Diversity is one of those ideas that meant well when created, but now is a “lost term” of sorts. Whenever a diversity article or conversation begins, I always wonder the same thing: "What is your definition of diversity?“ If someone’s definition of workforce diversity is creating hiring practices that look to increase employee numbers of a certain race or gender at the determinant of another race or gender, I immediately understand that person’s issue. They are perceiving diversity as discrimination.
And that is understandable.
The fact is, some companies do practice discrimination to solve diversity issues, and this is a mistake. It’s not a good feeling when you think someone undeserving received a promotion or job, and even worst when you think you received a promotion or job based on your race or gender. But, let’s not blame the principles of diversity for companies awkward solutions.
The purpose of diversity is simple: To allow all groups of people an opportunity to work and succeed within a corporation. To do this companies must reach out to organizations, colleges, and networks to ensure a level playing field. For example, there are thousands of military veterans that consistently cannot find work in fields they are qualified for. To connect with these individuals, companies need to reach out to veteran networks and organizations.
Diversity is about granting opportunities to all groups. Sometimes this means going outside of normal recruiting procedures to do it. A couple of conferences and school visits isn’t enough either. It takes a dedicated process to connect with diverse people’s and much of it can be done for free and online.