7 Ways To Harness The Power of Diversity


What is one way to harness the power of diversity and dispel myths and stereotypes in the workplace?

To help you dispel myths and stereotypes in the workplace, we asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best insights. From using company core values to supporting affinity groups, there are several ways to harness the power of diversity and dispel myths and stereotypes in your workplace.

Here are seven ways to harness the power of diversity:

  • Use Company Core Values
  • Make Intentional Changes
  • Encourage DEI Programming and Reporting
  • Change Your Recruitment Practices to Attract Diversity
  • Work to Understand People's Personal Experiences
  • Encourage Storytime to Bring Employees Together
  • Support Affinity Groups

Use Company Core Values

I've learned that the best way to shape the decisions, behaviors, and actions of a company is through a company's core values. By properly defining core values, a company can effectively build anything they want within the confines of that foundation. Both companies I've founded in the last ten years have had a core value of "You Are Unique," where the definition has been to "Respect the uniqueness of every human being." Our belief is that every human being is a miracle that can't be replicated.

By focusing on the uniqueness of every human, this core value has enabled employees at our company to truly appreciate the perspectives of team members, stakeholders, and customers. It's through this core value that we've been successful in harnessing the power of diversity to go after ambitious company visions and achieve some great things together.

Brett Farmiloe ’06 BSBA (Accounting), CEO and Founder of Terkel

Make Intentional Changes

As a woman in a very male-dominated industry, I have seen organizations that don't adapt to a more diverse workplace. The only way to truly harness the power of diversity is to make intentional changes that bring in more diversity and allow those diverse individuals with the same opportunities for success and upward mobility. We must be aware of how our actions and culture affect and attract others.

Alison Stine, ’13 BSBA (Finance), Founder of Stine Wealth Management

Encourage DEI Programming and Reporting

Ask your employer if there are opportunities to set up diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that encourage building inclusive communities across your organization. Bring examples of ESG reports from publically-traded companies like Starbucks to support your request and illustrate these programs are mainstream.

Diego Romero, ’10 BSBA (Marketing), Vice President of Communications at Accelerate360

Change Your Recruitment Practices to Attract Diversity

One of the best ways to harness the power of diversity in the workplace is done before an employee is even hired by your organization. Reviewing and revising your job descriptions to remove gendered language is a great way to start. I would also recommend utilizing a ‘blind’ system of resume reviews and implicit bias training to ensure that candidates are being evaluated on the strength of their experience and knowledge, which in turn helps to reduce stereotypes based on demographics.

Jessica Cassidy, ’23 MBA, HR Generalist at Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Work to Understand People's Personal Experiences

It's something that can't really be forced because people can become very uncomfortable if you ask them a lot of personal questions soon after you meet them, but it helps to learn even little things about someone to understand more about why they look at things a certain way. Maybe they have suffered a job loss and are now hypersensitive to potential company layoffs, or maybe they have only worked at larger companies and don't know what it's like to work at a startup.

There are many situations where people are not comfortable speaking up in meetings and it helps a lot to try to get to know them on a personal level so even if they are not comfortable speaking in front of a group, they may be comfortable sharing their opinion on something in private. It takes practice, but it definitely worth getting to know co-worker's experiences to be able to make more informed business decisions.

Evan Reed ’14 BSBA (Marketing), Associate Category Development Manager at The Wonderful Company

Encourage Storytime to Bring Employees Together

Coupled with diversity, the power of story to dispel stereotypes in the workplace becomes unstoppable. Employees of different cultural backgrounds sharing their personal stories during lunch breaks etc. organically shatters labels in more profound ways than any seminar or class ever could, prompting staff to individuate each other rather than assign group labels.

Lennon Flowers, who helped launch People's Supper, a project that hosts dinners for people of diverse backgrounds, said  “So often our conversations are limited to our positions, rather than our stories, rather than who we are." Story builds empathy and in turn brings employees together.

Michael Van, Furnishr

Support Affinity Groups

Affinity groups can have an oversized positive impact on workplace collaboration, teamwork, and relationships, both internally and externally in the workplace. Employees from different backgrounds, especially people of color, are likely to feel more comfortable and loyal to a company that supports affinity groups. In any instance of discrimination, affinity groups are also often on the front lines in helping resolve the issue. You should do all you can to support them.

Phillip Lew, C9 Staff

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.