Promoting Diversity in the Workplace

Staffing your team with a wide range of viewpoints and talents equips your company with a broader variety of insights and abilities— resources that can then help your business navigate challenges and discover new paths to success. It’s a concept often boiled down to one buzzword: diversity.

Diverse hands united in team building activity on white background.

But, authentic diversity is much more powerful than your average boardroom lingo. In fact, companies with more diverse executive boards are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform industry medians, and inclusive teams make better business decisions 87 percent of the time.

So, how can you make sure diversity is more than just a catchphrase in your office?

3 To-Dos for Authentic Workplace Diversity

Nix the ‘culture fit’ concept

At first glance, it might seem like a good sign that everyone on your team enjoys sailing or that your entire senior leadership team hits the links each weekend. But take another look, and you might realize you’ve confused homogeny for harmony.

When challenges pop up, do you want every hand raised to offer the same solutions, or would you prefer a variable menu of unique opinions and options. This is one potential downfall of the ubiquitous “culture fit” hiring concept – ending up with a bunch of carbon copy colleagues.

Additionally, if you ask an executive about diversity, he or she will likely talk about the importance of representing different religions, genders, races and abilities. But what about social class? Overlooking this category is a big misstep, especially when you consider that  97 percent of individuals from working-class backgrounds report that their social class background affected their work experience.

In one study of “culture fit” bias, employers overwhelmingly favored higher-class men to lower-class men, despite identical work and education credentials. Why? Elite-class candidate resumes listed “traditionally upper-class hobbies and sports,” like sailing, polo, and classical music. Meanwhile, the lower-class candidates gave themselves away with less-posh interests, like soccer and country music.

Offer more than training

First off, don’t make diversity training mandatory. This might seem counterintuitive. However, employees who are forced to attend diversity training often respond with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward. The good news is that people respond very positively to voluntary training.

While your first instinct might be to launch your new diversity program with a single, must-attend seminar for all employees, studies show you’ll get better results by investing in ongoing, voluntary training that opens up dialog about real issues.

Walk the talk

Most U.S. companies claim they’re committed to diversity. Yet only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and only six of those companies have three or more women in the c-suite.

Before you pour time, energy and money into a diversity program, make sure it’s something you—and your entire leadership team—are truly invested in and prepared to follow through on. If not, you run the risk of appearing disingenuous to current and potential employees, as well as would-be clients.

As Michael Gaston, CEO and founder of, recently told Forbes, “[Diversity training and consultation] may be important and transformative tools, but if we don’t structure diversity into the very foundations of our business, nothing else we do really matters…Leaders need to understand this innately — and operationalize inclusion as both an ethic and a strategy.”

workplace characteristics diversity

Launch a better training program ASAP

Are you ready to rev up diversity in your workplace with help from innovative, engaging training? If so, visit KnowledgeCity to learn more about our powerful, intuitive hassle-free online learning management system and cutting-edge online learning and development courses that will keep you on the forefront of your industry.

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