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Werk Perk: Diversity in the Workplace

Kimber CasteelKimber Casteel is back and here to answer your questions about diversity in the workplace for our #werkperk series. Kimber is a 29 year old HR Professional and small business owner. She has worked in Corporate Human Resources for over 10 years now, and even dabbled as an Economics major in college, but eventually ended up right where she belonged! She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Human Resource Management, with a focus on Diversity in the Workplace, from Rutgers University. Her small business, KimArt Designs, specializes in custom and personalized hand embroidery. She enjoys working in a corporate environment and has developed strong partnerships with so many people globally. She finds her work very rewarding and she is always eager to help anyone that needs assistance in understanding HR topics!

Why does diversity in the workplace matter, and what can I do to support black SHEs in my workplace?

Diversity in the workplace is arguably the most important aspect of a business, aside from having a solid infrastructure and a product or service to monetize for profit. Diversity is not necessarily something you can precisely measure, although many companies try, via surveying and self-identification within HR systems. Sure, someone can identify as Asian, African American, Hispanic, or White on a piece of paper or online – but true diversity means so much more.

When we think of diversity in the workplace, we often think immediately of seeing individuals with varying skin tones at work. Diversity is so much more than someone’s outward appearance Diversity is so much more than someone’s outward appearance, and this is why it is so hard to get a grasp on diversity, how to attain it, and how to best leverage it within a company. Having a diverse workforce is important because it enables a company to encompass the talents of contributors with so many different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. In turn, through having a diverse and engaged group of leaders and employees, you have people that are making decisions, products, and services that appeal to a wide customer base.

Every company should have plans and policies surrounding diversity. The struggle with attaining diversity is that the everyday tasks that go into running a business are always the first and foremost concern, leaving those “invisible” tasks and responsibilities on the back-burner. Putting together a plan for diversity is one thing, but actually executing it is a whole other ball game. If it were easy, every single business would have this wonderfully diverse workforce! The implementation of diversity practices is where many businesses fail.

Having a company that is diverse and inclusive is heavily reliant on the employees, not management. Sure, management can create the “vision” for their company’s diversity, but it is the actual employees whom are responsible for seeing this vision through. In order to support women of color in your workplace, the most basic way you can contribute is to complete employee engagement surveys. In order to support women of color in your workplace, the most basic way you can contribute is to complete employee engagement surveys. You know those emails you constantly put in your trash bin, because you are so busy with your day to day work? Those are important. Companies, especially larger ones, rely on this form of anonymous surveying to better understand how their employees really feel. It is very important that as many employees as possible complete these surveys, and often times there will be incentives for completing them to increase % completion. You should really complete them, even with no promise of a perk, because they are deliberately designed to ask specific questions for a good reason! It’s important to complete these and be honest about how you feel, so that your company can aggregate this information and adjust and implement changes accordingly.

Another way to be a champion for diversity in the workplace is to go out of your way to learn about the backgrounds of your coworkers. Diversity only makes a difference if you are connecting with others at their level, taking what you can learn from someone else and using their input to help shape the way you approach tasks within your business. It is important that you support your coworkers at work by listening to their ideas and concerns, opening your mind support your coworkers at work by listening to their ideas and concerns, opening your mind to a viewpoint that may be different from your own, and supporting their opinions. Having an open mind and being able to see something from someone else’s point of view will broaden your own mind and allow you to become a better champion for diversity.

As I mentioned earlier, diversity is more than just the color of someone’s skin – a diverse workforce includes people of different socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, education levels, and much more. It is important to treat others the way you would want to be treated and to make people feel welcome. Yes, this is a lesson we are taught as children, and it is an important reminder as adults, as well. Patience, communication, tolerance, and time are all important factors that support diversity. Women of color are significantly underrepresented and discriminated against, often times leaving them feeling frustrated and overlooked. Women of color are significantly underrepresented and discriminated against, often times leaving them feeling frustrated and overlooked. By recognizing the roadblocks they often face in the workplace, you can be more cognizant and aware and take steps to actively make a difference.

I believe that if every woman (and man) took a moment to think about how they could be inclusive of women of color at work, it would make a profound difference in workplace productivity and success! When you have the input of people that can speak on behalf of so many different individual needs and concerns, you are better able to create a product or service that will benefit more people, and ultimately benefit your business. I hope that you found this thought provoking and that you can find a way to make sure you are supporting women of color in your workplace!

 

Do you have a suggestion for a potential #werkperk topic? Email us at info@youngbosshe.org.

ICYMI: Season 2/Episode 2 of #SHEspeaks has DROPPED! Check out what Brynn Plummer has to say about diversity and inclusion. 

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