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Meet SHRA's Diversity & Inclusion Award Winners for 2019

Congratulations to one of our 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Award winners, Cymone Harlow (right) of Pierce Manufacturing.

SHRM How-to Guide on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives 

Diversity in Today's Workplace

Workplace diversity can be thought of 'the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors. (source SHRM)

But there's more to workplace diversity than meets the eye. Diversity traits can be thought of as visible or invisible, and can be graphically represented as shown below: (source SHRM)




Workplace diversity is about appreciating differences and adapting work practices to create an inclusive environment in which diverse skills, perspectives and backgrounds are valued.


Developing a Diversity Program at your Organization

Below are some resources to assist you in developing a diversity program at your organization by reviewing why diversity is important, links to guides that will help you begin the research, and a template to help you compare your recruitment area by race and gender, per census area. Additionally, we have provided resources linking to heritage guides, a multicultural calendar and monthly diversity celebration topic areas. We hope you find this toolkit helpful and look forward to hearing your feedback by emailing to

Why is Diversity Important?

Workplace diversity is about appreciating differences and adapting work practices to create an inclusive environment in which diverse skills, perspectives and backgrounds are valued.

By bringing together our different backgrounds, skills, and experiences, businesses are better able to mold the type of innovative and creative solutions needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy.

Resource Links:

· Guide to Developing a Diversity Program at your Organization

· Compare your organization by your recruitment area and by race/gender per census data 

Additional Diversity Resources:

Links to Celebrating Diversity Each Month of the Year:

Heritage Month Guide:

Multicultural Calendar:

Diversity Versus Inclusion

It’s not enough to hire a bunch of employees who are different from one another; as humans, we need to feel included. We want to feel like we’re a part of what’s going on at our organizations, and that our time at work matters. This happens through inclusion. 

And inclusion doesn’t mean involvement: it’s about empowering people. Everyone wants to be excited about their work and feel useful, and that really gets to the heart of inclusion. On the flip side, without inclusion, you see a negative impact on employee engagement and retention.

As diversity and inclusion expert Verna Myers says, “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Employee Relations

When we fail to manage diversity, employee relations issues can arise. Some ways to mitigate these types of issues are:

·         Develop clear anti-discrimination policies and enforce them consistently and fairly.

·         Promptly investigate any complaints by employees

·         Learn the art of de-escalation, especially around issues of diversity

These can be emotional concerns, it can go a long way to make sure your team is trained on how to decrease the intensity of conflict rather than inflame it.

If you have an employee who comes to you with a concern, it’s so important to not brush it off. When the conflict goes unaddressed, the issue magnifies and intensifies. When a complaint comes in, stop and make sure it’s heard and addressed.

Immediate Actions

Here are some things you can do right away to begin turning diversity into an asset for your organization.

·         Examine your workforce: who works at your organization? What types of diversity do you already celebrate? Where is there room for improvement?

·         Assess your Managers’ skill sets: Do they have the capacity to effectively create an inclusive environment? Are they excited about it? Are they allies in this project? If not, is there anything you can do to get them excited about it?

·         Review your comp plan: Is it set up in a way that minimizes or eliminates discrimination concerns?

Diversity and inclusion: 8 best practices for changing your culture


Establish a sense of belonging for everyone

·          Having a connection to an organization or a group of people that makes you feel you can be yourself not only results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace, it’s a psychological need.   

Empathic leadership is key

·         For real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging – both intellectually and emotionally. Only when the entire C-suite steps up to own diversity and inclusion with a company’s D & I practices thrive. It not a single initiative owned by HR.

·         Make sure leaders are equipped to make their stories their own, feel it within themselves and be able to explain why they care; why it matters, and why it should matter to their direct reports.

·         Tune into empathy; each person remembering a time when they were excluded, shamed, interrupted, and so on, so they can apply those lessons outwardly. Leaders have to feel it within themselves; then they can identify the relationship with feeling excluded or making others feel excluded.

A top-down approach isn’t enough

·         Top-down approaches drive compliance, not commitment. From senior leaders to frontline employees, every individual must see and understand their role in company culture. Top down, bottom up, and middle out.

Quotas don’t automate inclusion

·         Hiring goals may bust diversity numbers but won’t automatically create an inclusive culture. The employee experience continues far beyond an offer letter. You must create conditions where every person can contribute in their unique, meaningful way and feel safe and secure doing that and if you find places where that is not the case, having the courage to admit and work to change it. D & I must be in sourcing and recruiting to hiring, onboarding, to daily aspects of work, team-building, culture, from successes and failures, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring – everything!

Inclusion is ongoing

·         It’s not a once a year thing. Like any behavior change, inclusion requires individuals to identify key moments to build new habits and daily behaviors that can be practiced and measured. One was is to identify change cohorts within the organization outside of the executive or management level. They champion the change within their departments, teams and working groups.

Maximize joy and connection, minimize fear

·         People are wired to react with fear and distrust when their beliefs are challenged. While fear can be a powerful motivator, it also encourages people to narrow their perspective – the opposite desired effect for creating a more inclusive work place. Finding ways to frame challenges through a lens of possibility – and elevating the power of shared experiences and storytelling to do so – creates greater potential for positive change.

·         Not only point out were there is room for improvement but spotlight the moments of success and celebrate them. Have every employee write down their personal, individual commitment to diversity and inclusion and put it in a public place so staff can see the signs of their progress.

 Forget ‘fit’ and focus on helping individual thrive

·         ‘Fit’ can be dangerous, because it can exclude. You have to first be able to identify and bring to your organizational value, mission and purpose, and define ‘fit’ so that it adheres to those. You have to define it differently.

Consider your brand

·         In the transformation effort, brand and culture are intimately connected. The products and services you put into the world reflect your values – and your biases.

·         It is important to consider the relationship between what’s happening inside and outside your company. What is your brand saying about who you are as a culture? In what ways is your employee base not congruent with your customer base? What experiences are being left out or misunderstood. the organization.

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