5 tips to help you create a diverse business
Are you looking to grow your small business with a strategy that improves recruitment and retention? That helps foster innovation? And can help improve customer satisfaction? Building a more diverse and inclusive business can have a positive impact on your business.
What is a diverse business?
Traditionally, people may think of diversity in your business as employees with diverse personal characteristics - from gender identity to economic status and religious affiliation to ethnicity. But a diverse business thinks beyond employees and the traditional characteristics to embrace diversity in customers and suppliers.
How does diversity benefit business?
Research by management consultant McKinsey & Co. has repeatedly found a positive correlation between gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity and financial performance. McKinsey researchers have suggested that diversity could help companies attract top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision-making—all of which are key to profitability.
Small businesses that make diversity a priority may experience less turnover in their workforce, more employee, supplier, and customer engagement, and more creative, innovative ideas from employees, suppliers, and customers with different life experiences and perspectives.
Tips to create a diverse small business
While it may seem challenging for small businesses to achieve greater diversity, there are ways that even small family-owned operations or self-employed people can make diversity a priority.
Use these five strategies to incorporate diversity into your business:
1. Learn to recognize unconscious bias.
"Unconscious bias" refers to a natural tendency to align ourselves with others who are like us. The existence of this type of bias means good intentions aren't always enough to achieve greater diversity.
The first step to help overcome unconscious bias is to acknowledge that it exists. Be mindful of your thought processes and decisions. Next, is to learn more about the different types of biases. For example, affinity bias makes us naturally gravitate to people who are similar to us while confirmation bias leads us to look for information that supports our existing beliefs.
2. Add diversity to your mission statement.
A company mission statement can help you communicate your company's values to all of your stakeholders, including your prospective and current employees, suppliers, and customers. While a mission statement doesn't create reality, it sets the tone and can be used as a guide to inspire decisions and actions that are in line with and support the company's values.
3. Build a diverse team.
To attract a wider and more diverse pool of job applicants, post notices of job openings online and at public places, like local colleges and employment centers. Focus your search on candidates' job-related skills rather than on whether a particular candidate "feels like a good fit" for your company. Try to interview multiple well-qualified candidates for each position you need to fill.
4. Encourage conversation and ideation.
Employees, suppliers, and customers can be the best source to help you naturally create a more diverse business. When working on a project or even just managing day-to-day operations, by consulting with a variety of people with different perspectives and backgrounds you’re naturally going to get more diverse ideas and solutions. Consulting those same resources can also be a good source for suggestions to improve your business's diversity. When you solicit ideas, try to engage with everyone in the same way so no one feels marginalized, spotlighted, or burdened with a special obligation to share their personal story or become your go-to "expert" in diversity.
5. Make your business accessible to all.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment and access to businesses that provide goods and services to the general public. The ADA.gov website offers advice and tips to help businesses comply. Featured topics include service animals, parking, communication, mobility devices, and more. Use these materials to educate yourself and your employees and look for ways to go beyond the basics in welcoming everyone to your company.
How diversity can lead to success.
Diversity in business can be a true game-changer. Building relationships with team members, vendors, and customers that reflect different perspectives can lead to many positive outcomes including faster growth, innovation, and a deeper connection within the community.