The beauty of diversity.
If we define ourselves too much by who we are and what we believe in, we might be building walls and they might become barriers to knowing others deeply. Conversely, what we wish is to leverage on our uniqueness to stimulate curiosity, learning and collaboration.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are common in global organisations these days. Starting out as an initial corporate trend, it has grown to be an important business fundamental for global organisations. This concept has continued to gain traction in the business world especially in recent years as its benefits have become a critical deciding factor for employees in choosing their employer.
D&I is more than just manpower, policies and programmes etc. Equitable employers outpace their competitors by respecting the individual unique needs, perspectives and potential of their employees. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and higher commitment from their employees.
So what is diversity and inclusion? Diversity is about the representation of an entity – in short, the genetic makeup of an organisation. Inclusion is about how well the contributions, perspectives and presence of different groups of people are valued and integrated into an environment.
What Makes A Diverse And Inclusive Workplace?
A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of their identity or role in the organization, feel equally involved and supported in all areas of the workplace. Here are some questions that you can ponder about what is true D&I in the workplace:
- Do you have diversity in your recruitment in every of your departments and in your leadership?
- Do you have a workplace where 50% of your employees are women but yet none of them are in the managerial role?
- Do you have a good mix of employees of colour overall but all of them are in the same department?
Why Is Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace Important?
Studies have shown that there are many benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Some of them include:
- Higher business growth
- Greater innovation
- Higher employee retention rates
Inclusion is one key factor to retention in the workplace. When employees feel that their contributions, ideas or presence are not truly valued by their organisation, they will eventually leave.
Studies on company culture show that when employees trust that they and their colleagues will be treated fairly regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation, they are:
- 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work
- 6.3 times more likely to take pride in their work
- 5.4 times more likely to want to stay for a long time in the company
Having an inclusive workplace will not only help you attract a diverse pool of talents but will also help you retain the diverse talent you attracted in the first place.
How To Foster Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace?
There are many ways to foster D&I in the workplace. Here are 6 of the best practices to get you started:
1. Establish a sense of belonging for everyone
For each individual to realize his/ her full potential, a sense of belonging must first be established in the workplace. Having a connection to a group of people or an organisation that makes you feel you can truly be yourself will often result in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace.
However, these changes take time and there is a “no one size fits all” approach. The most important thing to focus is on diversity and inclusion as well as being open to different methods or ways to make sure these two components succeed because they are interconnected to business growth in the long run.
2. Empathetic leadership is key
D&I needs to be an organisational effort instead of being a single initiative owned exclusively by Human Resources (HR). For real and positive change to happen, every individual leader needs to believe in the value of belonging, both intellectually and emotionally. Only when the entire C-suite steps up to its own diversity and inclusion will a company’s D&I practices thrive.
Part of this process requires the leadership tuning in to empathy and the best way to practice is to remember the time when they were excluded, interrupted or humiliated and etc so they can apply those lessons outwardly. When they can feel it themselves, they will be able to identify with that negative feeling and how it is so important to encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
3. Every individual employee is involved
It must not only be a top down approach but an important part of the company culture which every individual employee sees and understands that D&I is of utmost importance to the organisation.
This also means identifying differences in employee experience and values across the organisation so that change can be made relevant for each individual and knowing that lasting change can only be achieved by activating different parts of the system in different ways – from frontline employees to the middle management and beyond.
4. Adapt your processes
How to best encourage diversity and inclusion permanently is to adapt and create conditions in your processes so that this happens on a daily basis – from sourcing to recruitment and to hiring, onboarding and even the daily aspects of work, performance reviews, team-building etc.
When processes are adapted, some guiding questions as to whether D&I is truly implemented include:
- Who is invited and who gets to speak as well as how often?
- Have the conditions been created so everyone can give their input or contribute in a meaningful way while feeling safe and secure doing that?
- Are you leaving out anyone whose input might prove valuable?
It also means recognizing and understanding how your teams work best, even with tension and discord. Obviously, things cannot escalate into personal attacks, we must recognise the difference between a healthy stimulating exchange of ideas and dynamics and a situation where people are being disrespectful because of who another person is.
5. Focus on helping individuals thrive
The usual societal norms can become embedded in an organisation – optimized only to hire, train and reward people who “fit”. This is dangerous because it can exclude other possible equally talented employees.
You have to first identify and put into practice your organisational values, mission and purpose and then derive the perfect “fit” from there. Defining the “fit” to your organisation values mission and purpose is important to creating optimal diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Creating a culture where every employee can maximize their fullest potential requires investigating the systems and processes in your organisation to uncover blind spots and using ways to recreate them to encourage diversity and inclusion.
6. Weave it into your brand
Brand and culture are intimately connected in any transformation effort. Your culture, values and bias are reflected in the products and/ or services you put into the world.
When it comes to the journey of building diversity and inclusion in your organisation, it is imperative to consider between what is happening inside and what is happening outside your company.
Things like “What is your brand saying about your company culture?” and “What experiences are being left out or being prioritized of lower importance?”. D&I is not just about organisational culture but also about how the company and every individual operates in communicating and contributing in the world.
In summary, when it comes to the greater scheme of things – we are fellow human beings who are connected by kindness, compassion, ideas and energy. Diversity and inclusion are crucial to building meaningful relationships and organisational growth. When these two elements come together, growth happens naturally!
Do you want to know how to build diversity and inclusion in your organisation, recreate your business processes as well as increase business growth? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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