Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices for Small Businesses
By Tina Estes, Account Executive, BizDiversity
One of the best things any small business can do is to create their statement of Best Practices and how they plan to incorporate the promotion and practice of Diversity and Inclusion.
Many years ago, Diversity and Inclusion meant that you were, perhaps, making the commitment to hire individuals from different places in the world and include them without reservation in your workplace’s strategic plan for growth. Today Diversity and Inclusion means so much more!
When you look at both words individually:
- Diversity: Utilizing any means to differentiate groups and people from one another and respecting and appreciating these differences whether they are singular or any combination of ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, gender, age, national origin, abilities or disabilities, religion, experiences, life styles, language, or cultures.
- Inclusion: The ability for one to be, and to feel like they are being valued, supported, and respected. Focusing on the needs of each person and having the right conditions in place for each person to function at their full potential.
In other words, Diversity is the mix of people within an organization and inclusion is how well everyone functions together.
Why is diversity important? We live in such a global world where people move into and out of the United States for a variety of reasons yet we all have the same goals in mind. To work for a good company at a decent wage, provide for our families, to have a workplace and job we enjoy, and to have a balance of work and personal life. We can’t achieve these goals if the company we work for singles out individuals for being different or if there is friction from teammates due to one’s differences.
In addition to internal practices, there are a whole host of external benefits as well. The markets that an organization may serve is a mix of races, ages, lifestyles, genders, etc. so it makes sense that the workforce of that organization also be a mix. The consumer base is changing and the talent base is changing as well.
Acknowledging differences and similarities amongst an organization’s talented work force increases creativity and innovation, recruitment and retention of top talent becomes easier, it’s better for the organization because they can better leverage their resources and outperform their competitors, and it affects how we lead our teams.
The impact both internally and externally is about the same. The organization can be viewed as a thought and innovation leader in how they have cultivated the culture and the way they employ and work with people. This also is translated to how receptive the consumers are to different ideas.
This is not to say that organizations should focus solely on cultivating the culture at the expense of the products they produce. This is saying that organizations need to focus on the right mix of people and how well they function together to support the organization.
When an organization understands these concepts, on a global scale, it is important to create a statement declaring the organization’s beliefs and how the organization supports differences. An example of such a statement can be found at the Eastside Business Association’s website located at http://theeba.org/about/eba-diversity-inclusion-best-practices/
Tina M. Estes, Owner
Tina Time Office Solutions