How to build a case for diversity

Before developing diversity initiatives, consider the reason for the initiative(s). Consider what the agency would like to achieve or desired outcomes as a result of these initiatives, then build the business necessity for the initiative.

Strategic areas to consider when building an agency business case for diversity:

Improving Employee Satisfaction

By focusing initiatives on diversity issues that may affect your workforce, you can improve employee satisfaction. Because of this specific focus, your employees may become more productive, creative, innovative and motivated. Diversity initiatives focused on employee satisfaction sends a message of commitment and value of an inclusive work environment.

Satisfied employees can improve your customer relationships and are retained longer. Employers with high retention rates save money in lost productivity, recruiting, hiring cost and legal costs.

Tip – An employee satisfaction survey focused primarily on diversity can provide a benchmark for the agency climate. This may also be known as a cultural audit or assessment tool.

Enhanced Recruitment

A diverse workforce can help you champion the agency commitment to diversity. Potential employees want to see the agency commitment reflected in the agency workforce at all levels. A workforce can also champion the agency reputation as an inclusive environment in which everyone has opportunities to reach their full potential. An internal workforce can help identify artificial barriers in which an agency can eliminate to maximize recruitment efforts.

Tip – Utilize the diversity within your organization to participate on interview panels.

Increasing Employee Awareness and Engagement

Assist employees to understand their role in a healthy working environment that recognizes and values differences.

Assistance may come in the form of diversity training, conflict resolution and/or effective communication courses. Informal programs can also be included such as mentorship programs.

Tip – Many employers have employee resource groups, often called affinity groups. These are groups that can establish internal networking opportunities for employees who share a similar demographic characteristic or other characteristics. These groups can be very helpful in the diversity change process. They can help educate other employees about their cultural background, provide mentoring opportunities and career development guidance to their members.

Competitive Edge

Share examples of diversity successes. For example, if a bilingual employee was able to build a relationship with a bilingual community that resulted in increased services provided.

Questions to consider when building an organization business case:

  • Does the executive leadership understand and can explain to the business case for diversity in your organization?
  • Does executive leadership support a diversity initiative? Why or Why not?
  • Are there allocated resources for diversity initiatives? (i.e. dedicated staff, budget for expenditures)
  • What are the demographics of your workforce or your customer/client base? (e.g. age, income, gender, education, ethnicity, etc.)
  • How many languages are spoken by your employees or customer/clients?
  • How much does employee turnover cost your agency?
  • How much does your agency spend annually on recruitment?
  • Are your policies and benefits attractive to potential diverse candidates?
  • How much have discrimination/harassment lawsuits and/or settlements cost your organization in the past two years?
  • How frequently does employee conflict arise?
  • Is there a high level of turnover among certain employee groups?
  • Is your organization losing top talent because staff morale is low?
  • Do all employees feel their talents and skills are well rewarded?
  • Are there opportunities for internal career advancement and/or development for staff?
  • Is diversity reflected in your procurement policies and among your suppliers? 
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