Diverse Board and Staff
When an organization is composed of a diverse staff and has a diverse collection of board members, it sets an example for other organizations with which it does business, and communicates the message, “We believe in inclusion, and we value individuality.”
Putting into action its organizational values becomes a very effective way of attracting diverse staff and board members on a continual basis – thereby ensuring that the organization always has access to a supply of fresh, innovative ideas that appropriately meet the needs of its clients. Finally, creating and publishing an inclusivity statement, and leveraging that statement during the recruitment process, is an excellent way to attract the caliber of talented people who believe in the same types of values the organization does.
It is essential to note that putting into place policies, procedures, and statements that encourage diversity and inclusiveness are simply a step toward achieving equality. It takes more than words and actions to achieve equality. The creation of a sustainable culture that embraces these concepts and lives by them is the most challenging aspect of advancing equality.
Benefits of A Diverse Staff and Board
Increased Creativity – Creativity increases when people with different ways of solving difficult problems work together toward a common solution. The more ideas generated, the more likely an organization is to develop solutions that will appeal to a larger, more varied client base.
Improved Problem-Solving – A wide range of solutions can result when people with different ideas come together and collaborate. Diverse ways of approaching problems can cultivate more innovative solutions and a variety of action plans.
Increased Productivity – Productivity increases exponentially when people of all backgrounds work together toward a shared goal. A wide array of perspectives, abilities, and experience lends itself to expanded outcomes and improved organizational performance.
Reduced Interpersonal Conflict / Top Quality Teamwork – When workplace diversity is leveraged, people from various backgrounds become enabled to communicate more effectively – and respectfully – with a broad spectrum of clients. Inclusive attitudes can greatly reduce interpersonal conflict and improve teamwork as we accept, appreciate, and adapt to differences in culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, work space preferences, behavioral styles, experiences, and beliefs.
Strategies for Creating A Diverse Staff and Board
Ensuring a diverse staff and board composition has as much to do with the way in which an organization internally operates and communicates as it does with the way it attracts, recruits, and hires people. The strategies below outline a few things to consider when working to create and retain a diverse staff and board over the long-term. Once a diverse staff and board are created, there are myriad ways of celebrating and recognizing diversity on an ongoing basis. Please refer to the Diversity Toolkit created by the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum for ideas.
Hiring and Recruitment
When embarking on a hiring and recruitment process for staff and board members:
- Actively seek applications from a wide range of candidates and recruit from diverse groups, taking proactive steps to address underrepresented or minority groups.
- Advertise in publications that specifically target minority populations, for example, women, gay men and lesbians, people of color, and people with disabilities.
- Contact local Chamber of Commerce groups of which your organization is a member, and request that your employment announcements be communicated to members through chamber newsletters and websites. In particular, reach out to Chambers whose members represent specific populations (Women’s Chamber, Hispanic Chamber, etc.).
- Offer applicants a copy of your organization’s nondiscrimination policy.
- Assess the candidate’s application based upon his or her experience, knowledge, and competencies rather than personal characteristics and background.
To help your organization’s staff and board understand ways they can support diversity in the workplace:
- Invest in a training program for staff and board members that incorporates concepts of diversity and inclusion.
- Offer leadership program training for staff and board members.
- Offer other trainings that address diversity topics you may not have considered, such as learning styles, behavioral styles, work styles, and generational issues.
Evaluate whether members of your staff and board represent:
- More than three ethnic populations.
- Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community.
- A wide variety of religious/faith-based practices.
- A wide range of age groups and experience levels.
- People with physical disabilities.
- People with varied socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Evaluate whether your management group:
- Demonstrates patience with people who have trouble speaking and understanding English.
- Values face-to-face opportunities that enable them to interpret body language.
- Demonstrates sensitivity to the wide range of potential family arrangements, such as domestic partner relationships and single parent families.
- Helps employees learn to express themselves more effectively.
- Refrains from talking negatively about people when they aren’t present.
- Makes an effort to provide bilingual services in order to improve customer service or staff relations.
Take steps to ensure that your organization:
- Actively reaches out to a multicultural consumer base.
- Forges relationships and partnerships with minority owned businesses.
- Advancing Equality Toolkit 2009 – Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado Page 9
- Offers innovative promotional programs that encourage a wide variety of populations to connect with the company.
- Practices diversity and inclusion within all levels of the organization in order to set a company-wide example.
- Strives to expand the diversity of the supplier/vendor base.
- Encourages partners, vendors, and clients to have a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of sexual orientation.
Constantly reflect on the ways in which the organization’s management and leadership demonstrate:
- An understanding of the principles of equality, diversity, fairness, and justice.
- Ongoing personal development in diversity awareness.
- Collaboration with mentors and consultants who have proven knowledge and experience in the areas of inclusiveness and diversity appreciation.
- A commitment to take the necessary steps to eradicate any structural discriminatory practices with relation to employee opportunities and benefits.
- Visible support for all employees both in the workplace and in the community.