Diversity, equity, and inclusion (otherwise known as DE&I) have been at the forefront of many talent leaders minds in the last several years. Diversity in the workplace includes traits and characteristics that make people unique; this includes different ages, genders, and races in your organization. Inclusivity refers to what makes people feel included, valued, and welcomed in the environment. Inclusivity enables a sense of belonging in the work culture.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers
A strong diversity and inclusion strategy is becoming critical for company success. It helps organizations attract top talent. DE&I strategies and programs can also make a workplace more innovative as there is an increase in ideas, strategies, and perspectives. Research has shown that highly inclusive companies are more likely to hit financial targets by up to 120%. This is due to employees feeling more engaged with their work and also comfortable enough to collaborate on ideas with peers to meet company goals more efficiently.
Below we list a few ways to create and improve inclusivity in the workplace.
1) Ensure an inclusive corporate culture
Corporate culture are the values and behaviors that determine how employees interact and handle themselves. A positive corporate culture is vital for any organization – it is often what attracts top talent and retains employees. About 15% of job seekers will turn down a position because the company culture is not right for them. Inclusivity in most companies is a big part of a corporate culture – what employee wants to work in an organization that does not make them feel included? To that end, organizations should be actively trying to make their employees feel comfortable and valued. Organization’s can also showcase their commitment to inclusivity from the get-go in the hiring process – make sure candidates know what your culture looks like and emphasize that DE&I is something that the company values and is actively working to improve constantly.
2) Educate employees
When it comes to creating an inclusive workplace, you have to start at the top. CEOs, HR leaders, and managers need to prioritize inclusivity. Education on the importance of DE&I is the first step to ensure that every leader is on the same page. Workshops on how to engage all team members, how to model inclusivity, using inclusive language, and how to respond when employees see their team members being non-inclusive can help build more inclusive leaders and workplaces.
Remember that an inclusive workplace increases the chances your employees are happier, and happy employees are productive employees. According to Harvard Business Review, employees with inclusive managers are 1.3 times more likely to tap into their innovative potential. Simply put, creating inclusivity is good for your workplace and your business.
3) Celebrate employee successes and differences
Employee recognition is crucial to inclusivity. In order for employees to begin feeling valued and engaged at work, managers should say ‘thank you’ more often and recognize & value employee differences. 58% of employees say that employee recognition is how leaders can improve employee engagement. Whether managers publicly acknowledge good work and celebrate differences or privately say ‘thank you’, this simple and positive form of feedback can encourage employees to keep up their hard work and make them feel like an important member of the team. Find out more details on the power of employee recognition in our previous article!
4) Implement continuous feedback
Annual performance reviews can be an important part of assessing performance; however, if your organization is only using the annual reviews to make talent and training decisions, you should be worried. An increase in biases can occur with once-a-year reviews and often these workplace biases are unconscious.
Biased reviews can cause disengagement and often lead to resentment. Continuous feedback can decrease the chance of bias (particularly recency or halo biases), and create a more equitable performance management process. Continuous feedback also allows managers to acknowledge and mitigate any negative behaviors/patterns. Besides creating a more equitable performance management process, continuous feedback is something employees want! Around 28% of employees report that feedback is not frequent enough to help them understand how to improve. By having continuous feedback, employees can build a more open and trusting relationship with their employer, reduce biases, and help increase the feeling of connectedness in the workplace.
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