Diversity and Inclusion—the hot button topic of HR practices today. All companies want to have a diverse workforce and be known for their inclusive environments.
I mean, wouldn’t you? Workplace diversity is important, but becoming more diverse can be a struggle for some companies. Change is difficult, and many companies often don’t see the value of spending the time and capital for it.
However, the facts speak for themselves. Diverse companies are reported to be more innovative, have better employee retention, and enjoy higher profits, among other benefits. Implementing workplace diversity and inclusion doesn’t have to be a complicated and arduous process. We have compiled a list of ideas that promote inclusion and workplace diversity.
To keep this list of diversity and inclusion activities and ideas best organized, we have separated them into the following categories:
- Recruiting Strategies
- Workplace Strategies
- Retention Strategies
COVID-19 Update: Because many organizations are now operating remotely to help keep employees and customers safe, some of these diversity and inclusion activities may not be possible. However, the majority of the ideas listed below can still be implemented or slightly revised to work remotely.
Great Ideas for Diversity and Inclusion Activities in the Workplace
Recruiting Strategies for Building a Diverse Workforce
- Recruit diverse workers
Your company does not become diverse overnight, and it does not happen without taking the first step in recruiting diverse workers. This is especially relevant if you are having problems filling positions. The wider your recruitment scope, the more qualified candidates you will find.
- Create a company diversity and inclusion policy
If you have specific language attached to your diversity and inclusion policy, it makes it much easier for employees to process and implement it. You should make this statement short, to the point, and it should be posted everywhere relevant. If you can even implement it into your mission statement, or something similar, even better.
- Initiate equal pay policies across your organization
This should be a fairly simple one to understand. People in the same position with similar levels of experience in your company should be getting equal pay. No exceptions to this rule should be made. This piece by Forbes, offers great examples of companies with equal pay policies.
- Make sure that equal pay policies are applied even in the interview process (no negotiation, no exceptions)
Equal pay policies can be implemented for interview processes as well. They make sure that people cannot negotiate their way to a higher salary. These are great equalizers because women are statistically less likely to lobby for higher pay in their initial interviews. Initiating an equal pay policy is a great way to make sure that everyone who has the same experience, and qualifications for a job starts at the same place.
- Make initial candidate screening a blind screening
A great way to make sure that you are not introducing any biases into your interview process is to have blind screenings. Blind screenings are application screens that are based on applicable experience and skills only. This should allow the candidate some time to discuss their unique assets in an interview.
- Include varied employees in the interview process
The best way to continue bringing on a diverse staff is to show them that you have already accepted many diverse individuals. However, there is a fine line to this. Don’t overuse your diverse employees and make them feel like an advertising campaign and not valued employees with the authority to interview.
- Have a structured interview process
A highly structured interview process is another great way to promote inclusivity. If everyone gets the same interview process, it gives all candidates the same chance at the job. Read this article for examples on how to best conduct a structured interview.
- Ensure training and first months on the job are smooth for all new hires
An established training program for new hires is a great way to make sure that they feel welcome, and that they are a valued new member of the team. We also advise frequent check-ins during those first few months so that any kinks in the training program, or their position, are worked out before they become a problem.
- Promote your D&I to attract more D&I
Many candidates are just looking for a safe space where they can do their job to the best of their abilities. Broadcast that your company is the place they should be for this on all job descriptions and postings.
- Encourage veteran services and specific hiring practices
Workplace diversity also applies to veterans. Often a forgotten group, make sure they know what jobs they would be qualified for in your company by including military job codes, and specific skills in your job postings.
- Provide socioeconomic assistance
If your company is in a city that is less affordable for entry-level and junior employees, consider offering affordable housing options, employee cafeterias, and options to help with cost of living.
- Hiring practices to avoid ageism
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace does not just include people of different cultures, races, and genders. It also includes people from different generations and age groups.
Workplace Strategies to Improve Morale and Inclusivity
- Keep Company Language Gender-Neutral
Making sure that all company communications are gender-neutral is a great start to making your company inclusive. We also advise that this language be used in all company job postings. Use of inclusive language will lead to a more diverse pool of candidates.
- Treat colleagues the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated
This is a common misconception we are taught from childhood, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. While this is a good piece of advice when you’re teaching little kids how to behave around other people, it doesn’t translate as well to adulthood. Create a workplace culture that promotes good communication between coworkers, and that your employees feel comfortable voicing how they would like to be addressed and treated.
- Have open lines of communication where issues can be discussed and improved upon
Having an open communication policy, especially with your HR department, is a great way to promote inclusion in your workplace. When everyone feels valued and their opinion is heard and matters, they are more likely to be happier in your workplace.
- Provide sensitivity training
Sensitivity training or diversity workshops educate your employees on how their attitudes and behaviors may unwittingly cause offense to their co-workers or others around them.
- Support the creation of affinity groups within your office
Sometimes employees need a safe space to build a community with like-minded people, and employers should support that through employee resource groups. Great examples of this is Synchrony Financial’s Diversity Network. Read more about their groups here.
- Allow groups, or the company, to do community outreach
A great way to promote inclusion and diversity is by doing outreach to local groups that are meaningful to your company and mission. PetSmart is a great local example of this, read more about their initiatives here.
- Encourage management involvement in affinity organizations and outreach groups
Diversity and inclusion happen from the top down. Encourage management to take part in diversity and inclusion activities at work with their teams. It will allow for bonding and a better understanding of their teams.
- Initiate corporate-wide culture change for diversity and inclusion
In order to have a truly diverse and inclusive company culture, your whole company has to change to adapt to it. Implement this change at a higher level, not just departmentally.
- Have your company participate in a team building and communication styles workshop
Communication assessments are a great way to build better teams, as well as learn how to communicate with your coworkers and employees. A great tool for this is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator.
- Recruit diverse workers
Diversity Workshop Ideas: How to Plan and Facilitate
Diversity workshops can be planned either in-house or by an external consultant. Many choose to outsource the whole experience to experts who specialize in hosting workshops and customized events for inclusion promotion.
If you choose to plan and host your own internally, here are a few diversity workshop ideas to set the stage:
- Decide on how to organize attendees. You can have an organization-wide starting point followed by smaller breakout sessions that mix all departments or keep working teams together. If group members aren’t familiar with each other, extra ice breakers may be necessary.
- Set clear ground rules and expectations for the workshop, including end-of-day goals and how to speak respectfully to others during discussions.
- Carefully plan the workshop’s content. Whether this comes from off-site consultants or leadership, the content should be focused on organizational goals and pain points.
- Incorporate diversity games and activities to engage and create a more casual environment.
- Solicit feedback after the workshop ends to improve for future events.
- Give recognition for a job well done
This is an easy one to implement across teams. Giving recognition for someone doing an exceptional job is a wonderful way to promote inclusion in your company.
- Create inclusive company swag
Your company gear should have options for all genders. For example, options for t-shirts or jackets with a more feminine cut. One-size-fits-all tees are never a fun look for everyone.
- Provide unconscious bias training
We don’t want to admit it, but we all have unconscious biases. They are ingrained into us via society, and there is little we can do to prevent them from existing. However, providing unconscious bias training is a wonderful way to make people aware of it, and help them move past it.
- Adjust the work environment to make it comfortable for everyone
Comfortable for everyone means temperature, desks, chairs, essentially your whole office. Make it a place you want to be. Give people, especially those with disabilities, the ability to adapt their work environment to make them more comfortable and productive.
- Promote team bonding activities
Encourage your manager to build better and more cohesive teams with diversity and inclusion activities at work. A great way to do this is with team bonding activities. This can be anything from going bowling as a team, to doing a full company retreat weekend. Create better teams to promote more inclusion!
How to Plan a Diversity Day in the Workplace
While having occasional diversity games or activities to engage your organization will bring attention to an integral part of the workplace, planning a designated day in the year puts the spotlight on understanding everyone’s unique differences.
By setting time aside, workers don’t need to worry about running to the next meeting or checking their inboxes as they listen to a diversity training video in the background. In addition, it’s a fun way to engage with coworkers in a stress-free environment and break the ice.
Here are some ideas to plan a diversity day in your organization:
- Appoint a diversity committee or HR individual to lead the planning.
- Get leadership’s buy-in to free up a day or half-day organization-wide for this event.
- Plan a schedule using diversity day ideas on this list.
- Hire keynote speakers from your committee or experts in the field.
- Cater food and beverages to promote a laid-back atmosphere and engage workers.
- Solicit everyone’s feedback afterward to make improvements for next year’s diversity day.
- Bring in a third-party observer
If your company is struggling to put together an effective diversity and inclusion strategy, you might need to bring in a third party expert. Or, a Diversity and Inclusion consultant. There are many companies that specialize in diversity and inclusion policies that would be able to look at your organization from a subjective point of view.
- Hold inclusive meetings
Inclusive meetings are a great way to promote a cohesive and inclusion based workplace. Allow anyone relevant to the meeting to attend, it will open the lines of communication and maybe that person will have a great idea to contribute!
- Bring in a third-party observer
- Institute a “no interruptions” policy
During these inclusive meetings, institute a no interruptions policy. Everyone should get to contribute their idea, and should not be talked over.
- Keep bathroom signage inclusive
Employees who do not identify with gender norms will appreciate this gender-inclusive signage. You can also do this by having single stall restrooms for all genders.
- Make sure office tasks are split equally, or in a chore chart, if your office is small
There is always the one employee who ends up doing the office dishes, or general cleaning, and it should not be this way. Split up these tasks equally between teams, or create a chore chart.
- Publish signage and notification of policies
Having company policies published across your office is a great way to make sure everyone is aware of your diversity and inclusion policies, and it’s a good reminder throughout their day.
- Instill a PTO Day for Voting
Providing a PTO day for voting is another way to encourage diversity in the workplace.
- Allow for religious practices in the workplace
Allow employees to practice their religion in the workplace. Many religions practice prayer multiple times a day, and this is a great way to make them feel included.
- Hand out Health and Wellness reimbursements
Workplace diversity can also be fostered by workplace well-being. Promote this with health and wellness reimbursements for gym memberships, on-site yoga classes, or once a month massages.
- Offer tuition reimbursement and support for continued education
Education is only getting more and more expensive, and it is a large burden on potential employees. Offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees, as well as tuition help for those who want to pursue graduate level education.
- Create offices suited for all physical abilities
Your office should be suited for people of all abilities, and comfortable for them as well.
Inclusive Retention Strategies to Keep Your Star Players
- Keep your workers happy and gain loyalty of all employees
In a 2018 study conducted by Ranstad, people leave jobs because of practical reasons that affect work and life balance, relationships and respect, and lack of career potential. Apply this knowledge to your workplace. A positive workplace coupled with diverse recruiting practices will ultimately lead to a better, more inclusive workplace.
- Give educational workshops
Giving your employees chances to learn about new cultures, different viewpoints, and other lifestyles is a great way to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Try using any of these 55+ diversity workshop ideas.
- Institute a “no interruptions” policy
- Offer flexible PTO
This is one of our favorite workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives. Flexible PTO is really one of the best things you can offer your employees. Apart from parents with erratic schedules, others may have chronic health issues or personal reasons to need time off. It shows that you care about them as people, and according to Glassdoor it will lead to them staying longer.
- Provide subsidized child care or on-site daycare for parents or those with guardianship of children
Parents are often not included in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and we think that needs to change. The best companies for working parents provide subsidized child care, or on-site daycare, which is a great way to take a load off of parents and keep them thriving in your workplace.
- Offer wide ranging healthcare options to cover those with domestic partners or who have the care of elder relatives
Having the option to cover your family with comprehensive health insurance is a great way to be inclusive of your workers, and their families.
- Facilitate employee mentorship programs
As referenced earlier in the Ranstad study, employees who do not feel that they are encouraged to learn and move up in your company will ultimately find somewhere else to work. A great way to foster employee engagement is by implementing mentorship programs. It will promote communication, and a more connected workforce, learn how to implement this here.
- Encourage management to support diversity & inclusion
As mentioned earlier, diversity and inclusion starts from the top down. Doing diversity and inclusion training as an executive team, and understanding how your actions trickle down to the company are imperative.
- Offer flexible PTO
Diversity Committee Ideas: How to Start One
A diversity committee is a group of volunteers in a workplace who are passionate about diversity and want to promote more inclusivity. Rather than having leadership or HR trickle down diversity awareness programs, a designated diversity committee acts as the main organizing body for all initiatives. Members can consist of workers or managers from all departments, increasing perspective and representation.
Here are a few diversity committee ideas to get started:
- Announce a call for volunteers passionate about diversity to join organization-wide
- Define what diversity means in your workplace.
- Establish a mission statement with clear goals for the diversity committee.
- Hold periodic meetings to discuss new initiatives that align with organizational goals and involve business partners, the community, and non-committee members.
- Decide on an implementation process that includes the buy-in of leadership and makes the committee’s presence known to the entire organization.
- Get inspired by the diversity and inclusion activities on this list for your first movement!
- Make your HR team available
Make sure someone is always available to listen to team member problems or ideas for improvement. Your HR department should never be viewed as ‘too busy’ to help and listen.
- Have a firm structure for moving up in the company
A solid structure and knowing how to move up in your company goes a long way to inclusivity.
- Provide career development for employees with varied backgrounds
Career development workshops for women, people of color, and other groups within your company go a long way toward a diverse and inclusive workplace.
- Have regular company meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on happenings, and get a pulse of the company
Secrecy and rapid changes with no information are surefire ways to break a toxic work culture. Avoid this by making sure employees are up to date with happenings, and feel they are an important part of the company.
- Offer flexible parental leave for new parents
Maternity and paternity leave is a great benefit for new parents. This leave should also include those parents who have recently adopted or are fostering children. An additional program to offer is flexible scheduling for parents and non-parents alike to address family matters, as life happens to everyone.
- Create programs and appropriate health coverage for disabled employees, or employees with disabled family members
Offering comprehensive health coverage for employees of differing abilities can go a long way toward workplace diversity.
- Hand out carpooling reimbursements, company shuttles, public transportation reimbursements
Another great perk to offer employees that promotes inclusion is to do public transportation reimbursements, or have a company specific transport like Google does with their buses.
- Allow for telecommuting, flex time, and remote work
Giving employees the freedom to work remotely, have flex time, and permanently telecommute promotes an inclusive and diverse workplace. Read more about it here.
- Make your office a place people want to be
Promote those positive office vibes. Have a meeting room that is a ping pong table, provide nap pods, make a corner of the office devoted to hammocks and bean bags for employee meetings.
- Grief support for employees
Life happens to employees, and unfortunately, loss is a part of this. Make your employees feel supported by offering grief support, and leave, if needed.
- Offer Mental Health resources
Offering mental health resources is a great way to promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Setting aside designated time to get counseling or psychiatric treatment, as well as offering in office therapy and support groups are great places to start.
- Make your HR team available
Now, let’s make your company the next great example of diversity in the workplace!
In conclusion, we can all agree that diversity and inclusion are extremely important measures to implement in your company. With recruiting, retention, and overall workplace happiness benefits, there isn’t any reason not to. Use these ideas and make your company’s future brighter.
(Originally published February 2019. Updated August 2020.)