How to Create an Inclusive, Multicultural Workplace

diverse colleagues seated around a table

The unrest of late summer gave way to the long-overdue recognition of the importance of equity in all aspects of life — and that includes the hiring process across industries. What are some ways companies can ensure that they interview and hire employees in a way that creates an inclusive, multicultural workplace?

Look inward and start with your own biases.

That’s the advice from Mory Fontanez, the CEO and founder of 822 Group, a consultancy designed to help companies reestablish their values and create meaningful change within business operations, culture and consumer relationships.

“As an employer — whether you’re leading the recruiting effort for your company or are the CEO — it’s incredibly important to break up whatever internal obstacles you have to working with people who are different than you,” says, Fontanez, who also stresses the importance of tackling existing team members’ biases, too. “Anyone that would be interviewing or working with a new candidate should make sure they are checking their own divisive beliefs at the door.

“Don’t let the shame of these biases stand in your way of addressing them head on,” Fontanez adds. “Everyone has them, and if we’re more real with ourselves about them, we can make a much bigger change. This is where unconscious bias training can be really effective.”

Beyond examining existing biases, there are several steps hiring teams can take to create inclusive, multicultural companies.

Diversify where you recruit and post job opportunities. “Do you keep tapping the same talent pool? It’s important to build partnerships with colleges and organizations that can introduce you to an entirely new set of talent so that you don’t keep going back to the same group,” Fontanez says. “You won’t achieve diversity that way.”

Do you rely on your company’s LinkedIn page and website to recruit new hires? If so, consider alternatives, says executive coach Lauren Cohen, founder of Positive Coaching Now. “Posting a job on your own company’s LinkedIn page or website typically is not a way to bring in a diverse applicant pool,” Cohen notes. “Yes, still post on LinkedIn, Google, Indeed and more but add in alumni networks, incubators and job boards that are industry specific, and get creative with ways to cast the net widely.”

Siva Mahesh, CEO at Dreamshala, a personal finance blog for entrepreneurs, suggests tapping sources that allow you to post in underrepresented groups. “The LinkedIn algorithm might lead you to a less diverse pool of ‘suggested’ applicants … meanwhile, by intentionally contacting a source like the Professional Diversity Network, more people will see the job post,” Mahesh says.

Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Crosschq, a recruitment platform that helps remove unconscious bias in hiring, says there are jobs boards and communities that cater to minority professionals.

“Partnerships can be made with universities that have diverse student bodies and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) says Fitzsimmons, who also suggests working with members of existing internal minority Employee Resource Groups, who “will have more insight into how to find diverse candidates and may be a good option when looking for internal referrals.”

Watch the wording. According to Mahesh, many companies include gendered wording in their job descriptions without realizing it. “Words like ‘ninja’ and ‘superhero; are oriented toward men,” she says. “Companies should instead keep the language and messaging simple and straightforward.”

Implement blind recruitment. Cohen says hiding names and hobbies, reformatting resumes to look the same when applications come in, and “gathering a generous pool of applicants” can help create a more inclusive workplace. “Also avoid social media stalking, which can greatly influence and bias an employer,” she adds.

Revise employee training programs. “Commit to and invest in training employees about an inclusive workplace and share that this is a practice when hiring and interviewing employees,” Cohen says. “New hires and interview candidates will be attracted to a company promoting an inclusive multicultural workplace.”

Be transparent.Fitzsimmons says it is important highlight any existing initiatives already in place that are designed to foster an inclusive environment. “Companies have to make their organizations attractive to people of color and other underrepresented groups,” he says. “If you feature your leadership team on the about us page, and there are few or no minorities, what is that saying to prospective employees? The stats may not be great to start, but unless a company is willing to look inward and be candid outwardly on the subject, people of color will be skeptical, as they should be.”

Create an inclusive environment.Once the hiring is done, the job of building an inclusive, multicultural workplace isn’t done. “Look at decision-making inside your organization and identify ways that you can include more diverse voices into that process,” Fontanez concludes. “Do the work to ensure that when diverse talent lands at your doorstep, you’ve built an environment where they feel a part of the team and know their role in helping to achieve your mission.”

(Article written by Kathleen Furore)