HR Support to Ensure Diversity in the Workplace

Editor's Note: Diversity efforts should include action, not just talk.

David B. WeisenfeldOverview: While having a diverse workforce is an admirable goal, an employer's discussion of it should go beyond mere lip service. HR management of diversity should emphasize to senior executives how diversity and inclusion initiatives impact the employer's bottom line.

These initiatives should include strategic recruiting and outreach efforts. Reliance on word-of-mouth to fill job openings may have the effect of excluding minority candidates or qualified individuals with disabilities from the process. As a result, an employer may wish to ask a search firm to provide a diverse set of candidates or select organizations that will make it more likely the employer will attract these types of applicants.

Employers also should note that diversity does not simply include attracting candidates from all sorts of backgrounds, but being able to retain them as well. Toward that end, employers among other things should:

  • Teach managers and supervisors about the benefits of a diverse workforce;
  • Provide mentors;
  • Publicize opportunities for development and training;
  • Include transparency in the promotion and advancement process; and
  • Encourage feedback from all employees at all times on diversity issues.

An employer that is more open and flexible with its recruiting, hiring and retention practices has a greater chance of achieving a diverse workplace.

Trends: One emerging area in diversity involves accommodating working mothers who wish to express breast milk in quiet rooms during the work day.

Another developing area surrounds religious accommodation issues. This may include accommodating an employee's obligation to pray during the workday or other requests. However, the employer is not obligated to provide an accommodation if doing so would disrupt its operations.

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor

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