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Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom line benefits.

But you need to approach the hiring process holistically retaining employees can be more difficult than recruitment. This is especially true for companies in less diverse regions where relocated minority employees may feel disconnected. You may need to take a more active role in helping them adjust to the culture at work as well as in their new communities. First, identify what your needs are. Does your workforce resemble the communities that you operate in? Do they match the demographic that you serve or want to serve? If not, develop a hiring strategy to increase workforce diversity. Talk to local organizations with community connections, including churches, cultural institutions and colleges. They can help you connect with candidates. You can also enlist help from nonprofits like theUrban League, the National Council of La Raza or from websites that offer searchable channels of minority job hunters. But dont limit yourself to local chapters or schools. If you have something to offer out-of-area workers, expand your search to other cities, states or countries. The Internet makes it easy to cast a wide net. Ask employees for referrals, since they will have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work. The relationship can also help new employees adjust to the move. Offer rewards for successful referrals. Develop and implement an equal opportunity employment policy that follows the Federal EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines. The goal is to establish a meritorious hiring practice that is age, race, gender and minority neutral. Create a committee to help implement the policy and come up with new ideas on how to attract more diversity to the company. Amend the company mission statement to reflect this change. Make the job more compelling to job hunters by emphasizing details that will attract a more diverse candidate pool. Be culturally sensitive when describing what makes your company a good place to work. Provide diversity training in your workplace. All employees should understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate and not by quotas. Making the recruiting process more transparent can help ease the minds of skeptical employees. Also be sure managers fully understand the benefits of a diverse workplace. They will be implementing personnel policies so should be fully committed to supporting the practice.

Offer benefits such as onsite daycare, childcare subsidies and flexible schedules, and let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices. If your community doesnt have familiar cultural offerings like ethnic restaurants, specialty markets or international movies, you can work with the local chamber of commerce to campaign for more diversity and fill those needs. Give new hires a reason to stay. Devote an equal amount of time and effort in retaining new employees. Familiarize them with the new job and company culture. The first few weeks can be the most difficult time for any employee. Its important to show they have a future in the company. Clearly communicate opportunities for advancement. Set up mentoring programs to build close working relationships. Finding mentors that share personal interests can foster new friendships. Form affinity groups that empower small groups of employees to brainstorm about improving products or expanding into different markets. Companies get new ideas and employees are reassured their differences are assets. Learn from your mistakes. Have your human resources department create an exit interview assessment to determine why minority employees are leaving the company and what can be done to curb future loses. Be willing to make changes.

Recommendations on Improving Diversity in the Workplace

Creating a more diverse workforce in your small business is important not only for compliance with antidiscrimination laws, but it can also benefit your company from a productivity standpoint. Diversifying your workforce can be tricky, as some employees may not relate well to people from different cultures or backgrounds. Some recommendations can help you not in the recruitment of a more diverse workforce,

Widen Your Recruiting Base

If you restrict your recruiting to your immediate geographic area, you may be missing an opportunity to develop a diverse workforce. Use other recruiting vehicles to expand your base, including online job boards, which anyone with Internet access can view. Also, advertise your openings in publications that appeal to minorities.

Offer Language Training

According to the Workforce Diversity Network website, the Society for Human Resource Management says that providing or paying for training in English as a second language is a way to improve diversity. Having this type of program allows you to recruit from a wider base of candidates, as it removes language barriers as a reason for not considering a qualified applicant.

Create an Evaluation Form

According to the the the Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence program that Northeastern University implemented, developing a standardized form to evaluate candidates helps prevent discriminatory hiring practices. A form allows you to use the same evaluation criteria for all candidates, which reduces the possibility of interjecting personal prejudices.

Make Use of Current Staff

Use existing members of your staff to help recruit employees. For example, if you already have quality employees who are minorities, let them know about job openings to see if they know others who may be qualified or interested. This helps to create a flow of diverse candidates, and can also reduce your recruiting expenses.

Clarify the Benefits

Emphasize to your employees how diversity benefits the company, and how that ultimately benefits each employee. For example, if you hire a Latino sales representative, point out that this can help the company expand into the Latino marketplace, creating growth and more opportunities for everyone at the firm.