To many business leaders, the words "workplace diversity" and "inclusion" sound like personal attacks on their familiar way of doing things. Companies have little incentive to change a business model that gets results. Not to mention, corporate executives resist any cultural reform they can't clearly define in terms of profit and loss. Despite the opportunity for greater success, here are common reasons why employers don't prioritize workplace diversity.
1. We're Considering Our Options
Employers resort to vague excuses when they don't have a goal or plan. They hear about the benefits of workplace diversity and start off with good intentions of researching the issue further. The problem is many companies don't have a clear vision of what they hope to accomplish, so they end up using shallow tactics to give the appearance of doing something.
2. We Can't Find Qualified Candidates
Getting minority candidates to apply is a challenge for businesses with a homogenous workforce and company culture. On the other hand, employers can't expect to attract a wider range of applicants if they stick to the same flawed recruitment strategies. Companies that genuinely care about workplace diversity develop an action plan to reach diverse talent, such as targeting women's business networks or recruiting at historically black colleges.
3. We Have Plenty of Referrals in Our Pipeline
While personal networks are a valuable source of referrals, hiring from within narrow social circles can lead to the same limitations as traditional recruiting. Whether they realize it or not, many professionals spend most of their time surrounded by people of similar age, race, educational background and socioeconomic status. To combat this issue, companies can create opportunities for employees to expand their networks. Connecting employees with mentors outside the company, sponsoring community involvement programs and covering membership costs for professional associations are just a few ways to help workers branch out.
4. We Put Quality First
Too often, employers use the "quality" argument to imply that minority candidates don't stand a chance without special consideration. In reality, the prevalence of bias in recruiting and management causes many employers to hire and promote people who are similar to them. Without a standard method of evaluation, leaders and HR professionals end up making subjective judgments that confirm their personal biases and hold diverse candidates to impossible standards.
5. There's Too Many Variables Involved
Many employers believe their company culture is free of diversity problems until they start digging for information. Once they start talking to other business leaders and listening to dissenting voices in the company, they realize discrimination and bias are deeply ingrained in every aspect of training, operations, recruitment and leadership development. Complacent leaders want a simple fix, and they decide that doing nothing is better than upsetting the company's complex ecosystem.
Employers that approach workplace diversity like a numbers game usually don't get any substantial gains from their efforts. Workplace diversity is about building dynamic teams that use wide-ranging knowledge and experience to create the best business solutions. Instead of looking for shortcuts, companies that want to outperform their competition must be willing to invest time and resources into developing measurable diversity goals.
Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net