5 Ways to Prioritize Diversity & Inclusion at Work

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A manager’s role is to build a high-performing team, which by definition is a diverse team. For a host of reasons, many highly qualified people–including people from certain cultures, ethnicity, countries, women, introverts–don’t actively put themselves forward for assignments or recognition.

It is the manager’s job to be aware of the skills and potential of every person on their team and to actively encourage individuals to step forward and step out.

Here are five tips to consider for your own workplace:

1. Maximize job candidates.

Does your recruiting process rely on the hiring manager’s networks to source candidates? Do the job descriptions contain a laundry list of qualifications that hardly anyone ever meets? Do current employees need to take the initiative to apply for the role? These three practices make it harder to have gender-balanced teams.

Since most managers are men and men network mostly with other men, when they ask their male colleagues for referrals, they are most commonly referred to male candidates. Moreover, women typically don’t apply for jobs unless they meet at least 80 percent of the job qualifications. But men apply if they meet only 50 percent or 60 percent of them. If job descriptions contain rarely-met requirements, women will likely not apply for them and men will. – Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

2. Pause and reflect on language you use, and what you hear at the office.

Without realizing it, you might be using language to describe women’s actions in ways that you would not use to describe men who did the same things. For example: labeling a woman as too nice to be able to do a job, bossy, a drama queen, too aggressive, needy, high-strung, and so on.

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Observations of venture capitalists in the longitudinal study, Gender Stereotypes and Venture Support Decisions: How Governmental Venture Capitalists Socially Construct Entrepreneurs, show just how differently men and women are sometimes viewed. Male entrepreneurs were described as “young and promising” whereas women were thought of as “young and inexperienced”; men were described as “experienced and knowledgeable,” but women as “experienced but worried”; men were described as “cautious, sensible, and level-headed,” while women were “too cautious and unsure.” – Chief Executive

3. Be a conscious advocate for other’s accomplishments.

  • Regularly communicate female colleague’s contributions, leadership and results to your colleagues, clients and senior leaders.
  • Share articles or insights from your female colleagues online and through social media. Include praise or support for their ideas.
  • Encourage women you know and work with to accept credit for their accomplishments. For example, when you compliment a woman for her results, don’t accept her saying, “It was nothing.”  – Leader2Leader
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4. Broaden your network.

Evaluate who you interact with. Do you limit your participation in events, conferences, and professional gatherings to people like you? Who do you follow and engage with on social media? Who do you talk to about business ideas and issues?

Identify and attend specific events that will expose you to different types of people. Set a goal to reach out, connect and talk to people whose gender, age, background, experience, race, etc. is different from your own.  Ask people who are different from you where they network and ask them if they would introduce you to talented people they know. – Young Upstarts 

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5. Make it an organizational priority.

Companies have not fully enlisted, equipped or engaged managers and leaders at all levels of their organizations and held them accountable to advance high-potential women. With few exceptions, getting more women in leadership roles and having diverse leadership teams are simply not a priority or goal of individual managers and leaders.

A diverse team is a competitive advantage. Just as you set product, service, revenue, growth goals, if you make a diversity one of your business goals, you”ll reap the rewards of success. – Skip Prichard

Diversity & Inclusion at Work

Research, data and findings irrefutably show that diverse teams are better at solving problems, more broadly understanding customer needs, making decisions and that diverse leadership teams are more profitable.

Prioritizing diversity and inclusion at work not only good for your career, it’s good for others, and it’s good for the bottom line.


Want more around recruiting, advancing and retaining high-potential women? Check out WE: Men, Women and the Decisive Formula for Winning at Work  for more tips, examples, and actionable insights.

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