Today’s cultural and political climate are illuminating diversity and inclusion in the workplace more than ever before. If you don’t think your employees are concerned about these issues, think again. With conversations about race and equality going on all over the country and online, chances are that your employees and coworkers and thinking about this topic. Offering diversity and inclusion training is part of the solution, but you may also want to go back and look at your employee handbook. You might find some unintentionally discriminatory policies in there. These policies that could be putting your office culture at risk for toxicity. They might be putting the company at risk for lawsuits. They might even be the reason you can’t recruit or retain the top talent you need.
Here are 3 places you should check in your employee handbook: your grooming and appearance policies, the lists of colleges you recruit and hire from, and your policies surrounding nepotism.
Grooming policies that hurt diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Grooming and appearance policies have become the hiding place for insidious racism in company culture. Many grooming and appearance policies unwittingly hamper inclusive culture in your office. In some ways, race is expressed through appearance, and sometimes these visual cues are outlawed by your employee handbook. Hairstyles are a common problem. This could include banning dreadlocks or kinky or curly hair. Some policies might unintentionally require particular groups of people to have to do extra work every day to essentially make their hair look more like the hair of a typical white, middle class person. Policies surrounding clothing or jewelry might also be problematic, unintentionally banning the kinds of attire that particular cultures or groups wear.
Recruiting policies and strategies that pre-empt diversity and inclusion in the workplace
While your recruiting polices might not seem overtly racist, or problematic, they could be shutting out certain minority or cultural groups. One common example is when you have a list of colleges you frequently recruit or hire from. If the list of schools you frequently recruit from in your handbook doesn’t include historically black universities or colleges (HBUs or HBCs), you’re already discriminating against black applicants. Sometimes it’s even more subtle than this. Certain colleges would never indicate that they are for one group or another, but in practice, their student body is a pretty homogenous population.
One easy test to see if your recruiting policies and strategies are falling short is just to look around you at the office. Is everyone you see from the same ethnicity, culture, and/or socioeconomic background? If it seems like everyone is the same, it’s time to work with your hr services to come up with a better strategy. Find ways to advertise your job openings and give an equal opportunity to candidates from all walks of life. Your company will only benefit when meetings are full of people with different perspectives and ideas. When you foster a truly inclusive culture, you also foster the best kind of innovation and collaboration.
Are your anti-nepotism policies too weak for diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
It’s very standard for a company to want to hire from referrals, or even family members. You know you’re probably getting great buy-in from the candidate if somebody they know enjoys working for your group enough to share a job opening. If they’re a friend or relative of a current employee, they’re more likely to be a great culture fit because they probably share many similarities. However, there’s a big problem with not curbing these kinds of hiring practices to some extent: as you hire more of the same people you already have in your workforce, you’re not hiring people who are different than those in your workforce.
Again, a great litmus test to see the effect of these practices is to look around you. How may people of different races, religions, ethnicities, cultures, etc, work at your company? If the employee roster is homogenous, you know it’s time to make stronger anti-nepotism policies, as well as policies that push your hiring initiatives to include externally sourced candidates. Through working with companies like MP, who provide hr consulting, you can build better policies in this area and promote a more diverse workforce.
These items may seem daunting, but don’t think of them as optional. Do the right thing ethically and for your company. Make sure your strategic human resource planning supports an inclusive culture, and you’ll find your employees are happier and more productive, your bottom line is more robust, and you can be proud of the way your company is contributing to making important social changes.
Learn more about how MP’s team of certified HR experts can help.
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