Opinion: Why diversity in the workplace needs a strategic plan

It is here. It cannot be overlooked. And those that don’t change will potentially do significant damage to their businesses. Why? When you have the likes of the UK’s biggest fund manager warning the FTSE 100 companies in the UK with all-white boards that it will vote against those that fail to diversify their leadership teams by 2022, that is when you need to take notice.

Legal & General which has £1.2tn in assets, has also written to the bosses of S&P 500 companies in the US, saying it expects their boardrooms to include at least one black, Asian or another minority ethnic (BAME) member by January 2022 as well.

If companies fail to meet that target, Legal & General said it would openly vote against the re-election of their chairman or the head of their nomination committee

Look around your management structure. How is your company diversity planning going? We have seen so many successes from companies bringing in a more diverse management team.

What does it actually mean?

Diversity means accepting, understanding and valuing differences among individuals. Having a diverse workplace gives your business ideas and innovations from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Many large corporations seek out suppliers that are over 50 percent owned and operated by diverse owners. Developing a diversity strategic plan for the workplace helps your company operate in a global marketplace.

Time to set goals?

Setting diversity goals for your business is the first step toward developing a strategic plan. The primary goal is your diversity mission statement, which should clearly communicate your commitment to diversity. A sample statement reads “We strive to respect and embrace individuals from different age groups, classes, ethnicities, genders, abilities, races, sexual orientations and religions.” With a mission statement in place, the next step is to develop smaller objectives to help achieve the mission.

Develop the Plan…

Objectives in the strategic plan should relate to your employees, your customers and your community. An employee-related objective could be to recruit and hire workers from a diverse talent pool. A customer-related objective could be assessing your customers’ demographic information and train your staff to develop communication skills specific to your customers’ needs. A community-related objective could be to contribute volunteer hours and funds to a local non-profit organisation that serves a diverse segment of the population.

Implement your Plan

Launch your diversity strategic plan with an all-employee diversity meeting where you go over the plan with your team and answer their questions. Ask all your employees to commit to work on one area of the plan — employees, customers or community — to help achieve the objectives. Each employee should have a clear vision for his participation in the plan.

Measure Results

Periodically measure your progress against your goals. Ask employees to report on their activities under the diversity strategic plan. Revise your goals if you need to, either to move to the next step if you achieved the goal or to simplify the goal if it was too grand or ambitious to realistically achieve.

About the author: Max MacGillivray founded Redfox in 2002 and is a recognised industry speaker on the Fresh Food, Agri-Business and Social Media sectors.