Implementing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a priority in the business world for organizational success. Employers must know its importance and how it helps workplaces become great places to work.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has created a lot of buzz in the corporate world. Many global companies are focusing on being diverse and inclusive by implementing D&I policies. It’s time for you to implement such strategies if you haven’t.
Now is the time to realize the importance of diversity and inclusion. It acts as a driving force of growth, revenue, and profit. Promoting workplace equity provides equal opportunities, enhancing the overall employee experience.
So, in this article, we will discuss the importance and ways to improve diversity and inclusion to nurture an equitable workplace culture to achieve organizational success. Let’s begin with what it means.
What Are Diversity and Inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion provide equal and fair opportunities and recognition to every worker irrespective of their gender, caste, race, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and every other minority. Employers can do this with the help of D&I strategies, policies, and training to encourage workplace inclusivity and attract a diverse pool of talent.
Gallup defines ‘diversity’ as the “full spectrum of human differences.” It refers to peoples’ unique identities like gender, sexuality, religion, age, caste, race, ethnicity, disability, and much more.
When your workforce comprises employees from all sorts of unprivileged backgrounds, it is referred to as diversity in the workplace.
Even though diversity and inclusion are interconnected, they are not the same.
Inclusion in the workplace means making every employee feel included and giving them equal and fair opportunities in the team. An inclusive workplace respects, values, and hears every employee irrespective of their diversity. Doing so leads to innovation, enhanced company culture, and increased employee engagement.
Importance and Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion
After incorporating D&I in their approach, companies and organizations have witnessed positive employee engagement, employee retention, innovation, and revenue.
Here are the many benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
1. Experience higher employee engagement
An ultimate benefit that is important for any organization to succeed. When your workers feel valued and included, they will automatically show higher levels of employee engagement in the company.
When employees know they won’t be discriminated against for their identities and would receive equal rewards and recognition merely based on their performance, they will actively participate in company activities and help you cultivate a great workplace culture.
2. Results in higher innovation
Diverse people come from various backgrounds and lived experiences. As a result, you will get to see fresh ideas and creative solutions in your company meetings and problems.
New ideas and perspectives lead to higher innovation and enhance team communication, eradicating prejudices.
3. Helps increase revenue and profits
Implementation of diversity and inclusion will bring you many tangible profits, even in the form of revenue.
When there is an increase in employee engagement, productivity, retention rates, and innovation, revenue will increase. Usually, companies that value their employees’ rights always experience higher finance and profits.
4. Leads to better decision making
When you hire people from diverse backgrounds, you get to hear stories, experiences, and perspectives from various voices. Thus, you have the privilege and opportunity to think and perceive from many angles to help you in your decision-making process.
5. Experience higher employee retention
In our opinion, companies that embrace a diverse and inclusive work culture experience reduced employee turnover and relatively higher employee retention rates.
Naturally, when you support equality and human rights in the workplace, your culture will spread. New candidates would want to join you. And when you have an inclusive culture, your existing employees wouldn’t want to leave.
Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Ensuring and practicing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a significant part of a company’s growth and overall development.
Hence, you must take the necessary steps to improve diversity and inclusion to ensure you nurture an equitable workplace culture. Here are the essential steps:
1. Educate People in Leadership Positions
Educating your senior officials about diversity and inclusion is crucial to ensure sensible and discrimination-free workplace proceedings. Leaders must consider inclusion at work, and hence, leaders must align their leadership styles with workplace inclusion strategies to nurture an equitable workplace. When you have managers with no prejudices, you make everyone feel included.
2. Set Up a Council
You must set up a D&I council, and it should be diverse as possible. Make sure you have representatives from all sorts of minorities who belong to various genders, sexuality, age, races, ethnicities, religions, and much more. Doing so, you’ll start pursuing things from multiple perspectives and shape unbiased opinions.
3. Focus on Hiring Diversely
Diversity begins right from the hiring stage. You must focus on recruiting people from various underrepresented groups and not only the privileged ones. Diversity and inclusion is a choice and not something that happens by chance. Consider hiring more women, racial minorities, black women, LGBTQIA folks, and religiously diverse candidates.
4. Replace Culture Fit with Culture Add
A Culture Fit approach focuses on familiarity, encouraging more of what is already working. On the other hand, a Culture Add approach focuses on welcoming new voices and talents that will positively impact the company culture. With the Culture Add mindset, both employers and employees can address their own unintended and unconscious biases that come into play while making decisions.
5. Connect and Communicate
Diversity is not synonymous with inclusion. Your workforce might be diverse, but it can lack inclusivity due to a lack of communication and engagement. You must make yourself accessible to your team and encourage team communication to understand each other on a personal level. Practicing and incorporating diversity and inclusion values through constant communication is important for the smooth functioning of remote working situations.
6. Diversity and Inclusion Training
Diversity and inclusion training is a must for every employee in your company. This is the best way to educate your workers about various genders, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and every person who belongs to underprivileged backgrounds. Such training brings awareness to the workplace.
7. Encourage and Enable Creativity and Inclusion
A diverse workforce attracts creativity and innovation in the workplace. As an employer, you must encourage workers to bring out their best creativity and innovation. When they bring in their cultural values to work there is an exchange of diverse dialogue, fostering appreciation and recognition, acceptance, and tolerance.
8. Keep a Check on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
The best way to measure if a company’s D&I strategies are effective is by measuring metrics like employee productivity, employee morale, and employee engagement. These metrics should clearly show how accepted, appreciated, and welcome employees feel in their organizations.
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.
Employees are the fuel and driving force of any organization. They have the right and tremendous power to hold their employers accountable and ask them about the latter’s steps to make a diverse workplace inclusive.
Diversity and inclusion must become your priority for enhanced productivity, engagement, and employee satisfaction. Ensuring a workplace that is harassment and discrimination-free fosters trust, loyalty, and equality in the workplace.
This guest post is written by Anjan Pathak. He’s the Co-Founder & CTO of Vantage Circle, a cloud-based employee engagement platform. He is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness, and actively participates in corporate culture growth. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated on the latest know-how of Human Resources.