Defining Diversity and Why It Matters
Having tough conversations about diversity and working towards a more inclusive environment should be a vital part of any successful business.
But what, exactly, is diversity? We define diversity as understanding, accepting, and valuing differences in races, ethnicities, genders, ages and more. Diversity can also include recognizing and respecting differences in education, skill sets, abilities and experiences.
To address diversity in the workplace, you have to be intentional. You also have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and accept that achieving diversity isn’t easy. But it will be worth it in the long run. A study by researchers at MIT found that diverse teams beat teams composed of homogenous individuals every time (on issues such as office satisfaction, cooperation and morale).
Below you’ll find some helpful hints and tips for improving your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Use it as a starting point to guide you in the right direction.
The Path to a Culturally Diverse Workplace
The first step in making diversity and inclusion a priority at your organization is to get the executive team on board. Making diversity a core value of your company is a mindful shift and getting even small initiatives off the ground will be much more likely to succeed with support from leadership.
Two Key Strategies to Gain Executive Support
- Use data to show how diversity benefits the company. Share numbers that support your suggested changes or ideas. Such as these stats from McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report:
- Companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to outperform those without diversity initiatives.
- Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies in the bottom quartile for both gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above average financial returns that the average companies in the set (bottom-quartile companies are lagging, rather than just not leading)
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Demonstrate company-wide support. Solicit input from all employee levels and present it to executive leadership. Consider inviting employees to take part in small focus groups, task forces or committees, or even informal discussions to provide feedback and ideas. Use the supportive and critical findings (while protecting individual identities) to paint a picture that motivates leadership.
This two-pronged approach of storytelling combined with data can help you prepare messaging that supports your focus on strategically improving diversity and inclusion at your company. Although getting investments from leadership might be easier said than done, it’s a great first step in the right direction.
Build an Inclusive Culture from the Inside Out
Companies typically start the conversation on solving diversity problems with “How do we hire more minorities?” But many successful diversity initiatives don’t start with hiring at all, but rather with taking better care of the employees you already have (inclusion). A little self-reflection and effort to be improve can go a long way.
3 Tips to Improving Culture at Work:
- Find out what your company culture is really like. Invite employees at every level to tell you about their impressions of the current culture and how they think it could improve. Open yourself up to finding and fixing inequalities or exclusive practices. Consider an anonymous survey with a company-wide incentive to participate.
- Evaluate your day-to-day. Take a look at the meetings you’re a part of, the events your teammates plan and the daily office management tasks. Research shows that women and people of color are often expected to take on “office housework” such as ordering lunches, cleaning up the kitchen, taking notes, or party planning, tasks which often gets in the way of taking on more meaningful (promotion-worthy) work. Make the effort to ensure that office management and culture building is evenly distributed amongst everyone in the office. Don’t assume someone enjoys taking on work outside of their job description. If they do enjoy it, encourage them to identify a partner or delegate some of the responsibility.
- Be flexible. Empower employees to make the choices that are right for them when it comes to when and where to work. While it may not be applicable for all industries, many companies continue taking steps to offer increased flexibility. Explore options such as working remotely or allowing employees to choose how to spend their PTO or holiday time.
How Flexible Should You Be?
- 43% of companies offer holidays that allow employees to take time off based on their personal religious of cultural situation (SHRM)
- 57% of organizations offer flexible schedules (SHRM)
- Employers offering a work-from-home option has grown 40% in the past 5 years (Fundera)
- 2/3 of managers who offer telecommuting report that employees who work from home are overall more productive (Fundera)
Practice Diversity Recruiting and Interviewing
Evaluating and improving your recruitment process can make a huge impact in the types of candidates you attract. Embed inclusive best practices into each step, from the job descriptions and stock photos posted on your website to the unconscious bias your hiring managers might bring to the table.
5 Steps to Recruitment Diversity
- Audit your Careers and About Us pages.
“Work hard, play hard” is not a culture. At least not one that will attract underrepresented groups. Instead, consider highlighting some of the inclusive values and benefits your company offers. Use gender-neutral language that would appeal to people from a variety of backgrounds. Not sure how your current pages and practices measure up? Ask employees or consider a post-interview survey for candidates.
- Write better job descriptions.
Stop describing who a candidate should be and start describing the jobs to be done. Language that focuses too much on personality traits and not enough on the role and responsibilities can discourage diverse candidates. In addition, listing too many specific requirements can dissuade candidates who may be more than capable of doing the job.Women only applied for a role when they believed they met 100% of the criteria, while men were happy to apply when they felt they met 60% of the requirements.
- Start an open dialogue about biases.
We all have biases. Unconscious or not, the most important thing we can do is acknowledge and check those biases. Start an open dialogue with hiring managers about how to avoid bias during interviews. Our subconscious often equates stereotypical images to the real deal. But fitting a certain stereotype (such as a white male computer science grad being the perfect programmer) doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of work an individual can deliver.Similarly, asking “Does she feel like a leader to you?” isn’t helpful in discovering whether or not someone has leadership experience or qualities. Have tough conversations about what “culture fit” means at your company and understand how hiring through that lens can building teams of people who all look and think the same—which is the opposite of diversity.
According to Glassdoor, 45% of people think that hiring managers are in the best position to increase diversity
(Compared to HR or the CEO).
- Limit employee referrals.
While they can be a great resource for attracting smart and trustworthy candidates, referrals can be detrimental to hiring diverse candidates. Our friends, family, and colleagues tend to share our experiences, education, demographics, and cultural backgrounds. A healthy referral program can quickly lead to a homogenous workplace. Consider setting a benchmark or limit for what percentage of your new hires can come from referrals.
- Diversify your talent pipeline.
Studies by the Social Mobility Commission show many industries aren’t hiring talented young people from less advantaged backgrounds because they primarily recruit from a small pool of elite universities and hire those who fit in with the culture. If you recruit from local colleges or universities, consider recruiting from high school programs or technical programs as well.Explore social media platforms such as Medium or Quora for users with a passion for sharing their knowledge on a specific industry or topic. Also, consider a recruiting solution that allows you to select diversity categories and offers a dashboard showing how many jobs were boosted for diversity, as well as revealing your diversity population before and after the boost.
And instead of solely focusing on posting jobs on the usual suspects of LinkedIn and Indeed, consider listing open roles on diversity-specific sites such as Racing Toward Diversity, Diversity Jobs, or Diversity Recruiting Center.
Take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) available through December 31, 2025 to employers who hire individuals from certain targeted groups (such as veterans or people who were previously convicted). And be sure to attend networking events outside of your usual community or industry, meet new people, and tell them you’re hiring!
Audit Your Job Descriptions by Asking:
- Are the stated requirements really necessary to do the job or are they just our preferences? Requirements should be just that… requirements.
- Can we evaluate people from different educational backgrounds? Is a Bachelor’s degree really needed to do the job?
- Would we consider a candidate with less experience? If so, can we remove or reduce the number of years required?
- Is the candidate’s past company size, industry, or job title truly relevant? Or are we just looking for specific skills we associate with those experiences?
Elevate Your Onboarding Experience
4 Ways to Make New Hires Feel Included
- Discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion during onboarding.
Clearly define what diversity and inclusion means to your company and incorporate that message into your onboarding process or materials. Everyone who joins your organization should be aware of your goals and commitment to building an inclusive workplace. Starting off on the right foot helps new hires feel comfortable speaking up if their experience down the road doesn’t align with those values.
- Coach existing teams on how to be inclusive to new hires.
An inclusive culture doesn’t force individuals to fit into the existing culture, it evolves to incorporate new hires and their unique perspectives. Teach managers how to accommodate different communication styles and ensure existing processes are inclusive. Provide recommendations for new hire welcome events or team building activities and locations. Think beyond happy hours (which are not inclusive to those who may not drink for medical, religious or personal reasons)!
- Evaluate welcome packages or swag.
If your company offers a welcome package or branded item for new hires, make sure it’s something everyone would like or use. Consider items that could be enjoyed by new hires of all cultures, genders or abilities.
- Create a safe place or channel for feedback, from the beginning.
Whether it’s a direct message, email inbox, physical suggestion box, or office hours, new hires should know where they can comfortably share feedback and ideas about the company’s culture or commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Paycor’s Recruiting Solutions Can Help
The recommendations in this guide are a great starting point for helping you strategically approach diversity and inclusion at your organization. At Paycor, we’re committed to building solutions to help your most pressing recruiting challenges. Here’s how:
Paycor Smart Sourcing
Paycor Smart Sourcing, the newest addition to Paycor Recruiting, offers AI-based functionality that automates sourcing and increases candidate diversity. The tool finds active job seekers, as well as passive candidates who might not even be on the hunt, from a database of more than 1.5 billion profiles. It’s also 25% faster in sourcing candidates, reduces sourcing costs by 28%, increases the number of interviews by 30%, uncovers 67% of the talent pool other solutions miss, and it boosts your pipeline of diverse candidates by 2-10x!
Diversity-Focused Dashboards in Paycor Analytics
Analytics provide deep insight into your organization’s diversity. See data on gender diversity and leadership, minority diversity and leadership, veterans and more. Drill down on how your organization is retaining women and minorities. Benchmark against the latest EEOC data and get the data needed to help you launch strategic recruitment and retention programs.
Interview Scorecards in Paycor Recruiting
Use scorecards to standardize your interview evaluation process and eliminate group-think. Although they may feel comfortable and conversational, unstructured interviews can quickly result in bias and irrelevant information. Using a uniform scorecard tool for reviewers to evaluate candidates will make your hiring process more equitable and efficient.