Diversity Statements for Businesses and Organizations
Diversity statements not only define your business or organization, but also act as a welcome mat for employees, participants, and others who want to use or otherwise engage with your organization. In today’s working and political environment, a diversity statement defines who and what you are.
Example: This organization is committed to the principles of inclusion and respect for all groups and individuals as a prerequisite to the highest quality experience for everyone.
Diversity is all about the unique ways we differ as people, and the value those differences bring to our workplace and our organization. Some of our differences are physical, such as nationality, gender, race, and age. But we also share less visible differences such as culture, personal values, disability, and religious belief. Valuing diversity means appreciating our individualism and behaving in such a way that we also respect each other's differences.
Example: This organization promotes a welcoming environment to groups of people from all backgrounds pertaining to gender/sex, age, ethnicity/race, color, national origin, medical condition, political or organizational affiliation, beliefs and values, marital status, interracial relationships, religion, class, sexual orientation/identity, veteran status, disability, or on the basis of any of these perceived characteristics or identities.
A diverse organization can be one of your greatest assets.
Beyond recruitment and hiring, focus on retention and motivation of the diverse workforce you worked so hard to include. For minority members, the missing piece is often a strong sense of self and an appreciation for who they are and what they offer. An inclusive diversity statement can define your business or organization and can provide an invitation to join. Many organizations do not need to reorganize or change anything, but they need to express who and what they are to show that everyone is welcome there.
How to Develop a Diversity Statement and Organization
The first order of business is to define who and what kind of organization you are. Draft a mission statement, which is a statement of why your organization exists.
Whom do you serve? What do you offer to your employees and customers? Is everyone welcome in your organization?
All events at this organization should be conducted within the principles of the organization’s Mission Statement which include:
Promoting awareness of and maintaining sensitivity to ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity within our organization, including staff, administration, and our products.
Promoting and maintaining a safe learning and working environment.
In order to achieve the goal of a diverse organization of employees, members, and participants, the following criteria need to part of your recruitment process.
Utilizing these criteria will help your organization reflect the community you serve and show your engagement as an active member.
A) Confidentiality must be observed.
B) Conflicts of interest must be disclosed.
C) Objectivity includes being aware of conflicts of interest, being aware of your prejudices and personal preferences, and making decisions based on the same criteria for everyone.
D) Discrimination includes a lack of understanding and appreciation of diverse peoples, cultures, and perspectives that informs the intellectual framework on which your organizational mission is based. This category is important especially for making choices to ensure that everyone who applies for a job or other involvement with your organization will be evaluated on their merits and not on unstated criteria (personal prejudices and preferences) that may disqualify them during the stages of screening candidates.
Draft your diversity statement with an eye toward the above criteria. Example:
This organization encourages an environment that enhances and promotes understanding of the different backgrounds and diversity of beliefs of its employees, clients, and associates when it is presented and expressed in a way that is respectful, non-threatening, and promotes the dignity of all parties.
The policies and practices at the organizational level, and values and behaviors at the individual level, enable effective cross-cultural interactions among participants, employees, and community. Your organizational representatives should use non- biased language and avoid generalizations that refer to gender, race, ethnicity, or other stereotypical groups.
Two Specific Categories of Liability: ADEA and ADA
Violation of either of these categories constitutes discrimination, either by age or by disability.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, ADEA, is a US labor law that forbids employment discrimination against anyone at least 40 years of age in the United States.
Be sure to educate your employees, members, and executives to be aware of the ADEA in advertising, screening, and employment.
Avoid phrases such as “a recent graduate”, or “a person under 30”.
The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all employment practices and made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal.
It is necessary to understand important ADA definitions to know whom the law protects and what constitutes illegal discrimination. These definitions include: An individual with a disability under the ADA is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities are activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty such as walking, breathing, seeing, hearing, speaking, learning, and working. A qualified employee or applicant with a disability may need a reasonable accommodation in order to perform the essential required duties.
The ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.