THE BLOG

Promoting Minority Advancement: Creating Effective Workplace Environments

02/20/2013 05:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

In January, I wrote about the importance of sponsorship for business leaders who are serious about expanding Latino leadership in the global workforce. In addition to increasing the number of Latino sponsors we have in the corporate world, senior managers can use their influence and authority to impact diversity initiatives on a much broader scale in other ways. One way is through direct involvement helping drive the creation of effective Diversity and Inclusion practices in your industry.

Does diversity and inclusion really matter in the business world? Actually, it matters a great deal. Diversity and Inclusion are not just 'warm and fuzzy' feel-good ideas. With the growing minority demographics inside the U.S. and the influence of global markets in all sectors, diversity and inclusion, when practiced correctly, is a business imperative that can reap significant revenues for a company in terms of new business development, employee retention and increases in market share.

What does an effective environment that promotes and allows for the advancement of minorities in the workplace look like? Creating the right environment to foster minority advancement incorporates the following four focus areas:

  1. Top Down Approach:A workplace environment that supports the promotion of minorities into leadership roles has the commitment and involvement of the company's executive leadership.
  2. Return on Investment:Diversity and Inclusion efforts must increase the company's revenue streams or bottom line. If they are loss leaders or revenue neutral, there is a high likelihood these programs will be cut.
  3. Training of Leadership to be Inclusive: Diversity and Inclusion is not "natural." It is a mindset and a way of thinking in addition to being a business practice. Cultural awareness and soft skills training at all levels can help the decision makers and leaders become more embracing of diversity.
  4. Prepare Professionals for Advancement: Technical skill proficiency in the workplace is important but educating employees on how to navigate the corporate culture within the firm is equally important. Establishing mentorship and sponsorship relationships as well as appropriate cultural awareness and soft skill training are also essential tools for younger professionals to have access to.

Most firms have deliberate strategies designed to meet a few of these focus areas. The ideal workplace environment incorporates all four. Over the next few weeks in my blog, I will be exploring a 'deeper dive' into the subject of promoting minority advancement in the workplace. I invite you to join me as we look at what is working for the companies right now; opportunities for improvement, and how each of us who works in these companies can be a part of the solution. The subsequent installments will address the following questions:

  • How can you measure the success of a company's Diversity and Inclusion practices and effectiveness of the workplace environment in terms of promoting minority advancement?
  • How can employees influence a company's leadership to improve their Diversity and Inclusion practices?
  • What do Diversity and Inclusion initiatives look like in minority-owned firms?