There’s no lack of studies that highlight the benefits of having a diverse business.

There’s not a lot of debate these days about the efficacy of diversity in the workplace, and each year it’s becoming harder to be a holdout.

The vast majority of millennials – 83 percent – are more likely to actively engage in their jobs and a company’s culture if they believe it to be fair and accepting of different demographics and cultures.

Millennials and younger generations are quickly becoming the dominant forces in workplaces now that more Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. Only about 56 percent of millennials are white (compared to about 72 percent of baby boomers).

The Diversity Conundrum for Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Startups

If your business is utilizing a coworking space like MAC6 or you are looking into alternatives to a traditional office environment, there’s a decent chance you’re a SMB or just starting out. Many new startups are founded by entrepreneurs who are working with a small team they already know, or they are hiring for a specific skill set. Your best hiring options may not be as diverse as you’d like them to be.

Cultivating a truly diverse workplace is a lot easier when you’re a large company because you have the ability to create bigger, more inclusive teams. If your company is comprised of three or four people, you can’t really be faulted for not being diverse. That doesn’t mean you can’t adopt inclusive polices.

Despite what some people may suggest, it is possible to have diversity-friendly policies in a workplace that encourages and values inclusivity while still hiring and promoting based on merit, not quotas.

Clearly stating in job postings and listings that you are a company that values diversity and requires equal treatment of all employees and applicants is an important first step. Make sure your company’s literature and website clearly states how much you support and encourage diversity.

Implement Policies That Are Inclusive

Small businesses may not initially need to offer flexible working hours or on-site childcare for working mothers right out of the gate, but it’s something they should consider if it ever becomes relevant to their employees.

Small businesses can also be open to allowing employees to take time off for religious holidays or they can take steps to ensure their offices are accessible for people with disabilities.

These types of policies send a message that a company is willing to match words with actions when the need to adjust business practices to embrace inclusivity does arise.

Clear, Effective Communication

Clearly communicating diversity policies and fairness in the hiring and promoting process is essential for inclusivity and diversity efforts to be effective.

It’s also necessary to clearly define guidelines and disciplinary measures that will be utilized should any employees engage in bullying or harassing behaviors. It’s vital that these policies are followed and that exceptions are not made, regardless of who the culprit may be or what their position is within the company’s hierarchy.

Workers should also have access to a clear avenue for escalating any complaints related to harassment. There needs to be some type of mechanism in place for workers to air any perceived ill or negative treatment from coworkers or management as it pertains to ethnicity, disability, age or gender identity.

For that system to work it’s also necessary for employees to feel comfortable making those complaints. If a worker feels as if their job or future at a company could be jeopardized by filing a legitimate complaint, something is wrong.

Don’t Think of Inclusivity or Safe-Workplace Policies as a Burden

New small businesses have a lot of things to deal with from a logistical standpoint. You’re worried about finding new clients, hiring the best workers, maintaining a space for your employees to work in, paying all your expenses and keeping the lights on. You may not want to have to invest a lot of extra energy at the outset into ensuring your workplace is optimally inclusive and tolerant.

Demographics are changing. Workplace diversity isn’t just important for the performance benefits listed above, it’s also just a basic demographic inevitability.

Businesses of all types are increasingly going to find that many of the qualified and skilled workers they want to hire are either women, minorities, people of varied religious backgrounds or people with different gender identities. Having policies in place now that will attract the best and brightest regardless of their background is the best way to ensure you have access to the best workforce.

Businesses looking for affordable coworking spaces in Tempe that embrace inclusivity should consider MAC6. We are committed to maintaining safe workspaces that are welcoming for everyone.