Diversity and inclusion (D+I) best practices have become a mainstay in the HR space over the last few years. These principles have become a significant priority as many organizations are currently creating roles specifically around the importance and activation of diverse and inclusive practices within the organizational culture.
With more data and statistics being shared on the significance of D+I and how it can create a more engaging and inclusive work culture, you might be thinking about how you and your management team can begin this journey. You might be asking yourself questions like:
- How well do I understand the organization’s present employee composition?
- What does inclusive mean?
- How can our workplace culture be revamped to suit everyone in the organization?
If you are asking yourself those questions, you are on the right track!
The ideal definition of a positive and inclusive organizational culture supports employees regardless of their gender, ethnicity, race, or socio-economic status, making them a part of the organization, rather than feeling like they are just working for it. Not only will they feel physiologically safe and have a sense of belonging within the organization, but they will feel confident at having a seat at the table and an opportunity for their voices to be heard and valued.
The culture of your business is not to be underestimated when it comes to driving diversity and forming a truly inclusive environment.
Here are some tips on building an inclusive workplace culture:
1. Be All Ears
Creating an inclusive culture starts with creating a space where all thoughts, opinions and perspectives of employees can be shared and heard. This is fundamental — if your employees aren’t given the freedom to contribute in meaningful ways, it can lead to disengagement really fast.
And listening should not be limited to informal or formal meetings. Creating meaningful opportunities for thought sharing can be done through workshops, employee surveys and crowd-sourcing.
Encourage as much transparency as possible, no matter how uncomfortable. Involve employees at all levels, from entry-level to C-suite executives, and show you genuinely empathize with them when they bring forward concerning matters.
2. Act After Listening
Nothing feels worse than feeling like you’ve been heard, but nothing changes, and your words have fallen on deaf ears. It’s essential when creating inclusivity within your team that you show and appreciate their openness by taking action.
One great idea can be investing in resource groups that help employees interact with people with whom they share similarities. This will create space and support for those employees who want to participate, and further, it helps build a sense of belonging within your organization and culture.
Your employees don’t need to be limited to just what is created internally with resource groups. You can partner with many external organizations that advocate and support individuals from marginalized groups in ways of events, coaching, mentorship and training.
3. Value All Contributions
With creating an inclusive culture, everyone brings unique perspectives to the table that help others see the whole picture from different vantage points. Ensuring you are not caught up in just one viewpoint while hearing what everyone has to say is very important.
For example, contributions at the higher level will give executive insight in the same way inputs at the junior level will help you understand what the current culture depicts. No matter the offering, reinforcing positive behaviors and actions will build a sense of belonging and togetherness within your business, yielding increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.
4. Connectivity With Senior Leadership
Breaking down the “them vs. us” mentality is key to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging at your workplace. It’s important that your leadership team not be seen as superior beings who are not to be talked to or disturbed. This mentality creates invisible barriers among the rest of the team and cuts off any chance of vulnerability and sharing from staff to management.
Creating transparency and openness throughout all levels of the organization breaks down any cliques and facilitates transparency, empathy and better communication. When leaders take the step to connect with their staff, those awkward and uncomfortable conversations become a thing of the past, and authentic relationships begin to form. This is when the real magic happens.
Having an inclusive culture is not about being politically correct, fulfilling a ‘quota’, or holding hands in a trust circle (insert another cheesy team-building exercise here); it’s about being strategic with your business.
The benefits that come with having an inclusive culture are immense, from creating more space for creativity and innovative ideas to better collaboration within your teams and, most importantly, higher engagement from your staff at all levels. It’s safe to say the most progressive businesses take inclusion seriously, and if you want to remain competitive, you will want to as well.