International Women’s day, Black History month, World Braille day...acknowledging and celebrating diversity is nothing new. However, workplaces are finally starting to realize the benefits of diversifying their workforce, and rightly so. Diversity has been shown to benefit organizations through increased innovation, increased revenue, and greater adaptability.
Diversifying involves creating a workforce comprised of a wide variety of people; a mix of cultures, genders, ages, abilities, sexualities, backgrounds, etc. Establishing diversity in the workplace is an important first step, but can only be harnessed appropriately if there is a strong culture of inclusion as well. “An inclusive workplace makes diverse employees feel valued, welcome, integrated and included in the workforce”. How can organizations create inclusive workspaces that will not only foster a culture of care and respect, but naturally produce better results?
Leadership Diversifying the employees in leadership roles has not only been shown to increase revenue, but can create a trickle down effect that benefits overall work culture. However, that’s not to say companies should fire competent managers just to replace them with more diverse candidates. Simply providing proper inclusivity training for management can create a world of difference. A study by Deloitte shows that an increase of just 10% of employee perceptions of inclusion results in about one day per year less absenteeism.
Inclusive decision making Decision making is crucial for businesses to succeed. In fact, one study suggests that decision making is 95% correlated with company performance, and that diversity in decision making leads to better decisions up to 87% of the time. Not only does inclusive decision making lead to a variety of opinions and ideas (and therefore a more robust conclusion), but the team executing the decision is often made up of diverse individuals. By including diversity in the decision making process, these teams feel more ownership towards the decision and are more likely to execute successfully. Be sure to maintain transparency when communicating decision making; providing the who, what, why, and how of a decision allows for better understanding and acceptance of the decision.
Identify gaps In order to be fully inclusive, an organization must first recognize who is and is not represented, and what their needs are. Is there any group who’s voice is going unheard, either through a lack of representation or a lack of inclusion? Only by knowing where the inclusivity gaps are can a company begin to address them.
Keep at it Of course, systematic changes don’t happen overnight. Small changes can continuously be made to improve how an organization receives a diverse workforce. In addition to action, training should be an ongoing process, and organizations should implement an open-door policy regarding inclusivity discussion as well as a zero-tolerance policy towards behaviour that would cause employees to feel unsafe or disrespected.