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Diversity is an important element of every workplace. Employees of different backgrounds, genders, races, ages, religions and orientations bring valuable new ideas and perspectives to your company.

In addition, McKinsey & Company has found that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform companies in the bottom quartile of diversity. And as Scientific American noted, research has shown that diverse groups are more innovative than homogenous ones.

Does your business need to improve its diversity? Here’s what your organization can learn from companies that receive top marks for hiring diversity:

1. Give employees a platform
Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand – you can’t have one without the other. Employees of all backgrounds need to feel welcomed and supported in their work environments. One way to create this supportive and positive work culture is to give employees a platform to voice their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

AT&T is one company that has been commended for its diversity. The organization established 12 employee resource committees that provide mentorship and advocacy for diverse groups, including women and people with disabilities, according to FastCompany. The group meetups are informal and give employees the chance to share their thoughts and opinions in a safe space. Employees may also join the meetings because they want to learn more about different cultures, as Cynthia Marshall, senior vice president, human resource and chief diversity officer at AT&T told the source.
Your organization can create similar initiatives to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

2. Get buy-in from leadership
While diversity should be present in all levels of a company’s organizational structure, it is essential that leadership and executives are actively supportive of creating a diverse workplace.

Without this buy-in from the top, a company can struggle to create cohesive diversity programs, and will fail to be inclusive over the long term.

At New York Life, which was included on the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, Chairman and CEO Ted Mathas is vocal about his commitment to diversifying his workforce.

“A company that embraces different backgrounds and different opinions – one that is open, flexible, and respectful – produces the best results for the increasingly diverse communities it serves,” he said.

Company leaders can exhibit their commitment to diversity by holding quarterly meetings to share stats and updates on hiring diversity, aligning business strategy with inclusiveness initiatives, contributing to community organizations supporting diverse populations and updating the company mission statement and values to reflect diversity and inclusion.

Furthermore, CEOs that champion diversity don’t see it as something that takes a single step to accomplish, and then it’s finished. Instead, they embrace diversity as an ongoing commitment, as the Harvard Business Review explained.

3. Establish mentorship programs

In addition to giving employees platforms to share their thoughts and getting executive buy-in, companies aiming to improve their diversity should also establish mentorship programs. Mentorship programs exist at many of the world’s most widely respected companies for diversity, including General Motors.

The company, which was also on DiversityInc’s Top 40 list, runs a mentoring program as part of its LGBT employee resource group. The group has more than 500 members. Plus, members of GE’s executive diversity council take part in the company’s mentorship programs.
Mentors facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences and professional perspectives, helping create bonds between employees and a commitment to supporting and including everyone.

Giving employees a platform, getting leadership buy-in and establishing mentorship programs: Three lessons your company can learn to help improve hiring diversity.

What is your organization doing to promote diversity and inclusion?

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