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First Steps Toward Creating a More Diverse Workplace

If you want to create a culture of diversity in your business, you should be looking both at internal operational structures and the way you present your business to the community. 

Julie Schweber

Julie Schweber, a senior human resources knowledge adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management, says if you want to create a more inclusive workplace, you can start by asking some questions about how your business operates. Those questions can prompt changes towards a more diverse workplace.



Do staff on the front line look like your customer base? 

Look at the demographic surrounding your business, then look at your staff. Are they similar? Customers want to shop at places where the people operating the business look like them. That means businesses may need to be proactive in hiring people from diverse backgrounds, Schweber says. 

“Employers must develop and communicate diversity in their overall philosophy,” she says. “You may need to recruit strategically and it may be helpful to set goals of what diversity in your company looks like.”

Do new hires want to stay?

Once they are hired, new employees should feel like they are part of the team. Otherwise, they may not stay long.

“While you might be successful at bringing in more diverse people, you also need to make them feel valued and appreciated,” Schweber says. “If you’ve not already started to build a culture that values diversity before they’re hired, then new hires will not feel welcome.”

Are your suppliers committed to diversity? 

Evaluate your suppliers and see what they are doing to support diversity. Larger companies may have diversity initiatives, such as adding more people with diverse backgrounds to their boards or management teams. You can also look to see if you could be buying from minority-owned businesses. When you support those companies, you are sending a message that you value their efforts toward diversity.

Does your marketing reflect your diverse culture?

What’s online or in your promotional material may be the first impression some customers have of your business. Make sure that material reflects the inclusive culture you may be trying to build in the business.

“Be mindful of how and where products are marketed,” Schweber says. “Are you including diverse people in ads and social media platforms? A lot of people shop based on what’s displayed on a company’s social media.”

Is your loss prevention training biased? 

Every employee needs to be vigilant in preventing shoplifters. There are also certain behaviors that can tip you off that a customer may be planning to shoplift, which could cause you to keep an eye on them a little more closely in the store. Make sure you are watching customers based on their behavior, not their appearance. 

“Re-evaluate the way you train employees to look for shoplifters,” Schweber says. “Focus on behavior, not looks. Train employees on how to determine which customers you follow around the store or watch more carefully than others. Don’t target a customer just because they are of a certain race.”


About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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