Originally Published on Forbes.com on August 28th, 2019.

The importance of diversity in business is understated in many cases. However, for a company to experience its true potential, it must be willing to take advantage of the benefits that a diverse workforce offers. Engaging different audiences, for example, is a much easier task with a diverse workforce from whom the company can draw experiences and background information.

Executives and agencies can help seed this diversity within their workforce by progressive hiring practices and the implementation of specific processes in everyday operations. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council offer insight into how agencies and executives alike can incorporate these practices into their work to encourage increased diversity within their industry.

Members explain how to shift your work and hiring practices to better promote diversity.


1. Don’t Fake It From The Outside

The first (and most important) rule in reaching out to and engaging with diverse audiences is to make sure that members of the audience are a part of your team. You can’t fake it from the outside. No research will tell you how another demographic will receive a message. Make sure that you include diverse members of your own team to vet any diversity message or hiring practice. – A. Lee JudgeContent Monsta

2. Understand Your Audience So No One Is Left Out

It all starts with knowing your audience. You need to understand not only what they want from you, but also the things they like and, more importantly, what they don’t like. Everything, from the content on your website to the ad campaigns you create, should be with your audience in mind. Diversity is about making sure no one is left out, and the last thing you want to do is leave out your audience. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing

3. Implement Processes To Fight Unconscious Bias

Everyone has unconscious biases, but failing to address these creates a cycle in which companies continue to hire those that act, think and look similar to themselves. Promote diversity by implementing internship and mentoring programs that target non-traditional candidates as a way to invest in training for critical skills and build a pipeline of more diverse talent. – Theresa Schieber,Givewith

4. Seek Those With Different Life Experiences

We focus on “results-first” in everything we do for our clients. One of the things that helps fuel this results-first mantra is diversity. This can translate to diverse lifestyles, expressions, opinions and beyond, so we seek out those with different life experiences and points of view who can help fuel creativity. Our no-dress code and open-door policies encourage this creativity every day. – Bernard May, National Positions

5. Partner With Local Organizations

One thing that is very important about promoting diversity is making sure that you are going to be able to do so locally. There are often many local organizations that will allow you to find great people from all backgrounds. One of the best ways to do this is to offer internships at your company and hire from there. – Jon James, Ignited Results

6. Develop A Culture That Welcomes Diverse Opinions

Diversity does not just happen. It does not land on your doorstep with one clever hire. Agency executives have to make a real effort to develop a culture that welcomes diverse opinions and actively demonstrate that in their practices and show it on their masthead. Start by uncovering what might be some of the quiet fears or concerns of your diverse applicants and addressing them head-on. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

7. Promote Creative Careers At Schools

Our industry is significantly behind in minority representation. In order for the creative business to reflect the shifting demographics of our country, we need to be visible and present at colleges and high schools to show them that creative careers are viable. We need to offer intern programs for minorities, as well. – Elle Morris, SnapDragon

8. Attract People From Diverse Places

Here’s one small change to the hiring process that can make a night-and-day difference. Rather than hoping that the right candidates will find you, start looking for them. Promote job offers on the places where they will actually see them. There are some niche job boards like Diversity Working or Recruit Disability where you can advertise to diverse candidates specifically. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

9. Step Outside Your Circle

We often see applicants come to us through a referral or inner circle of connections. Oftentimes, our circle is similar in age, ethnicity, race, beliefs, and viewpoints. To expand our recruitment efforts, we need to engage in organizations, schools and communities in which we will find individuals who have the characteristics that we are looking to add, and then be open to their differences. – Korena Keys,KeyMedia Solutions

10. Hire Worldwide Talent

As an international boutique branding agency, we look for prospective employees from other countries, some of whom may not be U.S. citizens. Making the investment in understanding the work visa process and having a relationship with an immigration attorney allows us to offer employment where other companies overlook qualified candidates. This results in a more diverse and dedicated workforce. – Kris Flint, Citizen Best

11. Avoid Hiring Similar Types Of People

You may think you have your hiring “type” down. But, if your agency hires similar types of people with similar experiences and skillsets, they solve the same problems the same way. This is very limiting, creating a big risk for your organization. Today’s most effective creative agencies must have diversity in creative product — which is nearly impossible to do without diversity of creative talent. –Blair Brady, WITH/agency

12. Implement Bias-Free Procedures

Procedures should be free from biases related to race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or other characteristics that are unrelated to the job. This starts with the verbiage used in job postings. Many times the language used in job descriptions can subconsciously dissuade diverse candidate from applying. Use a diverse group of interviewers from various educational and economic backgrounds. – Henry Kurkowski, One WiFi

13. Define What Diversity Means To You

Diversity doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, so the first step is to define what diversity means to your agency. For instance, does it mean having one or more multilingual staff member? Maybe your definition of diversity is around skin color or nationality. Once you define what it means to your agency you should set clear goals around hiring so that you can achieve the mix of diversity you desire. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO

14. Focus On The Future Leaders In Your City

It’s important to connect with younger generations of professionals. Build inroads now into young professional organizations and college chapters of industry associations in your city to show them you value their voice and need their talent. When you’re hiring for an open position, prioritize diversity over expediency. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

15. Purposefully Expand Your Network

All companies have the ability to draw from the same group of people. I’ve found the most effective method to reach diverse candidates is to be thoroughly networked. We don’t just simply post a job and hope someone sees it. We get involved with development groups for underrepresented folks, build relationships with coding and project management education programs, and host meet-ups in our office. – Justin Grossman, meltmedia