Diversity in the Workplace: Tips for Creating an Inclusive Environment

Summary: Creating a diverse workplace requires a significant effort from everyone in the organization. Here I explore how to impact diversity at work, with examples of successful initiatives.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

Firstly, congrats on being named in the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Diversity and Inclusion 2023 from Thinkers 360.

Similarly, I love your book “UNIQUE: How Story Sparks Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement.” I know it is also an award winner and has helped many of my colleagues find more effective ways to talk about sensitive issues and, equally important, l to listen.

It would be best to tell snippets of your life story to make a difference.

Your focus on telling and listening to life stories has made me more compassionate and less judgemental. It makes for more understanding and opens the way for creative collaboration, a better way of working together.

In short, I need a way to engage my whole company, not just my leadership team. To get on board the diversity train. This train takes off from the “transformation station.”

Most importantly, we all need to get on board.

In addition, our lives and the lives of future generations depend on how we can solve the negativity and fear that is so rampant today.

Thanks for all your hard work and research.


Rainbow Leader

Everyone has a story to tell; only tell what is most important.

Dear Rainbow Leader,

Thanks for your kind words. It is an honor to be on the 2023 Diversity and Inclusion list of Global Thought Leaders from Thinkers 360.

Above all, diversity is a passion for me.

Furthermore, I remember, years ago, seeing an ad on television that stuck with me. It made me both sad and determined.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

In addition, this iconic slogan goes back over four decades. It promoted scholarships for black students. Arthur Fletcher, the former head of the United Negro College Fund, is said to have coined the famous phrase.
Later, it became even more powerful.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste

But a wonderful thing to invest in.”

Consequently, it’s time to have courageous conversations about how we landed where we are today and how to help each other reach our highest potential.

Telling the truth is NOT the same as “spilling your guts.”

You signed your email “Rainbow Leader.”

As an illustration, rainbows have always shown up after the worst storms. Perhaps we can use our stories to show the power of listening.

For example, sometimes in our Total Leadership Connections program, the tears flow like rain when a hesitant human finds the courage to share their story.

And guess what? After the acknowledgment, the tears stop, and it feels like a rainbow shines in the room.

The Dialogue Method gives room to listen and ask questions

You asked for a roadmap; here are the basics for today’s workplace. And, of course, I love to include the possibility of using my book as a foundation for stories about diverse life stories.

  1. Foster a Culture of Inclusion

To promote diversity in the workplace, it is essential to create a culture of inclusion. This means creating an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and heard.

It involves creating policies and practices that promote diversity and prevents discrimination.

One way to foster a culture of inclusion is to establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

To demonstrate, ERGs represent employee-led groups with a specific demographic or interest group—for example, an ERG for women or LGBTQ employees.

These groups provide a forum for employees to connect, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. They also offer a way for employees to influence company policies and practices.

Another way to promote inclusion is to provide training and education on diversity issues. This can include workshops on unconscious bias, cultural competency, and respectful communication. These programs can help employees become more aware of their preferences and more effective at working with people from diverse backgrounds.

Courageous companies have a “warm line” to discuss diversity concerns.

Example: In 2019, Intel launched a “WarmLine” program, which provides employees with a confidential hotline to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion. The program is designed to provide employees with a safe space to discuss concerns or seek advice.

  1. Hire for Diversity

To create a diverse workplace, it is essential to hire for diversity. This means actively seeking out candidates from underrepresented groups and ensuring a fair and inclusive hiring process.

One way to attract a diverse pool of candidates is to advertise job openings in places where underrepresented groups are likely to see them.

For example, job openings on websites or social media catering to specific demographic groups.

A way to ensure a fair hiring process is to use blind resume screening.

This means removing any identifying information, such as name, gender, or ethnicity, from resumes. This can help reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.

For example: In 2014, Intel committed to increasing diversity in its workforce. To achieve this, the company set a goal of having a workforce representative of the available talent pool by 2020.

Therefore, to achieve this, the company implemented various hiring and retention initiatives, including unconscious bias training, a diverse slate policy, and blind resume screening.

  1. Promote Diversity in Leadership

Having a diverse leadership team is critical for creating a diverse workplace. It ensures that diverse perspectives are represented in decision-making and can help create a more inclusive culture.

Promote diversity by establishing diversity goals for senior leadership positions.

This means setting targets for the number of women, people of color, or other underrepresented groups in leadership roles. It also means holding leaders accountable for achieving these goals.

Another way to promote diversity in leadership is to provide leadership development opportunities for underrepresented groups. This can include mentoring programs, training programs, or leadership workshops.

Example: In 2015, Airbnb established a diversity goal of having 11% of its leadership team comprised of people from underrepresented groups by 2020.

The company implemented various initiatives to achieve this goal, including unconscious bias training, diversity recruiting, and leadership development programs.

Creating a diverse workplace requires a concerted effort from everyone in the organization.

By fostering a culture of inclusion, hiring for diversity, and promoting diversity in leadership, organizations can create a more innovative, productive, and welcoming workplace for all employees.

Indeed, here’s an example of a company that turned a potential class action suit into a successful initiative to promote diversity in the workplace:

In 2015, Airbnb faced criticism over reports of racial discrimination. Several users had reported being denied rental properties because of their race. The issue gained national attention, and in 2016, a group of plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Airbnb launched a comprehensive initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in its workforce. The company established a diversity goal of 11% of its leadership team comprised of people from underrepresented groups by 2020. The company implemented various initiatives to achieve this goal. This included unconscious bias training, diversity recruiting, and leadership development programs.

Companies that course correct to include diversity programs win in the long run.

This policy encourages hosts to treat all guests equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Hosts signing up for the policy agree to treat all guests fairly, irrespective of their background. In return, Airbnb offers them better search placement and other perks.

The Open Doors policy has successfully promoted diversity and inclusion on the platform. According to Airbnb, guests who have booked a stay with a host who has signed up for the policy are less likely to report instances of discrimination. Hosts signed up for the procedure have also reported increased bookings and positive reviews.

Airbnb’s response to the potential class-action suit is an excellent example of how a company can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

By committing to promoting diversity and inclusion, the company was able to address the issue of discrimination on its platform while also improving its business performance.

The Open Doors policy is an innovative solution that has not only helped to promote diversity and inclusion but has also improved the user experience on the platform.

Creating a diverse work environment enriches everyone.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Please get the free introduction to my newest book, “Invisible Stress (It’s NOT What YOU Think),” and let me know how my team and I can assist you.

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Sylvia Lafair

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