1. Make sure that your decision making meetings and staff is diversified. Often in business there is a diversity program in place that involves mentoring and the like, but also all too often there is no diversity in the board room or in key staff meetings. If you want your company to be seen as a real leader in its diversity efforts and one that clearly defines and understands what it truly means to be diverse, make sure your important decision making meetings is as diverse as your advertisement.
2. Don’t just go after the black guy (or girl). Contrary to popular ‘PC’ belief, being diverse is not just about adding some African American bodies to warm up seats. That’s just as bland as adding a few flakes of pepper to salt and thinking you’ve created a deliciously gourmet masterpiece. That is not diversity. It’s ok to grab a black guy or girl for your decision making team, but after you do, also grab someone with a disability and someone who is a veteran of this great nation of ours. Once you break the status quo in your thinking and the way your executive meetings operate, you’ll open your business up to a much broader audience and take it to the next level- whatever that means for your particular brand and industry.
3. Be more than just a diversity front. One potentially fatal mistake is hurriedly creating a diversity job position just because you need one at the moment. Creating job titles (or just slapping one on someone) to pursue your own agenda or to create a facade for the public only makes you look like a trend hopping phony. Don’t do it. Create a position for a diversity officer or manager and clearly define what that role means. Be sure to discuss in detail what your diversity goals are and what your company’s vision is for achieving those goals. Clearly define the roles of the person(s) who is responsible for getting your diversity message out and seek their guidance on all issues- not just the ones that you feel like you don’t want to handle yourself.
4. Don’t just spend on diversity once. Diversity is an ongoing process in business and understanding what it means can be tough for employees and executive level staff. Let’s face it, people get used to doing business the way that they’ve been doing it and tend to respect and gravitate towards people who are like them. Creating opportunities for your staff to learn what diversity actually means and what the company’s goals are for diversity can contribute to the overall company culture. It can also help to increase morale in those employees who fit into the ‘minority’ or ‘double’ or even ‘triple’ minority categories. If you don’t have an ongoing budget for diversity training and recruiting- you’re not the diversity warrior that you thought you were.
5.Cut out the cliches. Create diversity campaign ads that are true to your message- not just ones with the very trite, one Asian, one black, one white woman, with the white guy in the back picture that you found while online photo hunting. Diversity at work is more than just color or gender- it’s about different lifestyles, ideas, techniques, and contributions.
6. Make sure that you include mothers in your diversity efforts. One very important, yet often neglected group in diversity talks is mothers. Mothers are not only distinctly different from other employees with different needs, but they are also distinctly different from one another. A mother could be single, married, have multiples, taking care of a disabled child, or carrying multiple roles like mother-employee-student-wife. Consider mothers when making key decisions in your company and ensure that your policies are conducive to the diverse lifestyles that all mothers have.
Zekita Asuquo is a St. Louis based Independent Consultant, Diversity Manager, and Freelance Writer who specializes in minority and women’s issues. Her work has been featured by ABC World News, TheRoot.com, Clutch Magazine, St. Louis American Newspaper, and several other African American news and information publications. She has been a guest on radio shows including Roland S. Martin, The Intersection with Rebecca Roberts, and Charlie Brennan on CBS/KMOX. She can be reached at [email protected].