Diana Kelly Levey

Tackling Workplace Diversity in Our Current Work Environment

January 21, 2017 | Categories:


Why Diversity Recruiting Is Imperative

Creating a culture that embraces diversity is essential when attracting new hires and retaining employees. Solving for diversity is not “one size fits all.” Many organizations have hired Diversity and Inclusion Officers to help make ongoing improvements while training and educating employees to ensure they follow legislation and employment law regulations. Of course, that is important, but companies need all leaders to buy into diversity.

There are countless studies and statistics show the positive impact diversity, inclusion and equality have with respect to performance, creativity, innovation and superior financial results.

While it’s important to adopt some of the practices we’ve laid out here, tackling workplace diversity is a fluid effort that should be examined throughout the year. We have introduced the Caldwell Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council to help clients develop diversity & inclusion (D&I) strategy and programs while aligning goals, people and processes.


What Does Diversity Mean in Today’s Culture?

How diversity is defined varies across organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), diversity is the similarities and differences between individuals accounting for all aspects of one’s personality and individual identity. Diversity within a company provides the potential for greater innovation and creativity. Beyond the basics of age, color, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and sexual orientation you’re probably most familiar with, there are factors like veteran status, physical characteristics, language, neurological processing differences, and family status, to keep in mind as you proceed through the hiring process.

Inclusion is what enables organizations to realize the business benefits of this potential. Being inclusive is the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member, according to SHRM.org.


Workplace Etiquette After the MeToo Movement

Many good things have come out of the MeToo Movement with respect to improving workplace environments and cultures. For the first time in a long time, the business community has been able to engage in a productive conversation about workplace behavior and shed a light on behaviors some perceive as hostile or uncomfortable.

While the movement has been largely positive, we have clients seeking advice on how to improve the working relationship between male and female employees. Our clients are not alone in their concerns. According to a Pew Research report, 55 percent of men and 47 percent of women said that recent developments in the MeToo movement have made it more difficult for men to navigate workplace interactions. Many men are unsure of how to approach female colleagues to attend an event or client dinner with them, or, they feel they are relearning what’s considered “appropriate” behavior with co-workers.

A lot of those communication challenges can be solved with a blunt, open conversation that gets the dialogue rolling. Asking a female employee what she feels comfortable with will go a long way in improving the professional relationship. But do not assume that what makes one woman comfortable will work for another. You might find it helpful to have a third-party speaker conduct training sessions at your office on communication practices and bias training. Unconscious bias can occur at all levels of management, hindering productivity and lowering morale if it’s not addressed.

Remember that most men want to lead by example and help drive gender and ethnic equality. When you bring the entire workforce together to come up with a solution, you will inspire a better work environment, drive production and create an overall better experience for your clients.

Empower Women By Getting Men Involved

While it is wonderful to encourage your female employees to meet peers, find mentors, and be inspired at women’s conferences and networking groups, recognize that men want to be a part of the solution when it comes to driving gender equality.

Create interactive learning opportunities at work where men and women practice active listening techniques, allow for different perspectives, and feel they have a safe place to openly discuss workplace challenges.

Team off-sites can offer another way to boost employee morale, improve communication and foster friendships amongst employees, which will translate to higher-quality relationships—and likely greater retention rates. 

Retaining Employees

While federal laws clearly define when and how employees can take time off to accommodate a life event, it’s important to create a flexible work environment that supports all employees throughout their life stages and needs.

Forging a culture that allows parents flexibility with childcare, provides competitive maternity and paternity leave, and generally cares about employees’ wellbeing outside of work will help you attract employees and retain those you have invested so much time and training into.

It is important to show that your company is actively promoting women and under-represented groups at the corporate level while crafting initiatives at subsidiary, division and portfolio company levels.

You might find that some of your company’s leaders could use peer-to-peer best practice guidance by adding specific programs such as the inclusion of adults with intellectual disabilities into your workforce. Other areas could be practices surrounding maternity leave and implementing and supporting a women’s return to the workplace program.

These are just a few situations where there are opportunities to improve diversity at your company. The Caldwell Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council can help guide and accelerate the execution of strategies within your organization.


Manage Your Team According to Personalities

Recognize that people have different experiences and upbringings and these components are reflected in their personalities as well as how they conduct themselves at work.

Utilize behavioral and cognitive employee assessments—like the Predictive Index—to help leaders make better decisions when it comes to building teams, promoting employees and understanding how an employee’s behaviors are best utilized at your company.

By applying assessments and workplace tools that give you a better understanding of your employee’s personality, you’ll learn management strategies and gain insights into how to more effectively communicate with them.

Using assessments can help leaders cater their management and communication styles to create a better workplace culture, resulting in a more effective and productive workforce. Assessments, like Predictive Index, determine how social, collaborative or independent an employee is. They also clearly define if they like to get in the weeds on a project and revel in the details or are happy in a more strategic role with big-picture thinking.

One Wall Street Journal article found that while an interview is critical for hiring managers to gauge a candidate’s leadership style and experience, executive assessments show the talent’s thought process and can be an excellent supplement that adds an important dimension toward understanding who the job seeker is as a professional and person. Taking the time to get to know talent and new employees will help them feel engaged and connected to your company culture faster.


Does Having a Diverse Leadership Team Mean You’re Covered?

While it’s a good start to have a diverse leadership team or board that represents gender diversity, ethnic diversity, and lifestyle diversity, you need diversity at every level of the company so employees can build a career within the organization.

Engage with junior staff through blind surveys or employee outreach programs to obtain a better understanding of how diverse your employees think the company is and whether improvements need to be made. Gather their feedback and address these findings with upper management and Human Resources while creating an initiative for improvement.

Creating a Diversity Solution for Your Business

Diversity and inclusion’s greatest value comes when it is embraced not only as a set of HR initiatives but also as a holistic business program. Linking your strategy to include business, financial management leaders and influencers creates this connection that can ultimately deliver increased performance and financial value.


Our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council with niche expertise is aimed at providing strategic insight, external accountability and expert guidance to clients in developing diversity and inclusion strategy and programs while aligning goals, people and processes. Caldwell wants to help you use talent and leverage them to take your business to its full potential. Our relationships with established sitting executives and renowned thought leaders creates a bespoke council that’s tailored to your company’s unique culture and goals.

Caldwell leverages our skills and networks to also provide agile talent solutions in the form of flexible and on-demand executive advisory services for companies looking for support in strategy and operations. C

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