A Guide to Diversity and Inclusion for Business Owners
The world around us is evolving rapidly before our eyes, and these changes affect our businesses in ways that reach beyond our bottom lines. When we take the time to look at our businesses through the lens of diversity and equity, we may find new opportunities for attracting and retaining talent. Read on to find insights and tips on how to make your company the ideal workplace for everyone. And, as we all know, finding and keeping a strong workforce is one of the biggest challenges we face as contractors.
First, we must understand is what diversity is. At the heart of it, diversity is acceptance and respect. It is the understanding that every person is unique in their own way and individual differences are a part of human nature. In addition, diversity encompasses ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio economic status, age, health abilities, religious beliefs, and other ideologies. These are just a sampling of several differences that have been used within the context of systems and structures to historically marginalize and discriminate against groups of people. It is time to start embracing diversity and listening to ideas from individuals of all different backgrounds.
Now that we understand diversity, it is essential to understand why it is so important. With the ever-increasing urgency for qualified, motivated professionals within the home services space and the lack of technicians, the HVACR industry needs to sew diversity and inclusion into the fabric of their organizations to attract new talent and inspire the next generation of HVACR professionals. There have been a multitude of studies by organizations such as McKinsey and Company that prove a strong relationship between diversity and organizational performance. Such research found that the companies that exemplify diversity within their executive teams end up being more profitable and innovative.
There are also some common myths about diversity that are important to clarify. First of all, some people think that job requirements are being reduced in order to hire diverse talent. This is fundamentally not true. Through diversity and inclusion, we are actually creating efficient job descriptions that will cater to a larger pool of applicants. It does not lower the expectations of the applicant, but rather reduce the barriers that applicants may face. Another myth is that women get hired simply because of their gender. In reality, organizations are hiring the most qualified person for the job and oftentimes that is a woman. Hiring unqualified people affects the whole organization, so it is best for companies to hire the most qualified person to have an effective team. The last myth we are going to talk about is the myth that white men will be excluded if diversity practices are implemented. In reality, diversity and inclusion practices aim to include all races and genders and not exclude anyone. Diversity practices are about finding high level talent people who are actually best for the job by breaking down barriers to ensure no one is excluded and everyone has the opportunity to be considered for a position.
There are several ways to implement diversity and inclusion practices when hiring and recruiting people. A big way is through language. Instead of using gendered language like he or she, you can use the pronouns “they” or “them.” It is important to be aware of age-related language as well. Instead of using words like “youthful,” “mature,” and, “supplement your retirement income,” you could use “Focused and determined,” “displays maturity,” and “part time positions available.”
Another way to implement diversity is to be aware of how others perceive your inclusive leadership style. For example. taking time to listen and hear out opinions can be a good way to do this. Also, being visible and vocal about diversity is a good way to hold your organization accountable and ensure that it is respected and followed in your organization. You can do this by inviting differences into the realm of talking because listening to people with different backgrounds or opinions fosters a healthy and effective work system. However, it is important to not force people to speak on issues. If they feel so inclined to speak on certain issues, then it would be a good idea to hear them out. Lastly, reflection on your own impact is important. Are you being effective in your diversity leadership? Are your employees really listening and understanding your message? A prime skill is being able to gauge these things.
ACCA has a variety of resources to help with implementing diversity and inclusion. There are several blogs that detail how to create job postings that are sensitive to diversity and inclusion, tips that help to hire and retain a diverse team, a guide for business owners and more. President Biden also recently signed an executive order with the aim of, “strengthening the federal workforce by promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” which further reinforces the relevance of creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.
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