Trying to build a workplace culture that embraces diversity and inclusion? You’re not alone. Research indicates that companies with more diverse, inclusive teams outperform competitors who aren’t committed to a diverse or inclusive workforce.


Early efforts to boost diversity and inclusion, however, may result in a few common mistakes. Those mistakes can hinder rather than help diversity efforts – and they can even cost you top talent. Here are five missteps to avoid.

1. Making D&I efforts the job of minority employees.

It can be tempting to turn to your existing minority employees to start your D&I initiative. After all, they surely have the perspective your other team members lack – right?


Making D&I the “job” of one subset of employees, however, practically guarantees your efforts will fail. True diversity and inclusion are deep-rooted cultural values. They require every employee to participate in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace – every day.

2. Assuming the person you appoint as “head of D&I” will fix issues overnight.

Many companies make this mistake when they fail to understand why diversity and inclusion matter or how they are fostered. Leadership may see D&I as another commodity they need “more of” and appoint someone to “get” more of it.


A person appointed to “fix” diversity or inclusion is also set up to fail. As culture issues, D&I take time to develop. The person appointed to oversee efforts will need resources and support – not merely a title.

3. Ignoring intersectionality.

Many early D&I efforts focus on a one-group goal, like “Hire more women.” Yet no demographic group consists solely of one trait. Women, as a group, aren’t merely “women” – the group includes Black women, women with disabilities, and so on.


To build a truly diverse and inclusive workforce, look beyond single-label categories. Acknowledge the range of groups to which each person may belong.

4. Relying on the wrong data.

Sure, your numbers may indicate that your new hires are 50 percent women, or that racial and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented. But what do these people do?


If your 50 percent of female hires are relegated to secretarial roles or your racial and ethnic minority hires are routinely overlooked for promotions, your D&I efforts have failed. You’ve brought different faces into the team, but you haven’t changed the culture. Focus on how opportunities are available throughout the company – not merely at the hiring stage.

5. Dismissing unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias makes many of our decisions outside our awareness and without regard for data. Pretending unconscious bias isn’t an issue allows it to perform unchecked, undermining your D&I efforts.


Prevent unconscious bias from undermining your D&I efforts by using technology and hiring methods that focus on skills. Skills-based hiring helps match candidates to the roles in which they are most likely to thrive.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t merely nice to have. They’re essential for businesses that wish to outperform their competitors and attract outstanding talent. To learn more about the importance of strong diversity and inclusion initiatives, talk to the team at Odell Studner today.