How to encourage diversity in the workplace.

Perks and Benefits That Foster Workplace Diversity

Posted September 14, 2016 by Jamie Nichol in Managing Your Team
Cultural diversity in the workplace is a bastion for creativity. Our friends at CultureIQ outline steps to create and maintain that environment.

Companies with a highly diverse workforce experience endless benefits, including everything from increased creativity and innovation to higher earnings and returns on equity.

Luckily, more and more companies are catching on and taking important steps to foster diversity in the workplace. Still, there is a long way to go, and creating a culture of diversity requires ongoing, proactive efforts by leaders.

One way you can approach this effort is by offering perks and benefits that help you attract and retain individuals of different demographic backgrounds. Here are five perks and/or benefits you can provide to help your company build and maintain cultural diversity in the workplace.

1. Flexible Work Options

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Offering flexible work options, such as flextime or remote working, provides opportunity to those with circumstances that make it challenging or impossible to work in a traditional setting, such as caring for a child or a sick parent.

For flexible work options to be effective, employees must feel comfortable and effective using the policies. Make sure managers lead by example and that your company offers resources to stay connected with remote employees.

Related article: 5 Ways to Create a Family-Friendly Workplace

2. Mentorship and/or Sponsorship Program

A culture of diversity isn’t just about recruiting people of different backgrounds, it’s also about setting them up for success in their roles and careers. One way to do this is to create a mentorship program to connect employees of underrepresented groups with each other.

Or, take it a step further and offer a formal sponsorship program, which is similar to a mentorship program but with more accountability involved. These relationships help minority employees feel comfortable in the workplace, navigate unique challenges, and get in front of opportunities that advance their career. Companies such as Intel and American Express have seen success with formal sponsorship programs.

3. Partner with External Networks

Mentorship and sponsorship programs are great ways to leverage your existing company network, but you might need to go further than that. You can partner with external organizations that connect employees of underrepresented populations with resources, education, and support. One such network is the Ellevate Network, which helps advance women in business.

4. Provide Optional Diversity Training

Providing diversity training seems like an obvious step to take, but you might want to think twice about making it mandatory. According to some recent research by Harvard and Tel Aviv University sociologists, mandatory diversity training was actually counterproductive in fostering a diverse workplace. The same research found voluntary programs to be the most effective, because attendees feel engaged rather than coerced.

5. Relocation Package

By offering a relocation package, you’re no longer restricted to hiring people who are in your backyard. This diversifies and expands your potential talent pool immensely. Another option is to offer commuter benefits, so that employees are willing to commute longer distances to come into the office, making your company more attractive to people of different life stages.

Fostering workplace diversity requires much more than providing a couple of perks. However, these benefits and programs show employees that your company is prioritizing the topic and proactively working to move the needle forward.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.