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Create a diverse, inclusive culture in your new business

| Sep 8, 2019 | Business Formation & Planning |

If you’re starting a business in South Florida, you have the advantage of being in a part of the state with access to an extremely diverse potential workforce. People of many races, ethnic backgrounds, religions and sexual orientations live and work here.

However, it’s not enough to hire a diverse group of employees. They need to feel included in and appreciated by your company. Laws and attitudes have changed significantly in recent years. Unfortunately, however, people still have their biases — whether they realize it or not. When people are in positions of power, those biases can impact how employees are treated and whether they’re given an equal opportunity to advance.

Deloitte’s 2019 State of Inclusion Study, which surveyed 3,000 people working for companies with at least 1,000 employees, almost two-thirds (63%) said they saw bias frequently at work. Meanwhile, 61% reported that they experience it personally at least one time every month. Even more (68%) said that bias impacted their performance.

New business owners should pay attention to that last number. Certainly you don’t want to be accused of discrimination in hiring, promotion or termination. However, less obvious discrimination can affect how your employees feel about you, their colleagues and the company.

By working to create an inclusive culture as you get your business off the ground, you can minimize these biases and even perceptions of bias. Workplace diversity experts recommend steps that all employers can take.

Providing training to help your managers develop and implement inclusive policies and processes is essential. However, training has to extend to all employees so that they can understand the importance of an inclusive, diverse work culture.

Meetings are an area where employees may often feel marginalized and excluded. Those in the company who lead meetings should make efforts to include those who don’t readily participate. Leaders should also ensure that those who are more confident and outspoken aren’t interrupting and speaking over others. It’s also important to watch how you and others react to employees’ ideas. Everyone should feel free to share without being ridiculed or ignored.

Florida, like all states, has a number of protected classes. However, potential hires in non-protected classes, e.g., those who are gay and transgender, can have skills and talents that are invaluable to your company. They can also help you create a workplace that better reflects the demographics of your community and customer base.

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