Thursday, May 21, 2009

Involving Employees in Diversity Initiatives

Employers are slowly coming to seeing the advantages of creating a diverse workforce and fostering an organizational culture which accepts and supports individuals from diverse backgrounds. Diversity makes good business sense for a lot of reasons including reducing turnover/absenteeism, fostering creativity/innovation, and improving marketplace understanding (Robinson and Dechant (1997) as cited in HRM Business Case for Diversity Management - It can also foster employee engagement by creating a safe and accepting workplace.

But what about actually involving employees in creating and organizing workplace diversity initiatives? What about creating “diversity champions” or “diversity committees” to spear head such initiatives? These are individuals or groups of individuals who are the “go to” people for anything related to diversity. They can be just regular employees, not experts, who have a passion for diversity and know where to look or who to consult with to get the answers you need.

Begin a “diversity champion” or on a “diversity committee” offers employees a chance to get involved by shaping organizational culture and improving diversity within the organization. It also provides the opportunity for employees to get involved in something they really care about. Perhaps they’ve been itching to help orientate newcomers into the working environment but never had the opportunity or perhaps they are a newcomer themselves and empathize with the challenges newcomers can face drawing on their own personal experiences. Whatever the case may be, getting involved in diversity initiatives is a great employee engagement strategy.

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