Diversity in the Workplace

There is a growing amount of evidence that diverse teams do better. They perform better financially, attract better talent, experience less employee turnover, and offer greater benefits to those they serve.

Fernie, while rich in history and holding strong to its roots, also experiences great diversity. I often say one of my favorite things about Fernie is the diversity of people you find here. I have met people that have worked all over the world, and have chosen Fernie has their home.

Businesses can take advantage of this diverse population and build better teams. Diverse teams are shown to have better innovation and creativity, easier recruitment and lower turnover, and an increased market share.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review recently summarized five steps any organization can take to build a more diverse team.

  1. Customize your vision and strategy. Ensure that your mission, your vision, your goals include diversity. And, that you have ways to measure your progress towards your goals. Review those measures each quarter.
  2. Focus on impact and measures. Set a baseline. Diversity can be measured a number of ways, gender, ethnicity, age, life experience, education and more. Identify key metrics appropriate for your organization and set timelines to review progress. 
  3. Focus on recruiting and selection practices. Provide training for unbiased interviewing and selection process, and establish strategic partnerships that connect your organization with diverse talent pipelines. Wondering where to start? Try connecting with colleges and universities to talk about the co-operative work programs. Reaching out to them and bringing students in can add to the diversity of your team.
  4. Invest in leadership development to retain high performers. This can be informal mentoring or coaching. Leadership development can be education sessions and professional development courses. A popular meme going around social media has been “CFO asks CEO: ‘What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?’ CEO replies: ‘What happens if we don’t and they stay?’”
  5. Prompt ongoing discussion. The joy of a diverse team is the breadth of discussion topics available. Ensure there is opportunity to engage in open, honest, and multidirectional dialogue at different levels. Ensure that the diversity of experience is appreciated and not feared.

Building a diverse and inclusive team is not easy. It takes planning and work. Based on research, businesses that put in the effort will be rewarded. Many Fernie businesses are small, less than ten employees. Even in a small office, diversity can still be recognized and celebrated. I encourage you to take a moment and look around your own work team. Explore where people are from and what life experiences they have had. Explore how those diverse viewpoints can add to your company’s offerings or services. Your employees will enjoy the acknowledgment of diversity and your customers will appreciate (and return) for the resulting products and services.