Tips to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team - Priority VA

Tips to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team

Building a diverse and inclusive team is packed with benefits. Diversity invites fresh perspective, improves access to market share and helps leaders make better decisions. Inclusivity is the feeling of belonging that helps team members work together toward a shared goal.

Building a diverse and inclusive team isn’t about checking a box. It is a reflection of your values and is a moral responsibility. 

Many well-intentioned leaders who value diversity and inclusion struggle to attract diverse talent simply because of their hiring process. While we do not consider ourselves diversity/inclusivity subject-matter experts, we are team-building experts. 

Read on to learn our 5 tips to shaping your hiring and team-building process for diversity and inclusion. 

1. Seek teammates who can complement your skill sets and make-up for your weaknesses

We hear it all the time, “I wish I had a mini-me.” No matter how great you are, you are not the solution to all of your problems. Hiring a clone of yourself multiples your problems instead of mitigates them. 

Every hire is an opportunity for diversity to complement your skillset and make-up for your weaknesses. That means being OK with and even intentional about hiring someone unlike yourself. Your right-fit teammate may live in a rural part of the country, or a dense city. 

They may have an educational background that is almost to your standards but not quite. They may be a different gender or of a different ethnic background. These qualities should not define your right-fit hire. 

The standards of your ideal candidate should be defined by their values, passion, sense of purpose, personality and character. Of course proficiency, but we always advocate hiring for character/culture and training for skill if necessary.

2. Get clear on and advertise your values

This point feels so obvious it should go without saying, yet many organizations do not define or advertise their values in job postings or on their website. Many consumers and job seekers want to align with brands that specify what they do and do not stand for, especially as it relates to injustice or discrimination. 

Make it clear in your employee handbook, on your website and in your postings that you value diversity and inclusivity. Just be sure you actually live those values out! 

Defining and documenting your values positions you to hire people who share those values. Building a team with shared values creates an inclusive environment and helps people feel safe and open. 

3. Audit your job applications

The job application is a gatekeeper to your company. You may be ignorantly turning qualified candidates away simply in how you advertise your brand and the available role. 

Look at your latest job opening and the pool of candidates it attracted. Based on what was presented, who submitted an application? 

Consider the language or tone of your writing. Is your application written in an overtly-masculine tone? Does it over-emphasize a certain level of education or formality? What is the effect of that?

The job application is an opportunity to experiment. Write in a tone that reflects the culture of your company. You don’t have to follow a rigid format. Break the rules. Be true to your brand. Our latest job posting was so honest, we were OK with actually repelling people if it meant the wrong-fit candidates would self-select OUT of the process. 

Again, leave nothing to interpretation. Make it clear in the job post that you seek candidates from creative, diverse backgrounds. You could even welcome resumes from people of all backgrounds even if they don’t check every box. Simply require that they make a case for themselves in the cover letter if they don’t align with a requirement.

Growing a diverse network will also help you attract more diverse candidates. As the saying goes — diversity begets diversity. 

4. Foster a sense of belonging

Attracting diverse team members is not the end-goal. Creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive work environment for ALL — regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender — is the work. 

Place new hires with a mentor to help them advance and to help their voice be heard. Offer unconscious bias training. Focus on culture and team-building so people feel a sense of togetherness.

Data shows that highly inclusive companies hit their financial targets by up to 120%. Inclusivity results in empowerment. Team members who are empowered are able to come together to work harder and meet shared goals. 

5. Consult subject-matter experts

Seek out diversity and inclusion subject-matter experts to get help addressing your blindspots and biases. We work with Tameaka, a human resource professional from Employ and Relate. Since working with Tameaka, we’ve been able to grow more diverse applicant pools for clients. 

Our founder also attended a training from Annie Jean-Baptist, the head of product inclusion at Google. Her book, “Building for Everyone” speaks to how business leaders can adapt to the ever-more diverse world by capturing market share and building more inclusive products. 

Hiring for diversity and building an inclusive team is an area of continued growth. Take the steps today to begin revamping your process. 

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