In the modern workplace, diversity is increasingly important, and many of the top companies are looking for ways to diversify their workforce. In 2013 15 percent of organizations reported having staff dedicated exclusively to diversity, and that number is growing. Further, CEOs are now taking a more active role in cultivating effective diversity committees, even serving on them.
CEO involvement in diversity committees is beneficial to the company as a whole. Organizations that do not have CEO involvement tend to have less effective diversity efforts. A leader who is dedicated to diversity will be more personally invested in making diversity initiatives successful while making staff and other committee members feel more supported.
So, how do you create a successful workplace diversity committee? Keep reading to find out the steps for cultivating a productive and successful diversity committee in the workplace.
Get Help from Others
For management, C-suite executives, or anyone tasked with creating a workplace diversity committee, it is important to have a teamwork-oriented mindset. Developing a diversity strategy alone is not only overwhelming, but it will be far more successful if several individuals are working on it.
Start by holding discovery meetings to get a feel of who would be a good fit for the committee, what their strengths are, and how willing they are to make the process effective. Once the team framework is set up, discuss an overall diversity strategy and assign different parts of the strategy to team members. These team members can then dive deeper into what it will take to make these action items happen and how the action steps specifically relate to diversity.
Throughout the committee formation and strategizing process, seek feedback from staff members who are not part of the committee. The point of doing this is to make sure all perspectives are considered when creating diversity strategies. Send out surveys, host town hall-style meetings to gather feedback, and take these responses back to the committee for discussions. Don’t be afraid to get feedback from employees who may be resistant to diversity efforts; you want to understand what their reservations are and how to overcome them.
Identify Characteristics of Committee Members
Creating your diversity committee should be an exercise in diversity itself—committee members should represent all levels of your organization and directly reflect the diversity in your company. Invite staff from all levels to participate in diversity initiatives. If you find that the willingness to participate is low, consider requiring committee participation of at least one person per department. You may also find that adding non-monetary incentives such as providing lunch during committee meetings may improve participation.
At the outset, create a committee meeting schedule and do your best to adhere to it. Staying organized and on-task helps keep committee members engaged and will demonstrate that the company takes diversity seriously.
Clarify the Vision and Set Goals
Once your diversity committee is formed, it’s time to define the vision and set some goals based on this vision. Creating a vision and mission statement provides clarity about the mission and what is required to carry it out. Always use the overall company mission statement as a guide when creating a diversity committee mission statement; see how diversity initiatives can augment the overall mission.
• The statement should be concise
• Avoid hard to read jargon
• Always look forward
• Make sure the impact is clear (i.e., who the mission benefits)
• Set the tone based on organizational goals
• Ensure the message resonates with employees of all levels
Review and Revise Policies
The next major component of a successful diversity committee is the regular review of organizational policies and procedures that affect diversity. Take a look at your company’s current policies and see how hiring practices, company culture, and the inner workings of each department either contribute to or detract from workplace diversity.
On the surface, it may seem as though these company policies have no connection to diversity, but this is not the case. There are plenty of ways to improve upon the already-existing policies at your company. The following are a few examples of how to improve diversity and inclusion with simple modifications:
• When holding company events, make sure that they are presented in such a way that is engaging for all team members; avoid a clique-like company event structure
• Create natural ways for employees to interact across departments, such as lunchtime fitness classes open to all departments.
• Review benefits packages to ensure that they are inclusive. Consider adding parental leave for adoptive parents and allow benefits participation of employees who identify as LGBTQ, for example.
A Plan for Success
The steps and tips outlined here can certainly be helpful, but creating an impactful diversity committee takes time, patience, and consistency. For additional guidance on creating a diversity committee for your organization, consider getting outside help from a consultant. Choosing a consultant with a focus on diversity will help give you an unbiased view of your organization, provide ideas for improvement, and guide you on committee member selection.