I like to think about inclusion at the workplace as being similar to humility. Everyone likes to admits they have it but in reality, they don’t.
In a recent Deloitte survey, 80% of employees consider inclusion as an important factor while choosing an employer.
But what does having an inclusive culture actually mean? Is it the same as having a diverse workforce?
Let’s take a look.
There Is No Diversity Without Inclusion
Imagine hosting a dinner party.
Every guest has their own set of preferences. Some are vegetarian while others are vegans Some have a gluten allergy, others don’t like eggs.
The problem is, you have a set menu. Even unknowingly, you have managed to alienate half of your guests.
Seeing that problem, you made a few changes the next time you hosted a dinner. And the next week. And the week after that. Until finally, you create a menu that every guest manages to enjoy.
Diversity is getting an invitation to the dinner. Inclusion is making sure everyone enjoys the meal.
Creating an inclusive culture is very different from simply creating a diverse workplace.
A diverse workforce means having a head count of employees from various gender, race, and sexual orientation simply because it looks good on the company’s brochure.
On the other hand, an inclusive culture sheds itself of any unconscious bias in the work environment. Employees feel included irrespective of who they are or as what they identify themselves as.
Related Article: 7 Key Advantages Of Diversity In The Workplace And Why It Matters
5 Steps To Improve Inclusion At The Workplace
The major challenge to inclusion is to build a culture where everyone feels included.
You go through major troubles to bring in diverse talents to your organization. So why not ensure that their employee experience is more than stellar.
Here are 5 noteworthy ways to build an inclusion strategy that actually works.
1. Educate Managers About Inclusion At The Workplace
An organization’s managers are monumental in promoting an inclusive culture.
A manager is most often on the frontline and acts as the bridge between employees and the management. Thus it matters a lot that they know how to handle a diverse workforce.
But here’s the thing. Mis-steps happens. That is why managers need to be educated and trained on how to understand and support all employees and cultivate an inclusive culture.
Recently, Starbucks was plagued by an unseen act of racism that shook the company to its core.
In response, the coffee chain held a mandatory ‘unconscious bias’ training which was attended by roughly 175,000 Starbucks employees. Additionally, it closed almost 8,000 of their stores until the diversity training was completed.
While you don’t need to go to such drastic measures to educate your staff about diversity and inclusion in the work environment, here are some tips that will help:
- Scheduling cultural training, diversity workshops and seek to end unconscious bias by educating employees on the importance of everyone feel included.
- Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the workplace. Look at how inclusive the work environment is. Are there non-gendered washrooms? Are people excluded from projects because they have a different sexual orientation? Do people make veiled comments about gender, race?
- Having an employee feedback system and it’s relevant assessment. Unless you give employees a voice of their own, you’ll never really know what went wrong.
2. Creating Inclusive Culture Through Rethinking Workforce Policies
Building an inclusive culture means that you may need to create new policies or abolishing some previous ones entirely. These policies may range from recruitment to performance management.
Here are some ways to model your company policies for a more diverse workforce:
- Facilitate the hiring process to include candidates from a range of community outreach programs, job fairs, and hiring consultancies. This ensures that you have a variety of diverse talents.
- Women still make only $0.79 for every dollar men make in 2019. Make sure that your company pays employees based on their skills and job title. Gender, race and sexual orientation should not be a part of getting paid less than you deserve.
- Different cultures, different holidays. Make sure your employees get leave for holidays that are not covered in the official company holiday calendar.
3. Communicate Inclusion Goals And Measure Progress
Simply creating inclusive workplace policies isn’t enough. It’s more important to communicate through and communicate your expectations to your workforce.
Employees should feel that they are able to talk to their managers in case they face discrimination of any kind.
In turn, managers should keep their minds open by avoiding any assumptions and making sure that employees feel free to share.
Here are a few ways through which you can create an open communication channel for inclusion concerns:
- Regularly ask for feedback about the employee experience in your organization.
- To ensure that inclusion goals are met, create dedicated diversity panels. Having a diversity panel of members ranging across various departments ensures that the process remains transparent for everyone.
- Not everyone is comfortable speaking up against ongoing discrimination in the workplace. The diversity panel should assist with ongoing efforts to make the work environment free of any unconscious bias.
Related Article: Key Tips To Improve Workplace Communication
4. Celebrate Differences To Make Everyone Feel Included
One of the most significant ways to show that you respect your employees’ culture and traditions is to invite them to do the same in your organization.
Here are some ways through which you can promote inclusiveness at your workplace:
- Potluck lunches where people bring in food that showcases their culture.
Recognize and celebrate days that have significance to other communities such as Black History Month in February, Pride Month in June.
- Ensure that employees of various race, culture, and ethnicities have a say in the decision making process at your organization.
- Every employee carries with themselves the stigma of belonging from a community that faced some kind of discrimination. Make their stories known through an organizational publication where they can voice their opinions, ideas, beliefs, and any experience of prejudice in the organization.
5. Diverse Opportunities For Employee Engagement
Creating an inclusive culture for better employee experience has become a necessity and not just an option.
- If your company has diverse locations, allow employees to visit those locations and experience the work culture around it. This allows employees to have a first-hand opportunity to see for themselves how different cultures pave a different way of doing things.
- Conduct an employee survey and poll what experiences your employee would want to have in order to appreciate the benefits of diversity.
- Assign a diversity mentor from a different community so that the mentee has a better chance to get inspired and look up to someone who would show that in spite of the differences, talent is what actually matters.
The Story’s Not Over
Diversity in an organization leads to better teams, greater innovation, and more efficient decision making. But inclusion is what connects people to the organization and makes them want to stay.
Do you any other more innovative way to make inclusion a integral part of your diverse workforce? Tell us in the comments below.
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