3 Ways To Make Workplace Diversity A Priority

You can’t ignore diversity (or a lack thereof) in your team and company. Here are a few ways you can get on track for a more inclusive environment.

Photo: Parker Davis, CEO of Answer 1; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Parker Davis, CEO of Answer 1; Source: Courtesy Photo

What’s the number one way you can attract high-quality team members to work for your small business? You might be surprised to learn it’s not a flashy office or extended benefits; it’s your cultivation of a diverse workplace.

Millennials are currently the largest demographic in the workforce and we’ve reported before that a stunning 86% of Millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own.

What’s more, 57% of employees want their company to do more to increase diversity, according to Glassdoor.

You can’t ignore diversity (or a lack thereof) in your team and company. Here are a few ways you can get on track for a more inclusive environment.


1. Start from the top down

Getting everyone on the same page about diversity is crucial to overall success, and it largely falls to leadership. If leaders aren’t focused on making sure people from diverse backgrounds are represented at every level of management in the company, it’s just not going to be a priority.

Commitment to diversity needs to be established in your company culture, from the very beginning. Define exactly what diversity will look like in your company. Write out procedures for future incidents, and clearly establish an HR presence that takes complaints seriously.

Moreover, McKinsey & Company reports companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

Don’t ignore these benefits. If leaders don’t take diversity seriously, how can they expect employees to thrive?


2. Back up your ideals with action

Alright, the intention is there. Now you need to back up your ideals with action. A great way to get started is to have regular meetings where you can hear from every member of your team. More meetings might sound like a burden, but they’re invaluable to your business.

At Answer 1 we believe, “Once employees feel empowered to contribute openly, they can volunteer suggestions and innovations that can drive your company to new levels of productivity and success. Tools that can help you achieve a more productive communication style include listening without judgment, asking questions for which you don’t have answers, and probing employees for more information when they express their ideas.”

If your team trusts you to act when problems arise, they will feel more supported and become more productive. These regular check-ins will also allow you to gain a good grasp on problems before they escalate. Any hint of workplace conflict can be anticipated and dealt with, according to the procedures you already set.

Your team also needs regularly diversity and anti-harassment training. Don’t make this a chore; open up the floor for deeper diversity conversations (while, of course, remaining professional!) and make sure your team understands that discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and disability is not allowed.

3. Recruit thoughtfully

Building a diverse team requires thoughtful preparation. Obviously, look for candidates that will be the best fit, but make sure you’re looking at all types of people. Registering your organization with local job search agencies is a great step to support your local community. Many programs work with job hunters who are, and represent, minorities. Also, considering registered on sites like DiversityJobs and IHireDiversity.

The interview process is nerve-wracking for everyone, so make it as smooth as possible. Ask leadership team members from different backgrounds to participate in different stages of interviews, so your candidates can get a good idea of the team diversity dynamics. This will also assure candidates that your workplace is diverse.

Also, make a point to share your internal processes in the interview process. Brush up on your knowledge of current harassment laws, and ensure your entire team knows their rights within the workplace.


Create a more diverse workplace

Diversity in your team will improve every aspect of your business. You’ll attract high-quality candidates, promote internal trust, help your local community, and enjoy knowing that you are actively working to make the world a better place.


Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology-enabled answering services industry. Since 2015, Parker has been responsible for Answer 1’s strategic vision, senior level management, and equity creation. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. He has an M.B.A from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame. Connect with @answer1 on Twitter.


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