- What does a diverse organization look like? What does it mean to say that your business has an inclusive work environment? The answer used to be that a diverse organization had employees from a variety of races, nationalities, or ethnicities. Or your organization was inclusive if it allowed people time off for their respective religious holidays, for example. The variety within our work force, and therefore the flexibility to accommodate the variety of needs within our work force continues to expand. These days, a third of women who give birth are single and under 30.
And single parent households have more than tripled since the 60's. The Supreme Court has granted marriage equality for LGBT Americans. And the push for hiring veterans and supporting the families of those who are deployed gets stronger each year. Over time, laws have been created that require employers to accommodate the needs of these and other groups. We see this through the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which requires employers to let new parents take time off to bond with their child or care for an injured veteran. Employee health benefits have expanded to include same-sex spouses.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, requires employers to accommodate people with disabilities. Employers who want the competitive advantage, however, know that they must go above and beyond the requirements of the law and create an inclusive environment where the needs of all employees can be met. Consider a call center that provides the office space for employees who want to meet for a monthly Bible study, the wall space and permission to hang flags in support of gay pride, and a designated area for Muslims to pray.
In this call center, each of these groups accepts their differences and celebrates them. They may not share in each other's beliefs, but they are happy to work in a place that supports their own way of life, and that also supports the ways of life for their coworkers. One small business of 30 employees had three employees report to HR that they were pregnant, all within a week of each other. Several other employees already had children, and given the average age of employees was 25, the organization wasn't going to escape the childcare needs of its employees.
The organization decided to open an on-site daycare from 3 to 6pm. so employee's kids had a place to go after school. They also offered paid maternity and paternitiy leave and the opportunity to work hours that enabled employees to avoid traffic so they could spend more time with their children. These are examples of organizations that go beyond managing diversity and instead celebrate inclusiveness. An organization that is truly inclusive focuses on diversity in every nook and cranny of its organization.
Marketing is focused on obtaining diversity in clients. HR policies regarding flexibility are in line with employee needs. Benefits programs match the needs of the work force. Performance Management rewards those who celebrate inclusiveness and pushes out those who do not celebrate diversity. The business seeks diversity in its pool of vendors and seeks out vendors who also celebrate inclusivity. Employees are equally welcoming to all customers. You get the idea.
So, take a moment to think about the nooks and crannies of your organization. Are diversity and inclusion oozing into every corner, or are there areas with room for improvement? Becoming an organization that celebrates diversity and inclusion gives your company a competitive edge. It creates a culture for happy and productive employees from every type of background.
She outlines a process for creating a strategic plan and benchmarks for success. To bring your plan to life, she provides tips for implementing a diversity policy, recruiting and hiring, and asking diversity-related questions during interviews. (Compliance issues are also discussed along the way.) Catherine also explains how to integrate diversity within the performance management processes, including measuring employees on their ability to work well with others and measuring managers on their ability to drive and implement diversity initiatives.
Last, she covers "people practices," such as improving communication through open-door policies and ensuring work-life balance accommodates employees' lives and family responsibilities. When you're faced with organizational challenges, such as resistance to change, prejudice, or fear, Catherine provides tools to address them head-on.