As we wind down the month of August, we also close out Diversity and Inclusion month. I’ve given this diversity issue a lot of thought, and ask… Just how diverse is diversity?
Gender equality – check!
Sexual orientation equality – check!
Racial equality – check!
Age equality – check!
Returning citizen…low education…zip code bias…hmmm…no checks there.
Diversity and inclusion means respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. While companies seek to create an equal workplace, there are still stereotypes that hold true. There are unspoken biases toward those in certain zip codes. Those whose image isn't traditionally professional. Those who may have danced with the law. Yet, all "those" people need to work.
According to Glenn Lopis diversity and inclusion fail for a number of reasons. In his article 5 Reasons Diversity Fails he asks, how can we acquire, train, and change diverse employees for them to succeed and thrive in our culture? If that is the question for the educated diverse job seeker then the under-educated, low income job seeker doesn’t stand a chance! What Lopis doesn’t mention is that diversity and inclusion fails to address the entry level areas of employment. And he is not alone. Many companies think diversity and inclusion are for those who are educated and have the work experience, but are racially diverse, have different religious beliefs or different sexual orientation. What about socioeconomic diversity? Socioeconomic diversity is based on a worker's education and his financial status.
True diversity and inclusion means hiring from every community. Those who have limited education, but need a chance. Those who have overcome challenges from making unlawful decisions. Those who have barriers to employment, but have an ardent desire to move forward. A company that believes in true diversity and inclusion promotes all levels of hiring from the community.
As we close out this Diversity and Inclusion month think about partnering with your local workforce development agency to hire from the sidelines. Give a chance to someone who might not fit every standard of the job description, but has the will to learn. You will find your best employee may come from the most unlikely place.