Imagine a workplace where every single person looks, acts, talks, and behaves the exact same. Absurd and boring, right?
That’s how your workplace would look without Diversity and Inclusion. A diverse workforce is one where people from different races, ages, nationalities, languages, orientations, gender, and viewpoints work together.
Diversity looks pretty. You’ve got dynamic people, multiple perspectives, better decision making, more creative problem solving, thus, higher productivity and retention. Companies are willing to go above and beyond to hire diverse people who represent different perspectives.
However, the real and often (underdog) question is inclusivity. How able and willing are companies to make their workforce feel included? Employees feel safe to voice their opinions? They feel empowered?
The D&I goes hand in hand. If you hire smart, you have to retain them smartly. An important aspect here is the understanding that diversity doesn’t always mean inclusivity.
Making diversity a priority is essential, but so is the next logical step: creating a culture where people from all backgrounds feel included. Inclusivity is the key to actually maintaining (not just creating) diversity in the workplace.
Most Common Types of Diversity at Workplace
- Physical abilities
- Sexual orientation
Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
1. Cognitive Diversity
Cognitive diversity is defined as diversity in opinions, world views, beliefs, values, and problem-solving. It’s the diversity of the mind or intellect. People from different perspectives may see threats or solutions which others have missed.
A study found that cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20% and reduce risks taken by up to 30%. Cognitive diversity can lead to better decision-making. It broadens your mental horizon.
2. Power of Respect
Respect is one of the most critical forms of inclusion. Encouarging employees to truly respect each other would ultimately reflect your and the organization’s character. It lets you express yourself better, therefore, improving communication and reducing stress.
Clarifying pronouns during the recruitment process and onboarding emails can be the first step towards building the pillar of respect.
3. (+) Joy & (-) Fear
People are wired to react with fear and distrust when their beliefs are challenged. While fear can be a powerful motivator, it also encourages people to narrow their perspective — the opposite desired effect for creating a more inclusive workplace.
You can start by understanding where precisely the areas of fear lie by anonymous pulsing and then focus training on those areas. An excellent way to reduce fear can be by a diversity pledge tree that can be celebrated or a story-telling session with diversity. This would allow a feeling of mutual solidarity and resolve internal biases.
4. Say Hi to Diverse Hiring
Hiring is the strongest step towards creating a pool of diverse employees. Diversity in hiring can be improved by setting small but measurable goals such as increasing female software engineers by 15% in 6 months.
Recruiters should make sure the job posting is bias-free without any hint of gender biases such as ‘He should be good at coding’ instead of ‘the candidate.’
A full two-thirds (67 percent) of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Thus, advocating that the company believes in equal opportunity can elevate the overall candidate experience.
A video testimonial from employees from different backgrounds on the company website or career page can help increase trust and belief that your brand truly cares about diversity.
One of the biggest boons of diversity is the innovation it brings in. A 2018 Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.
Diverse teams are in a better position to unlock innovation and out-of-the-box perspectives. Differences among team members force each person to anticipate that there will be alternative and unexpected viewpoints to consider and evaluate.
Communication can be a challenge, but the result would undoubtedly be valuable. McKinsey’s report claimed that a gender-diverse company can outperform a company with little to no diversity by almost 48%.
How to Increase Inclusivity?
Education starts from within. Companies should train managers and employees to identify and tackle ‘unconscious bias’. Unconscious bias is social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their consciousness due to socialization, media, and cultural influences.
The unconscious nature makes these biases dangerous. Thus, understanding, being aware, and coming to terms with it should be the first step to get out of the bias loop.
For example: When someone says teacher, a ‘woman’ with spectacles and a stern face comes into view, right? or when I say manager, a man in a business suit with a charming smile is the first image that pops into our mind. This is because we are exposed to these images and information since pre-school.
Thus, our brain is wired to associate in that particular manner. Thus, you may unconsciously look for a female in a job posting for a teacher and a male for a manager. Being aware of these thoughts and associations can help you not to succumb to them.
Simply formulating diversity policies is not the end. To execute it and make the workplace inclusive is the real game-changer. Thus, communicating the policy, goal expectations to employees can help reduce discrimination in the employees’ minds and help reduce unconscious bias and managers’ assumptions.
Feedback through pulse surveys can play a vital role in enhancing communication. It can be kept anonymous, it focuses on ‘what’ instead of the ‘who’. Its short length and frequency can make the results more trackable.
Celebrating differences can go a long way to teach a feeling of pride and respect for all cultures and traditions. This can be done via hosting a potluck meal, encouraging employees to share festival traditions via photos or capture experience via videos, and (with permission) share it at the workplace to make employees feel welcomed, respected, and celebrated.
Encouraging anecdotes can help knowledge transfer and help reduce biases. If you see an employee going out of the way to respect their diversely different peers’ customs and needs, be sure to appreciate their efforts publicly.
At Springworks, we often celebrate days of significance to other communities by hosting a quiz about the festival on Trivia on Slack. This encourages participation and builds awareness.
How Does EngageWith Pulse Survey Help?
- The EngageWith pulse survey is curated to measure specific types of diversity and inclusion in the organization. This includes religion, age, race etc.
- Pulsing approaches lesser- focused but prominently found constructs such as language barriers, ageism, bystander effect, etc.
- The pulse feedback can be deployed on pre-training vs post-training to capture data that is measurable against a baseline.
- EngageWith pulsing keeps in mind the diversity goals of the organization, aspects of psychological safety, and unconscious bias. Thus, it attempts to uncover biases in employees. This data can help formulate diversity goals and educate for inclusivity.
- It allows for better employee experience by highlighting which experiences of diversity do employees prefer. This, in turn, improves communication and employee engagement.
- Diversity and Inclusivity is a sensitive topic. Pulse surveys allow suggestions/ feedback etc which can be kept anonymous. This can help employees voice out and notice incidents or experiences that are sensitive, with more comfort. It also allows focusing on ‘what’ rather than ‘who.’
Andres Tapia rightly said, ” Diversity is the mix. Inclusivity is making that mix work.” At the end of the day, it’s people who make you leave or stay- make your organization a place worth staying.
No one is truly free until we all are free.