Three times a year, The Right Place hosts investor only events known as Investor Breakfasts. These events feature an organizational update from The Right Place President and CEO, Birgit Klohs, and a feature presentation on a current West Michigan economic development topic.
The final Investor Breakfast of 2018 featured Chief Diversity Officer at Calvin College, Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige, who spoke to investors on the topic of diversity and inclusion. Her presentation, Creating Effective and Inclusive Talent and Retention Strategies, addressed common struggles and mistakes made by businesses attempting to embrace a more inclusive culture.
She began with some statistics pointing to the benefits of prioritizing a diversified workplace, stating that companies top ranked for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above the national medians for their industries. Companies leading in gender diversity were 15 percent more likely.
When addressing inclusive recruitment strategies, Dr. Loyd-Paige highlighted some of the following points:
More than Money
It’s no longer just about the money. Quality of life, company culture, work-life balance, and creative freedom are just some of the things candidates evaluate when considering a job offer.
Once an employee has finished onboarding, the process is not over. Mentorship is a valuable and vital tool to assist new talent with integrating themselves into the community. Sometimes it’s specific to their job, but it can also be related to life outside of work, like recommendations for salons, grocery stores, and other day-to-day resources they might need in a community they’re unfamiliar with.
Recognizing and Acknowledging Bias
Implicit bias is a prevalent issue in the American workforce. Implicit bias can be described as the unconscious attribution of certain qualities to an individual based on stereotypes believed of their race, gender, or cultural background. Operating under the assumption that someone can be “lumped” into a category of liking or disliking certain things simply because of association can be damaging to a business attempting to develop a more diverse workforce.
Defining Your ‘Why’
The question of why your business would like to become a more diverse entity is an important one. Beginning with senior leadership, your business as a whole should place value on diversity and inclusion. “If it’s simply for the ‘numbers game,’ or a desire to appear more diverse to the community, then it is not for the right reasons,” said Dr. Loyd-Paige.
Some organizations have tried, and failed, in their inclusive recruitment efforts. Dr. Loyd-Paige attributes this to several reasons, including:
- An inability to translate a vision for inclusion throughout the organization – if the only time you talk about an inclusive workforce is within your legal paperwork, it’s not a vision.
- Only addressing diversity, but not inclusion – are your diverse employees being groomed, or even considered, for advancement within the company?
- Low levels of institutional support from senior leadership
- Having a recruitment, but not a retention, plan
- Placing the responsibility of implementing inclusion measures on employees with a diverse background, instead of company leaders with the influence and power to make significant changes happen.
Ultimately, Dr. Loyd-Paige says good intentions are not enough when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and the work does not end within your company, but extends into the community as well. By actively creating a more inclusive community for employees to live and work in, businesses can be proactive about retaining talent that might otherwise choose to leave.
Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige is the executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion and also holds an appointment of professor of sociology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.