I came across an interesting article: Pollster says many Americans not serious about diversifying classrooms, workplace that stirred a few thoughts as it relates to diversity and inclusion practices and talent acquisition.
We talk a lot about diversity and inclusion in our society. People say that diversity and inclusion should be a priority; apparently, few people want to do the hard work. What are the challenges people face that create inaction? It is important to be aware of the challenges you may be facing that can cause inaction in trying to diversify your workplace. Let’s explore several barriers and their solutions.
Barriers to Effective Workplace Diversity
- Your diversity and inclusion training or trainer sucks. Make sure that you’re getting quality diversity and inclusion training. Training is never one size fits all. Based on the level of intercultural competence in your workplace, the information that is shared will need to be adjusted so that the team can clearly articulate the goals and purpose of the training.
- Lack of understanding. If your people don’t understand diversity and inclusion and the basic terms, your training is going to be ineffective. I wrote an entire article to clarify a handful of diversity & inclusion terms. At the end of my training sessions, I want people to understand what we mean when we talk about diversity and inclusion. I promise you that Twitter is not your best place of research for those definitions. Find a qualified diversity and trainer and ask questions. This four question list will get you started.
- Fear. Fear keeps us from taking risks, asking questions, and having tough conversations in educational settings and the workplace. None of us wants to be called racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other kind of “ist,” but avoidance is not the answer. Surface level training is not the answer. If you are in a traditional workspace, classroom, or a nonprofit organization, diversity and inclusion are important even if it gets uncomfortable. A successful program will help you work through any fears and more effectively reach your goals.
Recognizing these challenges and confronting them with a successful diversity and inclusion training program can help a business recruit diverse talent.
Let’s discuss effective workplace and classroom diversity and inclusion practices as it relates to talent acquisition
A recent Pew Research Center study reports: “Americans See Advantages and Challenges in Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity” 75% of the people surveyed say that racial and ethnic diversity is important in the workplace, but 74% of the same group also said that when it comes to hiring and promotions, that qualifications trump good diversity and inclusion practices. If I were to translate that into plain English, respondents were proudly saying, “We don’t want unqualified Racial/Ethnic folks working for us.”
As a person of color, I would say that minority or underrepresented groups don’t want you to hire unqualified minorities. That helps no one and perpetuates unhealthy and inaccurate stereotypes. The question isn’t an either or. You should always consider qualifications as long as those qualifications don’t systemically discriminate against various demographics, racial or otherwise.
Regarding talent acquisition as it relates to diversity and inclusion, we want the best-qualified people possible to be a part of our teams, to be a part of our production process, and to be a part of our system of people resources. One of the most important processes that you, as a business owner or leader of an organization, needs to be successful at is talent acquisition. Anyone who says that they can’t achieve diversity and inclusion goals and get qualified people at the same time is demonstrating a lack of creativity, a lack of strategic visioning, and knowledge.
So how do you get good people while paying attention to diversity and inclusion? Pay attention to the processes that you are using to attract and keep the people that you want. People, process, and product are the triad of any successful organization. If the triad is working well in your system, you will perform well. There are three parts to the HR talent cycle: talent acquisition, talent retention, and talent development. Diversity and inclusion should be considered at each step of the cycle.
It is best to have the biggest pool possible. If you fail to think about diversity, you limit the size of your pool. Intentional diversity and inclusion strategies expand a small pond of potential talent into an ocean of potential talent. Fishing in the ocean gives you many more options than fishing in a small pond. With unemployment levels falling, acquiring great talent is going to get more difficult and more expensive. Good diversity and inclusion practices help you find talent in regions and locations that others in your industry may overlook. Organizations and institutions who want talented and diverse new hires should consider recruiting talent outside of the usual places. It may mean expanding where you advertise for talent. Employers need to think about the markets they target, schools, cities, regions, etc. To acquire better talent, especially diverse talent, you may have to look beyond the normal spaces and places and search the uncharted waters. Who knows what talent you may find?
It costs money to train and acquire new talent. You want a good return on your investment. Strong diversity initiatives combined with strong inclusion practices will help foster an environment where minority groups will want to stay with your company, and they will tell their friends that this is a great place to work. Happy employees are more productive and stay with a company longer, providing additional benefits to the organization.
Sometimes if you want great talent, you must develop it. Organizations and institutions should consider opening up internships and training programs for underrepresented groups. Mentorship programs and educational partnerships are also ways to work at talent development. The internal hiring and promotion process and the educational benefits offered to staff are the first places organizations may want to look if they are serious about workplace diversity. If is also important to understand which development practices are most effective in connecting with the target group.
It is possible to work at diversity and inclusion without sacrificing quality talent. Realize that it takes a commitment, and it may take several years to achieve your goals. Diversity and inclusion as it relates to talent acquisition need to be part of your long-term HR strategy.
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