In today’s world, we are all interconnected, at home, at play, and at work. Workplaces are rightly shifting to accommodate sociocultural differences, understanding the importance and value of welcoming spaces for everyone. Tolerance is non-negotiable, and any company that falls outside of equity is one without much of a future.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion offer more than good optics for your company. When these concepts become a core part of all that you do, you will see benefits in every sphere, from employee engagement to retention to profits. An inclusive, diverse workplace is attractive to talent and to customers alike.
Even understanding the value and importance of D&I, it can be a challenge to put these ideas into practice. An inclusive workplace is not something that pops up on its own. Rather, it must be carefully cultivated and maintained. Instead of a one-time push, D&I is a constant process. It is an effort that requires commitment, resources, and dedication, but it is well worth every investment. With the right strategies and tactics, your company can join the ranks of workplaces that fit in perfectly with our diverse, modern society.
Defining Diversity and Inclusion
To integrate diversity and inclusion into your corporate culture, you first have to understand what these terms mean in a workplace context.
We’ll start with diversity. Here, diversity refers to who is represented in your workplace. A diverse workplace is not homogenous but instead has variety in gender, race, physical ability, orientation, age, and other demographics. You are also looking for diversity in education, personality, skills, experiences, and other non-demographic details of your staff, providing many perspectives and knowledge bases for your company.
Diversity alone does not lead to inclusion, which refers to the way your workforce feels. Even if you have diversity in place, without measures for inclusion, your staff may end up feeling unwanted, unvalued, and unwelcome. When your staff can work in a collaborative, respectful, supportive environment, they are all included.
Together, D&I become not just a corporate strategy or human resources goal, but a concept that impacts your mission, vision, values, and practices to realize the benefits of diversity and inclusion, for each individual staff member, and for your business as a whole.
The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are buzzwords in the corporate world, but there are more advantages to D&I efforts than simply going along with corporate trends.
A Forbes study shows diversity is a key driver of innovation and a critical component of being successful globally. When you have diversity in your workplace, you have a wide array of skillsets, perspectives, and competencies to draw upon. If everyone in your workplace is mostly the same, on the other hand, you may miss out on opportunities now and in the future, from developing new products or services to breaking into new markets. You will also have a much easier time solving problems when you have diversity, as everyone takes a different approach to overcome challenges. Diversity and inclusion directly lead to creativity and innovation.
The same study also finds that diversity and inclusivity are important in attracting and retaining top talent to stay competitive. Using D&I as guiding principles, companies broaden the talent pool, while bolstering the corporate reputation and thus attracting more attention from prospective employees. As for retaining employees, it is simple to see that staff who feel welcome and included are far more likely to stay engaged and happy at work.
According to McKinsey & Company, the proof is in the profits. Looking at their study, companies with the most diversity in their executive levels had returns on equity 53 percent higher than the least diverse, and higher margins on earnings before interest and taxes as well.
There are many advantages to diversity and inclusion in the workforce, and really nothing in the way of disadvantages. The most challenging piece is likely finding a way to put D&I into action, and we are here to help with that!
Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Workplace
There are many ways your company can introduce diversity and inclusion practices, without it having to all be done at once. Even small changes can have large impacts, and with a strong foundation of the building blocks of D&I, your corporate culture will shift.
- Show commitment from the top. Any workplace culture initiatives depend on leadership to set a great example; the top executives and managers in your business need to commit to diversity and inclusion visibly. This means holding meetings in accessible areas, ensuring dietary and religious preferences are met in workplace functions and networking events sponsored by the company, and addressing issues of intolerance or prejudice to show that it is not part of the corporate culture. Leaders should model inclusive language and behavior in all that they do.
Many companies are moving toward creating an official diversity officer, or a similar department or position. A council is also a way to promote D&I, bringing a handful of employees together to influence corporate culture. This shows that the business is truly accountable for its D&I endeavors and that it is a priority that is worth the investment.
- Invest in education and training. When we know better, we do better. In many instances, people simply do not know that they are being intolerant or inequitable. All of us have unconscious biases, stereotypes, and barriers, but education and training help develop the skills needed to overcome.
Education and training also show your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially when leadership is involved in the learning, too.
- Listen to your employees. As the people on the frontlines, your employees have their own experiences and perspectives that are important in creating an inclusive workplace. A diverse workforce means you will be handling a wider variety of needs, and to be truly inclusive of that, you need to have a good understanding of what initiatives will help your staff and prospective team members.
Reach out to employees with meetings, surveys, town halls, and other opportunities for input. At the same time, be sure that the lines of communication are open in your business, so employees can share their perspective and feel heard without fearing any kind of backlash.
- Consider the physical workplace. It is important to promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace practices, of course, and, at the same time, you can create change in your physical space too. Think about the demographics of your workplace, their needs, and how you can be proactively inclusive of more people. Gender-neutral bathrooms, for example, are more inclusive than single-sex rooms.
You can also create spaces that are designed for collaboration and communication. The break room is an excellent place for relationship building, conversation, and collaboration. We are experts in this area, creating break rooms that promote happiness, healthiness, and an overall positive culture.
Get in touch with us online to learn more about how we can help your business become more diverse and more inclusive, or call us at 973-402-1088 to speak with one of our team members.