra time, use it to sign up for additional training, learn new skills, follow your passion. 

Find a Mentor

In all scenarios, find a mentor who can help guide you toward your goals. If you have achieved significant goals, take time to be a mentor to another who can use your guidance and wisdom.

Employers and employees working together can successfully create a diverse environment that is positive, productive and profitable.