5 Ways You Can Foster An Inclusive Workplace Culture
It is a well known fact that organizations need both diversity and inclusion to be successful. Most people’s definition of diversity is limited to race and gender. However, diversity represents the full spectrum of human demographic differences, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status or physical disability. Inclusion involves bringing together and harnessing these diverse forces and resources, in a way that is beneficial. Inclusion is integral to the modern workplace and all employees should be able to participate in, and contribute to, the progress and success of an organization.
Putting focused effort towards Diversity and Inclusion isn’t just a social impact initiative, but an opportunity to create an environment that drives innovation and growth to improve business outcomes. According to research from McKinsey and Company, gender diverse companies are more likely to outperform their competitors by 15% and ethnically diverse companies are more likely to outperform their competitors by 35%. Diverse teams bring higher returns. Organizations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative, to anticipate change and respond effectively and are two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
Diversity & Inclusion does not just happen. Organizations must make investments and demonstrate commitment, execution, and accountability to reap the benefits. While organization leaders are ultimately responsible for prescribing and setting the workplace culture, we as employees can do our part in making our workplace a more inclusive environment and inspire new ways to engage and collaborate.
Here are five ways that you, as an employee, can help foster a more inclusive workplace
Address inclusion issues and define what a successful inclusion initiative would mean for you. Capture data on employee demographics to determine the need for change. Gather information about the current company culture regarding diversity and inclusion. Surveying employees can help shed light on their perception of the company in relation to encouraging and appreciating diversity in the workplace. Identify how a diverse and inclusive workforce can aid in achieving business objectives aligned with the company's strategy and set specific goals related to diversity and inclusion based on the company's strategic objectives. Develop an action plan to implement initiatives. Examples of diversity and inclusion initiatives are changes in policies and practices, staff training, targeted recruiting, employer-sponsored diversity and inclusion awareness events for employees, and employee resource groups. Creating a resource group provides a platform for employees to comfortably voice their opinions, share their knowledge and ideas, and collaborate. Employee resource groups are an integral part of the diversity and inclusion journey and a key to maintaining a richly diverse talent base.
Start to think about diversity and inclusion in terms of outcomes, goals and impact. Work from a well-documented plan of action complete with goals, objectives and lots of small manageable tasks to help realize change.
Get Buy in
Engaging employees at all levels is the most effective way to reach a critical mass and communicate the importance of diversity and inclusion. Actively seek out new perspectives and ideas. It is helpful to identify a senior level champion who can be tasked with visible support of the initiative and ultimately responsible for keeping the program "alive.” Identify how management will be held accountable for supporting and engaging in the diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Review & Adjust
Diversity and inclusion initiatives are not static, and an ongoing review of the workforce and a response to changing needs are necessary. It is imperative to continually measure the results of the diversity initiatives that have been implemented. Procedures for periodic review of the diversity and inclusion initiatives and goals should be established. The results of the initiatives should be communicated at all levels to demonstrate the return on investment and value add to the organization.
Commit to the process by understanding how diversity impacts your role, and how your role impacts the success of the diversity initiative. Commit to continuous improvement, and be willing to learn, accept feedback, and listen to the concerns of those around you.
Creating an inclusive organization isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.