The Strategy You Need to Engage a Diverse Workforce

Guest contributor Terry Lipovski is the president of Ubiquity, a preeminent provider of leadership development services around the world. HR professionals interested in contributing to Reinventing HR can email

In our post on the performance benefits of diversity, we spoke about how important it is to create an inclusive, diversified organization. We highlighted that some organizations are doing a great job of raising awareness about welcoming and supporting diversity. These are “Push Strategies.” Unfortunately, there exists a significant gap. What is missing is one-to-one support for each new diverse team member. This is a “Pull Strategy.” In this post, we explore some tips and tactics that leaders can use to support the individuals who will provide those fresh perspectives and challenge conventional wisdom.

What is missing is one-to-one support for each new diverse team member.  

One-to-one diversity coaching is one way these individuals can refine their skills, abilities and perspectives to overcome their unique challenges and rise above it all. We can push training on organizations all we want, but until someone helps the affected individuals to believe that they can and should step up, our companies will remain “Theoretically Inclusive.”

Here’s some tips we teach in diversity coaching to help people climb those unique mountains:

Begin With the End in Mind

Be strategic. Having a defined goal, plan and resources mapped out will solidify your approach and center you with a powerful purpose. Ask yourself what kind of leader you want to be. Think about leaders you’ve admired and what made them admirable. Know what leadership options you have and learn the most appropriate styles for different circumstances.

Be Significant

Challenge yourself to think big when setting your developmental and leadership goals. Do not allow yourself to settle for mediocrity. Analyze your goal with Toyota’s “5 Whys” process to uncover your core hesitations and motivations.

Use Acceptance and Adaptability

You are facing more hurdles than others. Accept that fact. This is not something that can be easily overcome or quickly changed, but it is also not something to stress over because it is not about you. Companies should all be raising awareness of the benefits of diverse leadership teams; however, moving mountains will take time. In the meantime, learn to accept and adapt.

Apply Resilience and Courage

Know who you are. Know your strengths and what makes you unique. Live authentically and consistently with what you believe in helps to ground you. Take time to examine your values, beliefs, identify strengths and skills. You will overcome negative expectations by showing competence as you become the person who can and will reach your significant goals.

Know who you are. You will overcome negative expectations by showing competence. Click To Tweet

Build Your Networks

List the people that you need on your team in order to reach your goals. Think about those you need to influence and those you need advice and support from. If the relationship isn’t at least an 8/10, build a plan to get there by enhancing your influence.

Refine Your Presence

Refine and polish how you come across in your manners, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, your writing, team contribution, speech, presentations and how you carry yourself every day. Inspire confidence.

Be Your Best PR Team

Be strategic with projects to build your reputation. You’ve built experience and a reputation in the past but you don’t need to dwell on that. Know how to focus forward and connect the dots between organizational needs and your unique strengths.

The combination of diversity training and diversity coaching has powerful potential. When board members see previously excluded colleagues get promoted, exceeding expectations and lead their teams into unbroken terrain, old stereotypes and preconceived notions will melt away and a new level of respect for factual abilities and skills will emerge.