Stay Competitive by Embracing Employee Diversity

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It has been projected that somewhere between the years 2045-2050, the USA will no longer have a majority race. This demographic shift is due to several factors, including birth rates by race, the increase in multi-racial people, immigration patterns, etc. In addition, the expectations and attitudes of consumers and employees continue to evolve. Why-Diversity-Important-Business and consider the following factors to remain competitive and relevant in today’s marketplace. 

Employers nationwide are being challenged to understand and embrace a new approach to navigating this area of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Building Belonging. Each is related but has a different focus.  

Normally, diversity is seen as a race issue, but it’s more complex than that. Diversity has to do with how each person is viewed or sees themselves, with their unique qualities. These qualities could include gender, ability/disability, religion, Veterans status, sexual orientation, national origin, languages, socio-economic factors, education level, political affiliation, etc.  

Equity is also something commonly confused with equality. Equality is treating everyone the same. Equity concerns fairness, which levels the playing field to address advantages. Equity recognizes that equal circumstances do not produce the same results. One person may need more training in one area than the other person or different equipment to perform the same job, especially in the case of a disability.  

Inclusion, or the process of being inclusive, involves respecting and appreciating everyone, even those different from the majority or someone who would typically belong to this group. It provides access to opportunities and resources.  

Building belonging takes inclusion to another level by creating a welcoming space where everyone feels included and accepted without hiding who they are for fear of lost opportunities. For instance, if a company allows women to wear hijabs to work, that may be an inclusive act. However, when the fear of wearing the hijab to work no longer exists, that results in belonging. One of the largest growing trends is an evolving approach to addressing gender. Many people identify as non-binary and do not want to be labeled as he/him or she/her and prefer other pronouns like they/them.

Home furnishings businesses that are effective with building belonging create a fair playing field for everyone to compete. When employees feel accepted, it creates higher engagement and more opportunities for the diverse population you serve as a retailer or employer of choice. Companies with high levels of engagement produce more favorable results. When employees are engaged, there is more productivity, lower absenteeism rates, less shrinkage, fewer workers’ comp claims, fewer complaints, and numerous other benefits. 

Many companies are hesitant to embrace diversity initiatives because they need to figure out where to start, or they are reluctant because they want to do the right thing. The correct approach would be to decide what you want to do and start there. Suppose you want to say and have people believe that there is room for everyone at the table for those who deserve an opportunity. In that case, you must take a realistic look at your practices to see what you can do to improve.  

Bring a consultant to help you identify your priorities and create a sustainable rollout plan. For those with fewer resources, start by looking at your advertisements and employee demographic information at each level. For instance, if you have 50% women in the organization, but only 25% women in leadership positions, you might need to create an intervention program for impacted groups.  

One of the most important exercises you can do is to help your team identify biases. While most people do not want to believe they have biases, everyone has them. Even those who work hard to overcome them. Acknowledging that everyone has a bias is one of the first steps in creating an inclusive, diverse environment that allows everyone to feel welcome in the organization. Then develop a plan to address the deficiencies. As you achieve results, continue to add layers to build belonging. 

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