McKinsey in one of their recent research found that companies with racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more profitable than their competitors. Diversity and Inclusion or (D&I) has become one of the crucial factors for businesses to thrive in the long run. While D&I has been the buzzword and focus for the Human Resources industry for a few decades now, over the years it has become a part of the overall organization’s core values and culture. In this article, we will share some strategies for managers, leaders, and the organization which will help you promote a culture of diversity, inclusion, equality, and equity throughout the organization. But before we look into the strategies, let us look at some benefits of diversity and inclusion, and also understand the terms better.
Benefits of Diversity And Inclusion
Here are the top six benefits of diversity and inclusion at the workplace:
- Wider Talent Pool
- Greater Creativity and Innovation
- Higher Retention & Lower Turnover Rate
- Better Performance
- Increased Employee Engagement
- Positive Company Culture
But Diversity and Inclusion Are Not The Same
Diversity in the workplace simply refers to a workforce with diverse individuals. It includes individuals from different backgrounds, gender, political beliefs, race, age, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, etc.
But diversity alone can’t bring about the change organizations are looking for. Inclusion plays an integral part. While organizations often use the words diversity and inclusion interchangeably, they are different. Inclusion refers to establishing a work environment where everyone feels welcomed. They get a true sense of belonging and feel respected, valued, and heard.
Here are some strategies which will help you build a diversified and inclusive workforce.
Empathetic Leadership and Support
In most organizations, diversity and inclusion are often considered as HR-owned initiatives only. But it shouldn’t be so. It is the responsibility of everyone to promote it, especially the leadership. Just like any other process or policy, leadership support and involvement is necessary for D&I initiatives to be successful. Leaders are responsible for creating a workspace where everyone feels safe and heard. As a leader, share your own stories about feeling excluded or being subjected to biases. Encourage your employees to share their own stories. As a result, they will feel more welcomed and included. Leadership support helps prioritize D&I initiatives and implement it easily organization wide.
It is advisable to train and educate your company leadership on the benefits and importance of D&I initiatives before implementing them company wide.
Rethink Work Policies & Values
While promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion, leaders, managers, and HRs must consciously strategize on creating more employee-friendly policies that support D&I. They must proactively evaluate existing ones, revamp them, and add new ones.
Here’s how you can rethink your work policies and values:
- Launch hiring initiatives to hire a wide range of talent from job fairs, hiring consultancies, and community outreach programs
- Ensure a fair compensation policy that focuses on skills and experience and should not discriminate against anyone based on sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.
- Offer gender-neutral washrooms at workplaces
- Add holidays in the company calendar, keeping in mind employees from different religion and culture
- Publish company policies and rules in more than one language
- Day-care facilities for mothers
- Wheelchair accessible office
Making your employees feel comfortable at work because of their beliefs, culture, and tradition is one of the best ways to promote diversity and inclusion. Here are some ways by which you can celebrate the differences at your organization:
- Organize a potluck where each employee brings in food that showcases their culture and home country
- If your workforce is still remote or hybrid, organize a video meeting and ask everyone to share a unique fact about themselves and their countries
- Create a separate space or room for your Muslim employees to pray every Friday
- Organize events and celebrate important days and months which promote diversity and inclusion such as June for Pride Month, May for the Asia Pacific Heritage Month, February for Black History Month. Highlight its importance for the respective communities
- Involve individual of different sex, culture, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation in the decision-making process or amongst one of the board members
Develop Training Programs
Building an inclusive and diversified work culture is not a one-day activity for an organization. It needs time and effort. Besides that, employees themselves might have different interpretations of the phrase ‘Diversity & Inclusion.’ It is crucial to train your employees so that their thoughts align with the organization’s idea of D&I, which in turn, should align with the broader concept of diversity, inclusion, and its challenges. Such training helps employees to understand the differences better and collaborate better as a team. It also helps them to get rid of unconscious biases. Leaders should let employees know the goal of D&I training, why it is important, and what issue it will help to solve. Someone from the organization or external can help structure and design the training programs.
Take Feedback To Understand Your Employees Better
It is important to listen to what your employees have to say. Lend them your ear and open easy channels of communication for them. Connect with your employees regularly, conduct anonymous surveys, pulse surveys, feedback, check-ins, etc., to understand your employees better. Encourage your employees to take part and openly communicate their experiences about how they feel about working in the organization. Employees will feel that their concerns and opinions are heard and valued. Additionally, it will help organizations and leaders to decide about the instances of discrimination and biases.
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