It is a fact that if you want to attract more customers to your business, then your workforce should reflect a broad section of the populace. Business aviation has lagged in this endeavor, but has made important strides in recent years to attract and retain a more diverse community of employees.
To diversify you need to recruit carefully and work diligently on retention. The first step you should be doing anyway; the second step probably needs some attention especially given that minority employees may feel disconnected, particularly if they are the one breaking fresh ground.
Before you implement a more diverse hiring strategy you need to assess your needs. Here’s how you can make that assessment then find, hire and retain minority workers:1. The community you serve. You may think that you serve the broad business aviation community, but you could be missing out on some customers. Know that people from many different backgrounds and ethnicities own aircraft and some people won’t bring their business to you unless your workplace reflects the broader culture including their ethnicity.
2. The workers you want. To broaden your workforce, you need to reach candidates where they’re at. Certainly, they are looking at the same job sites as everyone else, but when was the last time you reached out to candidates in that way? Instead, contact local colleges and universities that have high minority populations while also reaching out to churches, civic organizations and other community groups. Look beyond your area of talent living elsewhere to increase your pool of possible workers.
3. Ask your employees for referrals. One way to diversity your business is to ask your employees for referrals. Be specific about your needs too. You can say, “We are looking to expand our business and would appreciate referrals.” You can add, “We want to diversify our workforce by looking for people with different backgrounds and experiences.” Don’t be afraid to say that you’re looking for ethnic diversity if the question is asked. Also, reward your employees for each successful referral.
4. Train your people. A diversified workplace brings challenges that your staff may not be familiar with. For example, there may be a holiday that is widely celebrated by some people, but isn’t a scheduled day off for them. Covering every new holiday may not be possible, but offering one or more floating holidays can demonstrate care and concern.
5. Meet special needs. Perhaps your company is composed of mostly middle-class people. They own their own homes, cars, and take vacations, living the suburban life that is easy to take for granted. Your new people may not share that financial edge and may have certain burdens that you are not aware of such as child care needs. Review your benefits package to provide flexibility as needed.
6. Retain your people. The cost of turnover is enormous. New workers may feel uncomfortable and uncertain where they fit in. You can provide a welcoming atmosphere for all new employees by assigning mentors. Also, make clear to everyone what opportunities there are for advancement — people who feel that they have a future with a company are more likely to stay around.
Power to the People
Connected employees regardless of background are satisfied employees. As soon as your new people are brought up to speed, bring them in on the decision-making process. Help people form friendships and work diligently to nip misunderstandings in the bud to provide a cohesive and satisfying workplace, to reflect the diversity you want.
James Golden is a professional blogger that provides businesses advice on diversity in the workplace. He writes for DiversityInc Best Practices, which provides data, solutions, and best practices for diversity-management.