As organizations become more complex, the value of people’s skills, education, background, knowledge, and capacity increases. This means hiring the most suitable and qualified persons for the job – regardless of race, status, religion, or gender. But it also means providing a landing place where this diversity will thrive. Devaluing certain groups is a dangerous slope and can quickly alienate a company. The focus to incorporate diversity into the business has been discussed for decades. So, what is different now?

Not long ago, the push for diversity resonated from a different microphone or reasoning, often causing raised eyebrows and crisis-hiring – both problematic. Today, progressive organizations implement a variety of diversity strategies into their workforce to positively influence all individuals. This just makes good business sense.

Building diversity initiatives into the fabric of the business means developing core values, sound management practices, and a tailored recruiting process. Leadership’s involvement must be considered a strategic, well-planned initiative in order for it to take hold throughout the company. Diversity is not just about race; it is about creating a workplace that values different opinions and methods of working. This includes individuals from all backgrounds and experiences: women, retirees, cultures, statuses, and religions. A diverse workplace addresses issues head-on, defining what will set the company apart and including new visions, insights, and tolerances into decision-making practices. These contributions make for a more equitable and unique platform.

Companies that hurry to hire people from a variety of classes does not truly promote diversity. It simply makes the company look like it has checked the box – which resonates within, harming the reputation. Forward-thinking firms are developing internal diversity initiatives, such as mentoring programs for new hires to learn the ropes and move ahead. Some purchase products or services only from minority resources. Some link executive bonuses to diversity success eliminating glass ceilings. A progressive organization’s board of directors is best created with members who bring different opinions, experiences, backgrounds, education, and history that is different from the person in the next chair. A company which values diversity generates their drive from a broader range of sources – effecting best decisions. Companies that embrace a diversified culture attract individuals who value a more comprehensive organization, which results in an effective and satisfied worker – which improves productivity and revenue.

Creating diversity as a corporate foundation does not happen overnight. It requires a deliberate amount of time by leadership and a philosophy that embodies the way the company wants to present itself to the community. Writing off available talent and believing that the best decisions are only made at the top are defeating and negative practices. True diversity means thinking differently and appreciating the results.

Find out what diversity really means to your organization. Ask employees and managers, and HR, to have a fresh mindset. Extend your hiring network and make a concentrated effort to change those habits that have stood in the way of diversity.
As Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” And remember the Golden Rule while you’re at it, too.