You Might Be Overlooking One Unexpected Factor About Your Company's Diversity: Location
If attracting diverse candidates is important to your company, you must be located in an area accessible by all parts of the population.
When it comes to good real estate,we all know the famous mantra, "Location, location, location." But this age-old phrase can apply to a range of other applications, too, especially employment and recruiting. The team at LinkedIn, for instance, knows this to be true: The company recently released a new feature that allows job-seekers to see the length of their potential commute before they apply to any open position.
While this new feature is meant for candidates, location has an important impact on employers -- namely, it increases the diversity within their teams.
Diversifying your staff isn't just ethical -- it's good business. A McKinsey & Company study found that both gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated with profitability. Yet women and people of color remain extremely underrepresented in most industries.
The bottom line is that cultivating and retaining a diverse workforce has to be a top priority for any organization or company. And, in many cases, attaining that goal starts with where your company is located.
Why "where" matters
For all companies, employees are both their largest investment and their greatest asset. And people are typically willing to travel only just so far for a job. But if attracting diverse candidates is important to your company, your office must be located in an area that is accessible by all parts of the population.
The United States is currently facing a large economic divide, and many of our jobs simply aren't accessible to the majority of American workers. For example, an office located in a predominantly white suburb is probably going to attract only employees from that suburb.
While location has always played a role in attracting diverse candidates, it's even more important in today's evolving workforce. Companies are moving to the Midwest for this exact reason. Not only are they gaining a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting talent, but they're also getting a more diverse pool to choose from due to that region's lower cost of living, proximity to universities and better public transit options.
For example, millennials are not as open to commuting (especially long commutes) as previous generations, which is a trend that companies will have to adapt to in order to continue to attract new talent. And it's not just millennials -- attracting candidates from all walks of life means providing employees with options for commuting.
Being located in close proximity to public transit, for instance, will make your workplace much more attractive to many different populations. Amazon's HQ2 Request for Proposals noted that the winning city would have to boast a strong public transport system. The company has even implemented the new practice of busing employees to and from its offices in places like San Francisco, where rising real estate prices are a challenge.
There are no bounds to what some companies will do to get the best talent, but in the end, your location is an important factor in whom you attract and retain.
Expanding your horizons
Improving diversity within your company is no longer a strategy; it's a necessity. Neglecting diversity on your location checklist ultimately means your company is neglecting revenue and profit. Attracting diverse talent should be at the top of every company's priority list.
So, how can you recognize whether a new location will yield diverse candidates? Look for these things in potential locations to help you find what you need:
1. Data supporting diversity
Companies should research data regarding demographics, education levels and income disparity when choosing a location. An office located in an area with a wide range of demographics will make it easier to recruit a diverse set of candidates, and you can affect social change in the process.
That's what a group of investors from Seattle is trying to do with Upaya Social Ventures, an accelerator that funds and supports startups that employ workers in some of India's poorest communities. Even if you're located in a city with a tech hub, you can still invest and work in communities that would otherwise be left behind.
2. Access to transportation
While your office's location is important, it doesn't matter if your employees can't easily get there. Having offices located in close proximity to public transportation systems will remove barriers for people without reliable personal transportation or employees who live in different regions.
Both lower-income and minority candidates are proportionately more likely to use public transportation for their commute, meaning that poor transit access will likely prevent many diverse candidates from reaching your office. And those who do attempt the commute will suffer the added stressors of a long trip, potentially impacting their job performance.
3. Workforce development programs
It is important to do research on the talent pipelines in the area you're considering for your office. A company needs to ensure that the area has developed strong pipelines, from K-12 schools and universities.
A company needs to ensure that the area has developed strong pipelines, from high schools and universities to training and retraining programs.
Scott Galloway, author of The Four, suggests that companies look for the universities that are strong in engineering or STEM to find an ecosystem that can support a unicorn. Companies have been relying on universities as resources for quality candidates, and by crafting programs that specifically target diverse populations, they can encourage these individuals to pursue new industries while keeping their businesses top of mind.
A company will only be as successful as its talent. And a diverse workforce means diversity in ideas, more innovation and a more profitable bottom line. Every company should have an actionable plan to recruit, hire and retain diverse talent. After all, this just makes good business sense.
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