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53957052 - people meeting social communication connection teamwork conceptDiversity should be more than a buzzword at your organization. Not only is it the right thing to do, fostering a culture of diversity can do wonders for your bottom line. Why? When people feel at ease and can express themselves in an authentic way, they are more likely to perform better, which increases engagement and benefits the organization as a whole. If your organization doesn’t have a diversity initiative, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Here are three actionable steps you can take to achieve this end:

1. Start from the top
Executive leadership sets the tone. To that end, senior leaders need to have a desire to build a diverse culture and hire people who are open to working with people of all different nationalities, skin colors, genders, sexual orientations, etc. If diversity is not a company goal, it just won’t happen. People tend to hire those who look like them, resulting in a homogeneous workforce. Without policies and tactics in place, your workforce will look the same and you’ll miss out on other potentially beneficial viewpoints.

2. Provide safe spaces for employees
Something as simple as making bathrooms available for transgender and gender non-conforming employees can go along way in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Unisex bathrooms are one way to address this. On a broader level, there’s a lot you can do in the way of encouraging employees to interact with each other beyond their normal course of activity. For example, lunch and learns, after hours mixers and company picnics are great ways to get people talking. When people get to know each other, they can better understand differences.

3. Listen up
Solicit feedback from employees. Your staff are the ones in the trenches. Often they are the ones who have the big ideas regarding how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace that management might otherwise overlook.

Diversity in the workplace is not a destination; it’s a process. Are you willing to put in the work?