Employees are an essential small business investment. To get the most value from that investment, small business owners should examine their workforce diversity.
Proactively improving diversity can lead to concrete benefits. But forcing diversity has never worked well. So how can companies promote themselves while remaining inclusive?
The solution is simple: use diverse staffing practices.
Forcing diversity doesn’t work. Diverse staffing practices do.
Read on to learn what diverse staffing is and what it can do for your company. We’ve also included tips on how to improve your business’ diversity. They’re easy to put into place. And you can start working on them in the next five minutes.
What is diverse staffing?
In everyday life, “diversity” describes the different backgrounds in a group of people. A person’s background is made of their countless life experiences. It takes lots of work and time to increase cultural diversity.
Diversity comes from gender, socioeconomic factors, national origin, sexuality, age and much more.
In business, diversity often refers to who makes up the workforce. Small businesses can actively influence workplace diversity. This is where diverse staffing comes into play.
Small businesses can actively influence workplace diversity.
“Diverse staffing” refers to business practices that encourage productive workplace diversity.
For hiring, it involves attracting and hiring applicants from all walks of life. But once employees are onboard, SMBs need to follow through. A large part of diverse staffing involves keeping employees happy and ensuring they’re well-cared-for and comfortable.
This should all sound at least a little familiar to you.
All the concepts of regular staffing apply to diverse staffing, with the added step of empathy towards all backgrounds. It’s an act of selflessness that, in the long term, benefits employees, owners and whole companies.
How does diverse staffing help businesses?
SMB owners stand to gain a lot by improving their workforce diversity. It’s been clear for the last decade that having a diverse team brings in more profit. And there are a few reasons why.
“Companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits.” – Forbes
First, employees value diversity. If they think their employer does too, they’ll be happier. Happy employees don’t easily leave their jobs. Reducing turnover increases profits, since more work gets done and less time gets wasted on finding workers.
Diverse staffing also helps companies strategize and adapt. With a more diverse staff, SMBs can brainstorm unique marketing strategies. The same logic goes for developing product lines and becoming more involved with community organizations.
Finally, diversity attracts more customers. The more diverse a team is, the more likely customers will see someone relatable behind the counter. This means better customer relationship management, and consequently, better sales.
How can I improve my business’ diversity?
Improving diversity requires only a little bit of effort. Here are four tips to help you get started.
Define diversity staffing for your business
Take a moment to define what diverse staffing looks like at your company. It’s different for every small business.
Get more creative than just looking at demographics. How do you plan to manage a diverse workforce? What steps can you take to protect every single person on your staff?
If you’re having trouble getting started, try putting yourself in someone’s shoes who has a different background than yourself. Ask what challenges that person encounters every day, and what you can do to make those challenges more manageable.
Talk about diversity using positive messages
Consider how you share the company’s diversity initiatives with your employees. If you can boil the message down to “Meet these goals, or you’ll be fired!” it might be time to reevaluate.
While negative messages lay down the law, the truth is that they don’t diversify workforces very well. In fact, they make employees afraid to bring up the subject at all.
Positive reinforcement tends to do far more good.
Diverse staffing benefits employees, owners and whole companies.
So instead of threatening negative consequences, approach the subject like you’re setting a sales goal. “Let’s see if we can reach at least two diversity staffing goals this quarter!” is much more encouraging than threatening termination.
Diversity comes more naturally with a gentle approach and positivity.
Mentor your employees
Employees who belong to disenfranchised groups can feel alone in their careers. Fortunately, SMB leaders are uniquely equipped to fight that loneliness. They often work alongside their employees, and consequently have more experience doing the same work.
An excellent way to share this knowledge involves owners or managers mentoring employees.
Formal mentorships are great for resume building or learning niche trades. Informal mentorships can help improve employee-manager relationships. Both are great options and can be customized to suit any unique business need.
Mentoring employees can make them feel more at home. It will also make your employees better. What’s not to like?
Allow employees to collaborate
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the more your employees work together, the more they’ll be willing to talk about their differences.
Putting employees on the same task will give them a chance to share what makes them similar, as well as different. They’ll carry that attitude out into the world.
Diversity brings challenges and does take work, but it’s well worth it.
Bringing it all together
Let’s review what we learned about diverse staffing.
- Businesses that practice diverse staffing employ people from all walks of life. Those people should feel comfortable and welcomed in the workplace.
- Diverse businesses stand to increase their profits. They avoid turnover, improve products and advertising, and look more attractive to customers.
- Once you define diverse staffing, discuss it with your employees. Be positive. Let them work together and alongside you.
Practicing these tips can turn you and your business into diversity advocates. Get started on improving your company’s work environment today!
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