June 11, 2018
10 Things

10 THINGS I know about… Creating a truly diverse workplace

AiVi Nguyen is a partner at law firm Bowditch & Dewey, chair of its Diversity Committee and vice chair of Worcester's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. Reach her at anguyen@bowditch.com.

10) Understand why it's important. Inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it's a strategic business move. The most successful businesses are the ones with a workforce with different experiences and skillsets.

9) Promote open positions to minority affinity groups. You first need diverse job applicants. Market directly to them.

8) Cultivate local young talent. Worcester kids tend to grow up to be Worcester adults. Get in front of local diverse kids early and support their education and development.

7) Assess applicants holistically. If your job requirements are things white men are more likely to have accomplished, only white men will qualify. Stop factoring in pedigree, because I bet your best employees were not at the top of their class.

6) Critically look at your elevation criteria. If you have a lack of diversity in leadership positions, figure out why. If it is because diverse employees aren't performing as well, consider whether they are given the same opportunities, training or mentorship as their peers.

5) Recognize promoting color-blindness is not promoting inclusion. Color-blindness defaults to looking at everyone as a white man. This is a waste of the different skills diverse employees bring to the table.

4) Don't make your diverse employees tokens. Employees will resent being singled out to act as the company's face of diversity, and clients will see right through it.

3) Have mandatory respectful workplace training. Every few years, you should have a training to remind all employees to not be jerks.

2) Punish the jerks – especially if the jerks are supervisors or rainmakers. Your message that bias and disrespect is not tolerated must be unassailable.

1) Encourage open communications. Talk to your people about any internal issues related to diversity. Loyal employees must feel included.

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