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4 Steps to Building a More Diverse and Inclusive Business

While many organizations value diversity in their workforce, some may lack the internal measures to champion it. Here are four steps to help kick-start diversity and inclusion efforts at businesses of all sizes.

In a recent survey of the JPMorgan Chase Executive Advisory Board, a majority of business leaders agreed that diversity and inclusion is important to their organization, yet less than half said they engage in targeted recruitment of underrepresented talent. Slightly more than half said their companies have formal practices in place to provide equity and support for these employees.   

Clearly, many organizations want to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment—and recognize the advantages of doing so. But how can they put that idea into practice? Here are four steps businesses of all sizes can follow to make diversity and inclusion efforts part of their organizational DNA.

1. Don’t Wait for Diverse Candidates to Apply

Go beyond the equal-opportunity employer statement on your job page and actively seek out underrepresented candidates. Establish relationships with different community leaders, minority-focused organizations and historically black colleges and universities to recruit talent. Turn to current employees with diverse backgrounds to help attract and mentor others—diversity begets diversity.

JPMorgan Chase has adopted this approach with its Advancing Black Leaders strategy, which, among other goals, aims to attract more talent from the black community by tripling the number of scholarships offered to students of color.

2. Increase the Depth of Your Talent Pool

Diversity and inclusion can be realized in many ways, and cognizance of this during the hiring process may help your organization increase the size of its talent pool. For example, JPMorgan Chase’s Autism at Work program focuses on hiring people on the autism spectrum—a traditionally underemployed population—for positions that put their talents to use in an environment designed to meet their needs.

This inclusive mindset can also help improve business outcomes. Six months into the pilot program, employees in the Autism at Work program were 48 percent faster and up to 92 percent more productive than their peers.

A focus on hiring individuals who are neurodiverse and people with disabilities—combined with making the process easier for people with disabilities to request and get accommodations they need—can add valuable diversity to your workforce.

3. Create Space for Engagement

At JPMorgan Chase’s Founders Forum in May, 36 percent of business leaders cited talent recruitment and retention as their biggest challenge.

One way to encourage retention, especially of employees from diverse backgrounds, is to provide networking opportunities that help people feel they belong. One way to accomplish this is using Business Resource Groups (BRGs), also known as affinity groups, which invite people with similar backgrounds or experiences—such as employees who are Asian, LGBT+, caregivers or military veterans—to unite around shared interests and experiences. Furthermore, BRGs are a good way to acknowledge and support employee’s identities in the workplace and can help engage allies across the organization.

4. Provide Career Advancement Opportunities

Attracting, hiring and retaining a variety of talent are all crucial steps in building a more diverse and inclusive business. But an organization’s work isn’t done when these goals are achieved. Advancing talent is an important next step. Leadership circles often lack diversity, with women, especially women of color, occupying just a small fraction of C-suite seats in the 100 biggest US companies. Initiatives such as Women on the Move can help identify the barriers to advancement underrepresented groups face and create meaningful change.

Achieving gender and racial equality in these top-level positions starts with making diversity and inclusion a business priority. By empowering the career growth of women and other underrepresented groups through diversity targets, coaching, leadership training and family-friendly policies, your organization can start building a culture where everyone feels respected and valued.

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