Nurturing diversity in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

Diversity helps organizations avoid homogenous thinking and sparks increased creativity and innovation. Diversity helps companies understand customers better and expand their reach. And according to the Harvard Business Review, diversity even helps businesses solve problems faster.

Of course, growing a highly talented and diverse workforce doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a purposeful approach to attracting, hiring, and nurturing diverse talent. It requires an environment where employees are supported and empowered to develop their strengths, take risks, and collaborate openly.

And it requires an inclusive culture where everyone—regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, age, disability, or perspective—is treated equitably, with respect and consideration, and feels safe to be their authentic selves.

What are some steps you can take to attract and grow a highly talented and diverse workforce? Here are some strategies that we use here at Beyondsoft.

Attracting diverse candidates

Attracting and recruiting highly talented and diverse candidates necessitates outside-the-box thinking. While channels such as LinkedIn can be helpful, it’s also useful to include more diverse channels such as retraining programs, user groups, specialty publications, and recruiting events.

For example, Hire Autism is a great way to find talented individuals on the autism spectrum. To target a broad range of underrepresented groups in the US, check out Diversity Jobs. If you want to increase the number of veterans, consider advertising at Hire Purpose (US).

Make diverse referrals a top priority. Work with diverse groups within your organization to encourage referrals. Ask employees to tap their networks for diverse leads. You can even ask people you know outside your company.

Another way to attract a more diverse workforce is to create internship programs and entry-level opportunities for underrepresented groups. When building an internship program, make sure your program leadership reflects the diversity you seek to attract. Avoid unpaid internships as they are typically only accessible to candidates with the financial ability to work for free.

Be conscious of unconscious bias. When assessing job candidates, remove applicants’ details to avoid making unintended decisions based on assumed age, race, or gender.

When it’s time to interview, make sure that your selection committee is diverse. Conduct interviews that allow teams to evaluate skill sets, culture fit, and overall success based on their goals. Consider creating a standard set of interview questions to help eliminate unconscious bias and ensure that all candidates are treated equally.

Finally, be sure to provide a positive candidate experience throughout the hiring process, emphasizing communication, and expectations. Helping candidates know what to expect (and what is expected), helps smooth the way for a positive experience. Keeping candidates informed is not only respectful, but it also demonstrates that you value them and their time. If someone has not been selected, notify them as early in the process as possible.

Growing and retaining diverse talent

We recently shared our approach to talent retention, which is about creating a culture where employees thrive. And when it comes to growing and retaining a diverse talent base, this approach is vital.

Great work happens when employees are set up for success and are doing what they love. Prioritize developing employee strengths over “fixing” weaknesses. Capitalize on employees’ passions and strengths by putting them in positions that make the most of their abilities. This helps employees build on their natural talents and accelerate their impact and success.

Provide plenty of external resources for learning and career development. Keep employees engaged and challenged by offering assignments or projects that allow them to expand their existing skills. Create a safe environment where employees can take risks and learn from mistakes. Make it a priority to recognize employee achievements. And implement a policy of continuous coaching and feedback, not only during formal review time.

If you haven’t already done so, establish a formal mentorship program. According to the Creating a Culture of Mentorship study, 30% of women (compared to 27% of men) and 32% of minorities (compared to 27% overall) found mentorship extremely important. Benefits include getting feedback on professional strengths, development opportunities, and career paths. Mentoring helps ensure industry knowledge transfer and creates bonds between employees. It gives employees allies and helps to reduce turnover. Plus, it helps to build leadership skills internally.

Finally, keep in mind that diverse leaders are more likely to attract a diverse talent pool–which means you need to focus on providing leadership training and opportunities to various employees. Maximize your top, diverse talent by placing them in positions where they can influence the organization.

Attracting and growing a diverse and highly talented workforce demands a concerted effort. But when it’s done right, it can help your organization excel. Here at Beyondsoft, we are proud of our highly talented, diverse, and inclusive workforce. To learn more, connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter, and be sure to check out our career opportunities.