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Achieving diversity in the workplace

Posted on April 24th, 2015 Read time: 3 minutes

Have you ever heard the saying, "Two minds are better than one?" Diversity adds a new advantage to this logic. What's the purpose of two minds if they think exactly alike?

Creating a workplace with varied ways of thinking promotes innovative ideas, allows you to connect with your customer base and strengthens the company identity. These benefits are vital to success in today's business world.

Additionally, the quality of service rises as diversity increases. With a combination of cultures, languages, ages and backgrounds, a company can reach a more expansive customer base. Plus, the varied individual talents and personal experiences give companies a wide variety of resources to generate ideas and execute strategies. Life is unpredictable, and different people thrive during different time periods. For example, millennials are excelling with the current face-paced technological advancements. In 20 years, the next generation may be more equipped to handle the latest digital devices.

Differences in gender, race, age, education and culture are just some of the many ways diversity can be achieved. Much of the responsibility of retaining and recruiting falls into the hands of HR services, and fostering a diverse community is vital to company success. Here are some elements to keep in mind when promoting diversity in your workplace.

Current face of the workplace
Diversity in race and ethnicity is increasing in the workplace. However, many people of the same ethnic group cluster into similar jobs. In fact, Caucasian workers have a high concentration, meaning they make up 25 percent or more than the group's average workforce share, in only 35 jobs, according to a CareerBuilder report. That's compared to the expansive 210 jobs in which Asian Americans are concentrated. Fortunately, a wider variety of ethnic groups is spreading to higher-paying occupations. African Americans, for example, have gained concentration in 44 percent of the 50 highest-paying jobs.

Women are making headway in the workforce, holding 49 percent of jobs. However, just like with Caucasian workers, women are entering a narrow field of occupations, while men are expanding to a wider variety. Additionally, women make an average hourly wage of  $20.19, and men make an average hourly wage of $25.51. That's not to suggest men are getting paid more than women for the same job; rather, more men are in higher-paying occupations.

As for age, since 2001, only 22 to 25 year olds and those 55 and older have increasingly joined the workforce. For teenagers and the 35- to 54-year-old age group, employment rates went down.

Key strategies for optimizing diversity
The benefits of diversity are clear, so strategies to achieve it in the workplace must be created. To attain the most successful diversity, the company needs to have a large pool of applicants. The Wall Street Journal suggests asking existing employees for referrals. Employees are a convenient tool for connecting companies with willing and qualified workers. HR services can even provide incentives for employees who refer a candidate that gets hired.

A vital component of achieving diversity is to implement an equal opportunity employment policy that complies with the the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This way, the company can ensure it is following standard guidelines. Additionally, being an equal opportunity employer will encourage a wider range of potential employees to apply for the job.

To make sure diversity is an asset rather than a source of confusion or skepticism, offer diversity training to current employees. This way, everyone in the organization understands that a diverse workforce is beneficial and that the hiring process depends solely on who is the most qualified candidate.

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