According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an essential factor when considering employment opportunities. More than 50% of employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.
While diversity and inclusion are vital for recruiting top talent and employee retention, the data prove that it's also critical for innovation and business performance.
Here are four ways that mid-sized companies approach diversity and inclusion in their organizations.
1. Be transparent on critical fairness issues: Pariveda Solutions
Pariveda's Vice President of People, Tom Cunningham, advises companies to nail the essential building blocks of diversity and inclusion by starting with talent acquisition and transparency.
"To attract a diverse set of candidates, a company needs to demonstrate a commitment to fairness for all employees. And transparent practices around evaluation and compensation are crucial to a sense of fairness," he says.
Tom recommends being as open as you can with salaries, pay structures, and promotion processes.
"One method is to provide transparent compensation that is role-based," he says. "Roles within the company should have clear accountabilities, and compensation should be proportionate to the capabilities required to be successful in the role.
"Additionally, clear, published promotion criteria with all promotions decided by a committee can reduce the effects of bias."
"We know exactly how much each role, and therefore, each person at the company makes," says one female employee at Pariveda. "This means that women do not experience any gender-based salary discrimination, and we all know it."
"I always know where my career path at this company leads," says another female employee. "With development focus points, mentor assistance, and a clear company-wide 'Expectations Framework,' employees are set up to succeed."
In addition to attracting diverse talent, Pariveda's commitment to fairness through transparency is a critical growth readiness indicator. The company is setting themselves up for future success by openly sharing their commitment to fair compensation and promotions decisions.
These are key attributes have a tendency to slip when companies increase their headcount before their culture is ready to scale.
2. Make D&I a business decision: Collaborative Solutions
Many companies say that they have people-focused cultures, but you can't follow through on that commitment without focusing on the state of diversity and inclusion in your workplace.
Collaborative Solutions "always places people as our first priority," says the company's president and chief culture officer, Bob Maller. "Our focus on employees and culture has not only set us up for success within our ecosystem but has also enabled us to seamlessly establish our Diversity & Inclusion program."
Bob sees the Diversity & Inclusion council as "key to continued success" for the finance and HR consultancy's future.
Any company that promises a people-focused culture has an imperative to include every perspective. Or that disconnect will be resoundingly obvious and demotivating in their culture.
Collaborative invested in a new position to lead the council and assigned an executive sponsor. In keeping with its values, Collaborative involved team members from all areas of the business to ensure the adoption of the council's initiatives. They also proactively collected employee feedback to drive the council's focus.
This cross-functional approach is just one example of how Collaborative practices Innovation By All™. Every employee is invited into the innovation process so that the company can operate with greater agility, beat sales targets, and outperform their competition.
"As a growing global company, it is our responsibility to our current and future employees to build upon our diverse and inclusive environment to be a great place to work for all," says Bob.
3. Build inclusion from day one: Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation
"For inclusion and diversity to be woven into the company fabric, it must be built in from the beginning," says Intuitive's Chairman, Harold R. Brewer.
"Our Principles of Inclusion "For All" were written in the first few days of founding, and we've never changed a word. We all commit to participate, be respectful, champion inclusion, find a way to mentor and be mentored, be tolerant and positive, and welcome ideas that are different."
Intuitive's approach doesn't rest on principle, but they execute it through clear expectations about the daily choices their people are expected to make. For example, Intuitive assumes personal accountability from employees to seek out responsibilities -- complemented by leaders and teammates who go above and beyond to support each other's advancement.
"Management is exceptional," says an African-American employee. "They care about their people as much as their customers. They put great efforts into finding where people best fit in the organization and providing the opportunity for people to move into roles where they will likely excel."
This support pays off for the aerospace engineering and analysis firm through an incredibly engaged workforce. 98% of employees say people are willing to give extra to get work done – and this trend holds across age, gender, race/ethnicity and job role.
"Our company strongly encourages creativity, welcomes initiative, seeks excellence and rewards improvement," explains Harold. "We expect to hold open the door of opportunity, without discrimination, to those who will prepare themselves for more responsibility."
4. View D&I as a precursor to innovation: Bankers Healthcare Group
"My advice is to strive to hire people with different backgrounds, and then provide multiple platforms within the company that allow their opinions and ideas to be heard and executed," says Eric Castro, Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG) 's founding partner.
Diversity is more than hiring diverse people; it's valuing and including all people, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. This idea needs to resonate throughout the organization, and employees say that Bankers Healthcare Group expresses that across all levels of management.
"Leadership truly believes that empowering and investing in staff, and creating a culture where people can thrive, is critical to our success and it shows," says a female employee. "The level of attention to how our company operates and works together to grow, both personally and professionally, is unmatched in the financial industry.
"There are programs for building leaders and every office engages with one another via video calls to build deeper relationships. Staff across all levels are constantly recognized for their achievements and dedication, and people are allowed to test new ideas and fail without being criticized or punished."
Eric says this approach has made an enormous difference to the firm. "Without diversity, BHG wouldn't be where it is today," he says. "Some of BHG's best ideas, both in the business and in HR, have come from our diverse workforce."