Diversity Management: A Guide to Managing Diverse Teams in 2022

The actionable guide aims to boost your strategies for managing diversity
Content Marketer
October 20, 2021
Updated: February 25, 2022
Content Marketer
October 20, 2021
Updated: February 25, 2022

Diversity management and a diverse management team ⁠are not the same thing. The latter is a leadership team made up of diverse individuals leading an organization, whereas diversity management, or managing diversity, is the act of building and managing a diverse team.  

When it comes down to it, implementing a game plan for managing diversity is largely up to management. In fact, 45 percent of employees believe managers who are hiring and mentoring new employees have the most leverage to boost diversity. In addition to managers, the CEO and HR department are additional key players in their ability to impact diversity at a company.

Unfortunately, roughly half of all managers claim they are too busy to spend time and energy on diversity initiatives — and this could potentially cost the company revenue. 

Studies have found companies with more diverse management teams tend to yield nearly 20 percent higher revenue than companies that do not. 

Managing Diversity Definition:

Leadership’s deliberate effort to plan and implement changes to an organization’s systems and practices of managing people, so potential benefits from diversity are fully realized and potential disadvantages minimized.

Dawn Kawamoto contributed reporting to this story.


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Managing Diversity

Managing diversity begins with appointing a leader who’ll be responsible and accountable for ensuring a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy is created and implemented and tangible results produced.

Last year, San Francisco-based online reviews site Yelp created a new executive diversity task force that prioritizes and addresses the systemic changes it needs to make across the company. This group, which includes Yelp’s CEO, COO, and CFO, builds on its existing strategies, including using data to challenge assumptions, operationalizing inclusion, and leaning on senior leaders to remove roadblocks, said Miriam Warren, chief diversity officer at Yelp.

Warren was promoted to chief diversity officer at the start of this year from her prior position as Yelp’s senior vice president of engagement, diversity and belonging.

Some of the task force’s recent initiatives include recognition that the company needs to address offensive clients and prospective clients who use racially-charged or other abusive language in their communications with Yelp employees. 

“We do not want their business, and will not tolerate hate speech directed at our employees,” Warren said.

The task force also reevaluated its diversity training program and concluded it had more work to do. As a result, it introduced a mandatory, company-wide training program on systemic racism and institutional bias, Warren said.

Managing Diversity: A Checklist

  • Appoint a leader for your DEI strategy
  • Collect diversity data
  • Create job listings that encourage diverse applicants
  • Pair new hires with mentors
  • Provide a list of available employee resource groups (ERGs)
  • Proactively approach diverse candidates for leadership training sessions
  • Build a diverse leadership team
  • Prioritize inclusion programming
  • Implement diversity and inclusion training

Enlisting the entire company to make DEI a companywide priority has been the greatest success at Yelp in managing diversity, Warren said.

“From individual contributor training to our ‘Continuing the Conversation’ series for senior leaders and their direct reports, employees at Yelp, regardless of their title or tenure, can see in big and small ways our commitment to the work,” Warren said. “It shows up not only in training and recruiting, but also in the vendors whose products we send in our employee care packages, the speakers we invite to present, the way we celebrate and amplify local business owners through community events, the language we use, and the way we treat one another.”


Building a Diverse Leadership Team

A diverse leadership team is important to managing diversity in the workplace. Mentoring diverse talent may be more intuitive for diverse leaders because they may have already seen the challenges and issues that the less senior employees may face and are more likely to support a diverse culture that welcomes people of different backgrounds.

To help leaders with managing diversity, some companies have started hiring diversity and inclusion coordinators or chief diversity officers to prioritize and drive DEI action plans.

Other companies try to manage diversity efforts by creating a volunteer DEI committee with several employees from across the company. A committee has the benefit of brainstorming ideas from several different diverse minds rather than expecting one professional to know everything DEI related. 

Your leadership team plays a critical role in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. While you typically promote employees to managers due to their exceptional leadership skills and knowledge of their role, keep in mind managing a team is entirely different from working as an individual contributor. In addition to basic management training, you also need to consider how your managers will learn from and evolve as mentors to new and diverse direct reports. 

To increase its diverse leadership, Yelp actively seeks out potential leaders. Previously, Yelp’s sales organization looked for applicants for its management development program by asking folks to raise their hands if they met the minimum threshold for sales production and tenure.

“However, I soon realized that there were people who met the thresholds but were not raising their hands even though they were qualified,” Warren said. “There are many reasons qualified people don’t put themselves forward, and often those who weren’t tended to be women and, or, people of color.”

As a result, Yelp now sends a letter to all who have met the minimum thresholds and asks if they would like to apply for the management development program. Additionally, Yelp’s sales leaders will proactively reach out to those who qualify but haven’t applied and encourage them to take the next step.

“This small tweak changed the leadership bench almost immediately,” Warren said. “This program serves as a pipeline from salesforce to management. Given that the sales department represents at least half of our workforce, this was an opportunity to have a real, wide-ranging impact, and the results are starting to show.”

With your diversity leadership team, divvy up tasks and ensure your strategy excels across all departments. 

Additionally, from a legal standpoint, you should also establish clear non-discrimination, zero-tolerance and non-harassment policies and enforce them so your employees feel safe and are comfortable speaking out at work. The bottom line is, if your employees don’t feel included, or worse are harassed at work, they won’t stay with your company.


Setting Goals and Metrics for Managing Diversity

It’s important to start by looking at your current metrics and then set goals based on the areas your team needs improvement. There are a number of different diversity metrics you can track, but these are the most important to consider.

Managing Diversity Questions:

  • Does your company represent the diverse population at large?
  • How diverse are each of your teams and departments?
  • How diverse is your applicant pool?
  • How diverse are the candidates you actually hire?
  • Are the promotions you dole out going to a diverse pool?
  • What is your retention rate with diverse employees?
  • Is there a pay gap between white employees and diverse employees holding the same job?


Managing Diversity Through Recruitment

Building a diverse team starts with attracting and recruiting diverse candidates. Start by reviewing your recruitment marketing materials, and carefully consider which candidate personas you are targeting with your careers page, job boards, social media recruiting efforts and other recruitment platforms. 

Consider reaching out to diverse audiences through career fairs at universities with a high percentage of BIPOC students. Also arrange to have employees teach a class or serve as a speaker at these universities, so a rapport can be established with the students for future internships and hiring.

Offer higher incentives for employee referrals of diverse talent than the usual rate for your employee referral program. Also check your careers page to ensure it highlights any diversity initiatives that make your team stand out from others.


Prioritize Creating an Inclusive Environment

It’s one thing to hire diverse candidates, it’s another thing to build a culture that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone

Ironically, the more diverse an organization becomes the more difficult it is to foster inclusion, according to DEI experts.

That’s because diverse experiences lead to diverse opinions and thinking, and that can potentially make it more difficult to make everyone feel included and draw a consensus.

Many people do not lean in far enough in understanding that diverse populations need diverse solutions.

“What’s often overlooked is that we all have intersectional identities. Approaching the work with an intersectional lens allows us the opportunity to connect more broadly and deeply and gives us a much better shot at belonging for everyone,” Warren said, noting one size does not fit all. 

To help your team better understand one another’s differences, implement regular diversity and sensitivity training programs. You can do this by researching diversity and inclusion experts in your area to provide consultations, or they may even conduct the training themselves.

It’s important to note that training should not be a one-off activity. You must have regular training and education programming around diversity and inclusion to ensure your team is always informed on the latest DEI topics. This will also ensure all of your new hires are brought up to speed no matter when they join your company.


Greatest Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Diversity 

A common mistake is using your diversity numbers as the sole metric to gauge the success of your diversity efforts, Warren said.

“Numbers matter, and are one way to assess progress. Other important ways include engagement, sense of belonging, multi-dimensional representation and buy in,” she said.

Other common mistakes include focusing on the goal, rather than the steps it takes to reach the goal, and failing to realize that every solution does not have to scale, Warren said. 

“While scale is not unimportant, every great solution does not have to scale,” she said.


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