Hailima I. Yates, CEO, Luv Mrk

Importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Workplaces.

Diverse workplaces include employees from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical difference including but not limited to genders, ages, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, languages, ideologies, sexual orientation, physical and cognitive abilities, and socioeconomic statuses. The benefits to having a diverse work environment is that individuals with different values, experiences, skills, perspectives and insights can lead to greater productivity, profitability, and team morale.

Employing people from a variety of backgrounds allows you to draw on a wide range of innovative ideas, broader approaches to sound decisions, and a better connection between the local to global communities you serve, which boosts your brand’s reputation.

Below are some suggestions for recruiting methods as well as ensuring that when you have a diverse workspace it actually is inclusive and equitable, so employees feel valued and want to stay.

Recruiting Methods:

  • Post job announcement where ideal candidates are looking. It’s unethical and discriminatory to hire or not hire someone because of their gender, race, age, etc. but you can purposely post where you can reach a diverse candidate pool.
  • Have gender-neutral job descriptions. Instead of saying “He will lead the marketing team,” use you or they/them. The language you use will have potential employees opt out of applying or envision themselves in the role.
  • Notice limitations. If a job description calls for experience in a specific role or a specific degree, it will limit who applies, and you may miss out on people who can provide an extraordinary performance.
  • Does the position really require a college degree? Some may not have the degree you’re looking for or they didn’t have an opportunity to go to college, but they have experience or the intelligence to perform the job.
  • Hire for potential, assess that through behavioral-based interview questions or resultsbased hiring practices, see examples below:

▪ Describe how you achieved a goal you set.

▪ Explain a time you had to be creative to solve a problem.

▪ How do you work under pressure?

▪ How do you interact with coworkers or clients whose personalities are different from yours?

▪ Share an incident with a coworker or client you wish you’d handled differently.

▪ Describe your actions that demonstrate good leadership?

  • Are you letting a prior firing or criminal record be a deterrent from hiring an applicant? Some people may have been wrongfully terminated and some crimes committed may be a non-violent offense or there’s also the possibility of being wrongfully accused and convicted.
  • Are you passing on people with gaps in their resume or job jumping? There could be valid reasons such as raising a child or caring for a family member in need.
  • When reviewing resumes, notice if applicants with ethnic names are having skills overlooked.
  • Are you rejecting candidates due to culture fit/gut feeling? To ensure there are no biases articulate specific reasons for not hiring a candidate.
  • Do you consider their appearance as unprofessional?
  • Would you not consider hiring someone because they have tattoos, even if they are non-offensive?
  • Do you not feel comfortable hiring African American or Black employees who wear their natural hair- afro, braids, locs, etc., because you deem it as “unruly, unprofessional, unkempt”?
  • Have structured interviews – Ask candidates the same set of questions.
  • Company Image – If you have a website and promotional material with diverse representation that may help job seekers envision themselves with your company. In addition to implementing practices to create a diverse work environment, you want to make certain you don’t participate in performative inclusion. It’s imperative to design for a genuinely fair and welcoming environment. An organization can be diverse, but to truly be inclusive means valuing all facets of identities and voices.

Creating an Equitable and Inclusive Work Environment

  • Fair pay scale. o All genders, all races/ethnicities, all ages, etc. make the same pay for equal time at work and responsibilities.
  • Equal access to opportunities.

o All genders, all races/ethnicities, all ages, etc. have an equivalent chance for promotion.

  • You don’t impose your cultural beliefs on employees and respect other perspectives, lifestyles, values, and cultures.
  • Go beyond acknowledging there may be people who practice their religion or spirituality during the day and create a designated space for them to pray, meditate, or observe. This will encourage them to be themselves in the workplace.
  • Acknowledge commemorative months like Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Black

History Month, Gay Pride Month, Women’s History Month, etc.

  • Allow employees time off to honor their religious holidays.
  • Magazines/reading materials/art in office and lobby – relevant to industry and/or diverse representation.
  • Visuals on the company website and careers page showing the diversity.
  • Value all voices in meetings or when approached with new strategies to reach goals, etc.
  • Wheelchair accessible facility.
  • Gender neutral restrooms.
  • Have consequences for harassment and/or discrimination.

The above methods are just a few suggestions for building a diverse culture in your organization which allows you to be more than competitive and profitable. Being immersed in in an environment with varying backgrounds gives everyone a chance to be exposed to varying perspectives, learn about each other’s cultures, and discover new approaches to conduct business. This enriching experience can help all involved be more open to treating people with backgrounds different from theirs with respect and kindness in their professional and personal life.