“Diversity” and “inclusiveness” are terms we frequently encounter today, both in the press and throughout the business world. People have become more conscious of obstacles faced by some individuals in terms of advancing their careers, or even getting their voices heard in significant business discussions. And, more than ever, awareness is heightened about the kind of workplace we all want to have once the dangers of the pandemic have passed.
But, as we have noted before, there are clear business benefits to promoting an inclusive culture within your organisation. These benefits include:
- A greater array of voices and perspectives to help business leaders better understand the target audiences they want to meet
- Reduced workplace conflict as employees gain a deeper recognition of various backgrounds and lifestyles
- Higher and more favourable visibility for businesses seen to be promoting diversity and inclusiveness
So how does a company embark on a more inclusive approach to culture? Here are tips to keep in mind:
Be committed to promoting change.
Not everyone will necessarily understand why a company is committing to a more inclusive culture. That’s why it’s critically important for senior leadership, from the CEO or business owner down, to make a strong commitment to this initiative.
“Commitment” can include public statements, a series of informative emails to staff, employee-based webinars, etc. It also includes making a clear business case for the benefits of the initiative, so that even sceptics can see how this approach will ultimately benefit the entire organisation.
Learn more about what’s on your employees’ minds at the moment.
Some call it a “listening tour,” borrowed from what candidates for political office sometimes do. (This is a good idea for senior leadership, whether or not the key issue is diversity and inclusiveness, or some other important issue.)
According to Forbes, a listening tour can include “facilitated workshops, one-to-one meetings, anonymous employee surveys or utilising crowd-sourcing.” The objective is to acquire “a clear, honest and transparent view of what working at the organisation is like from those on the ground—whether positive, indifferent or negative.”
Incorporate inclusive behaviour in employee policies.
Employees will better grasp your commitment to an inclusive culture if it’s codified within your company policies. One approach may be to appoint a small diverse group of employees to help generate “a list of inclusive behaviours tied to your organisation’s values so your employees know what being inclusive actually looks like,” notes Justworks. For this to work, it’s vital that “everyone from the top to middle management to entry-level employees” have input into these policies.
Don’t try to change everything at once.
Well-meaning business leaders may want to drastically overhaul a company culture all at once in order to achieve the desired goal as soon as possible. Most often, experts say, such an approach is likely to fail.
Instead, says LinkedIn’s Talent Blog, consider implementing “one or two initiatives that promote diversity and awareness,” and see where that leads. Trying to do too much at once “can be overwhelming and miss the intent of authentically connecting your employees with opportunities to grow.”
A key factor to keep in mind is that embracing inclusiveness isn’t about jumping on a corporate bandwagon that offers little by way of actual benefits. On the contrary, as Forbes notes, an inclusive company is twice as likely to move beyond financial goals, “six times more likely to be agile and innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.”