Here at #WorkTrends we spend a lot of time thinking about how to transform buzzwords into action, and this week we’re breaking down “diversity in hiring.”

There has been a lot of lip service paid to this topic, but many HR professionals find that there can be barriers to building a more diverse organization. However, there are tangible steps you can take to attract, hire and retain more diverse candidates. This week we speak with tech leader Carrie Maslen about how you can take those steps — and why diversity is so important.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Importance of Diversity

When considered in a vacuum, diversity is an incredibly worthy goal. After all, why shouldn’t the places we work resemble the places we live?

But Maslen says diversity is more than just a buzzword or aspiration. Organizations that embrace diversity see actionable, proven — and repeatable — results. “The data is clear,” she says. “The more diverse the team, the better the organizational outcomes.” Maslen says research from outfits including McKinsey, Catalyst and Boston Consulting, as well as many organizations’ own internal research, has consistently reached the same findings: “With more women on the team, you deliver the financial results.”

Diversity, however, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Maslen says she has found that when organizational makeup changes to include 20% of an under-represented group, that change begins to steamroll through an organization. “There are enough opinions and voices that they can’t be quieted. They have to be heard,” she says.

Make Sure Your Candidate Pool Is Wide

So how does an organization reach that 20% threshold? Maslen says change has to begin from the top. The entire organization has to understand that diversity is a business goal.

HR has a large role to play in ensuring that these goals are met. This includes being transparent about its data with leadership, showing not only accomplishments but the organization’s shortcomings. HR also needs to make sure it plays a large role in recruiting a more diverse candidate pipeline. Maslen says she has worked with a lot of managers who have a candidate in mind for a position, and she has had to put her foot down to ensure that more diverse candidates are included. Thankfully, she says, managers have become more and more receptive to looking outside their network. “Change is happening,” she says.

Remember Your Retention Strategies

It’s not enough simply to bring in female employees; you have to ensure that you also retain them. Maslen recommends taking a look at your maternity- and paternity-leave policies so that they better serve the needs of female workers — and make sure that these same workers are included in the decision-making process.

Maslen says women can be great advocates for themselves, and they can effect change from the inside, especially as organizations become more diverse. “But that can only go so far,” she says. Ultimately, transforming an organization into a thriving, diverse place to work is an organizational mandate. “The company really needs to create the environment, the policies and the practices that enable women to thrive and succeed,” she says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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