In order to make the widest impact possible, your organization needs to appeal to a wide audience. This audience should include people from all backgrounds, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income level, and so on. Otherwise, it may appear that your organization is being exclusive with one particular group and perhaps even discriminatory toward others. In order to create the wide appeal that you need, you must have a diverse staff. Unfortunately, many organizations have difficulty accomplishing this.
The main obstacle to staff diversity comes from the simple fact that organizations are unable to attract and retain talent from diverse backgrounds. Even if an organization states that it values diversity, various factors contribute toward its inability to attract the needed variety of applicants. Some of these factors are:
- The composition of the staff belongs predominantly to one race, gender, faith, etc., with only token individuals from other backgrounds (or none at all).
- Subtle bias during the interviewing process.
- Employee dissatisfaction due to subtle bias or lack of professional development opportunities.
Simply put, organizations often have a hard time achieving staff diversity merely because that diversity is not already firmly in place. In addition, the overall efforts and attitude of leaders within the organization do not put much emphasis on the subject.
How to Fix the Problem
In order to overcome these obstacles, your organization needs to make consistent concerted efforts. You can’t get by with casual statements about how you value diversity. It needs to be at the forefront in order to achieve results. Following are a few steps to follow that will make your efforts most effective:
- Talk about it: More than passively discussing it on occasion, take the time to deliberately talk about it. Make it the topic of a board meeting. Discuss the need for diversity as well as how you might go about achieving it.
- Work with the board: The board of directors can help immensely by providing connections they have with the community. Work with them to deliberately target communities where you will find individuals from diverse backgrounds, and make recruitment and engagement plans around those communities.
- Connect: Once you have target communities in place, implement your plans. Reach out through recruitment, philanthropic programs, or other methods of engagement.
- Mentoring: As people come into your organization, give them opportunities for professional development. Get them into your leadership pipeline so they can rise through the ranks. This will build diversity throughout all levels of your organization.
As you follow these steps, it is important to be deliberate about your efforts. Consistently and consciously reach out to all communities, and you will find that your staff will fill out with more diverse talent.
Reprinted with the permission of Y Scouts.