There is not a single business that can succeed today without a diverse workforce. But what does diversity actually mean? A truly diverse company has people of different races, ethnicities, genders, age, religion, sexual orientation, perspectives, backgrounds and more working together. This kind of professional atmosphere has far-reaching benefits. In a study by the US Department of Commerce, when diversity is acknowledged and valued, it enhances productivity and organizational effectiveness. When it comes to diversity, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is an industry leader. And it starts at the very top. BCBSM’s CEO Dan Loepp says that valuing diversity is imperative in attracting, hiring and retaining the best talent available. It is also essential to maintaining strong ties with current customers and connecting with new ones. So what makes a successful diversity program? Let’s take a look at some of the initiatives that should be included.
- Educate the staff: Management should run diversity training sessions aimed at educating all employees about the benefits of having a diverse organization.
- Explore deeper issues: In addition to training sessions, there should be a series of panel discussions on specific diversity issues that employees bring up. The topics of these discussions can be about any concerns an employee has (or about satisfaction someone has with the efforts being made on behalf of diversity). These discussions should to be organized with a facilitator to keep them supportive and productive.
- Have the right policies in place: There should be company-wide rules enforcing fairness and equality for all employees. Not only does this make it clear that all employees must be treated with respect, but it also shows that the organization is serious about promoting a healthy work environment.
- Celebrate differences: Having cultural appreciation days or heritage month celebrations is a fun way to embrace the backgrounds of different employees.
- Have an employee mentoring program: Pairing junior employees with high-ranking members of the organization benefits both parties. Not only does this foster new relationships, but both will come away with a better understanding of issues facing different members of the staff. The mentee will receive career guidance while the mentor will gain appreciation of what it’s like to be a rising employee.
Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan