The unprecedented effects of the global pandemic in today’s modern workforce show how a company’s culture inevitably dictates long-term success. Now more than ever, business leaders are compelled to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of their companies’ agenda to help them build and sustain teams that thrive amidst ever-challenging markets.
Not only can diverse and inclusive workplaces help prevent hostile work environments, but they also enable companies to win the talent war and improve their bottom lines. Studies have shown that diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers, and those that prioritize diversity and inclusivity are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals.
Moreover, diversity and inclusion are crucial to attracting top talent, with younger job seekers looking for diverse and inclusive practices when choosing which company to work for. But what exactly is the difference between diversity and inclusion, and how can companies enforce strategic policies that cultivate them?
Diversity and Inclusion: What’s The Difference?
In its research, Gallup emphasizes that diversity refers to how an organization values differences. It claims that diversity includes elements like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, physical disability, education level, tenure, and the like. Gallup says companies can assess the diversity of their organization by looking at how well the demographics are represented at all levels of the business and in different roles.
Inclusion, meanwhile, refers to the extent to which an organization facilitates belonging and values individual differences. In an inclusive workforce, all employees feel valued, respected, and accepted and are encouraged to use their voices and contribute to the organization.
What are the Steps You Can Take to Make Your Company Diverse and Inclusive?
Here’s how companies can improve diversity and inclusion in their workplaces and create win-win opportunities for all employees, business leaders, and stakeholders.
- Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority from the Get-Go
Business leaders must empower the workforce by example and buy into the idea of diversity and inclusion as agents of change. By establishing diversity and inclusion as some of the core values of the company’s culture, leaders can show everyone that they see varying perspectives and experiences fundamental to the company’s success.
Leaders must go above and beyond and be willing to listen, respect different opinions, and communicate the value of each employee. Change starts from the top. Diversifying a company’s board, for example, will not only improve corporate governance but also lead to more effective decision-making, better crisis management, and enhanced dialogue.
- Acknowledge Biases and Take Steps to Eliminate Them
If left unchecked, unconscious bias in the workplace can have serious financial and reputational consequences. Neglecting stereotypes can negatively impact employees and their ability to succeed in their careers. Plus, without realizing it, biases can cause employees to discriminate against a wide range of people and make troublesome decisions when it comes to recruitment, promotion, and performance management.
The first step to reducing unconscious bias in workplaces is by striving to be more aware of what it is and how it affects your colleagues and the organization as a whole. Holding regular diversity and inclusion training and programs is a proactive approach that can help companies address issues systematically and effectively.
- Promote Diverse and Inclusive Practices in Hiring Processes
It makes good sense for companies to expand the talent pool and recruit, train, and retain a workforce that reflects different ethnicities, genders, races, religions, and the like. This way, business leaders can ensure that employees bring fresh perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table.
Human Resources leaders can cast a wider net with their recruitment efforts by taking concrete steps, such as avoiding gendered language and ensuring that content and job postings do not, in any way, discriminate against anyone.
HR must also see to it that the selection criteria and hiring process are transparent and focus on skills and experience. This way, companies create equal employment opportunities for people of a broader age range and socio-economic status.
- Enforce Zero-Tolerance Policies for Discrimination and Harassment
To encourage a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture, business leaders must set clear standards of what is and what is not acceptable behavior. Zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment demonstrates a company’s commitment to upholding employee’s rights and welfare.
Leaders and HR must see to it that their policies clearly define what zero tolerance means and the steps that management will take to carefully investigate and address reported incidents of discrimination, harassment, and other types of misbehavior. The process must be fair and should treat everyone involved with respect and dignity.
Stakeholders must also see to it all employees understand the anti-discrimination and harassment policies. Have group training sessions to create the best forum for meaningful discussions. Openly talking and educating everyone about these issues makes a greater impact.
- Foster a Sense of Belonging
A sense of belonging in the workplace makes all the difference in building productive, efficient, and motivated teams. According to studies, employees who feel a great sense of belonging at work tend to perform better, take fewer sick days, and are less likely to find a new job.
Simple yet profound gestures can create a workplace environment where all employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. These include prioritizing employee feedback, recognizing them for their unique skills, experiences, and accomplishments, acknowledging and appreciating their contributions in meetings, and providing workers with a safe space to voice their concerns and opinions.
Camaraderie, understanding, and trust are key ingredients of an inclusive environment in which individuality is both noticed and valued. This supportive environment leads to enhanced creativity and better collaboration and problem-solving.
Find Business Success in Fostering Diversity and Inclusivity
Building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture comes with its own set of challenges, but all the hard work pays off when you see its positive effects on productivity, retention, and overall business outcome. With serious commitment and participation at every level of the organization, workplaces can take their diversity and inclusion efforts to new heights and reap all the benefits of innovation and success.
AUTHOR BIO: Viridiana Valdes is an experienced Marketing Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Business Process, Negotiation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Management, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Strong marketing professional with a Strategic Marketing focused in Marketing from Panamerican Consulting Group and Universidad Rafael Landivar.