Diversity and inclusion in the workplace add a variety of benefits to any organization. From increasing your talent pool to making better, more informed decisions, diversity and inclusion is proven to increase trust, engagement, and even profits at companies.
Adding diverse and inclusive policies to your company isn’t one size fits all advice. You can’t replicate it from company to company. So when thinking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you can’t just check boxes. These policies are organically developed over time, integrating the values into your mission and vision and working them into your company culture and brand.
Diversity and inclusion are not one and the same- they are two sides of the same coin. Diversity can come in many forms: race, gender, economic background, ability and sexuality, and sometimes even family composition, lifestyles, personalities and age. Inclusion is those diverse individuals feeling represented, safe, and heard. You can cultivate a diverse space through hiring, but hiring alone won’t make your space diverse or inclusive; diversity programs need to be developed to also promote and retain diverse employees- that only happens if your space is inclusive.
Here are some of the ways to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The best way to create an inclusive space is to educate all members of staff to observe unconscious biases and create awareness of issues of diversity and inclusion. At the beginning, everyone has to learn how to be an ally to everyone, and understand the social pressures that underrepresented groups face.
In order to stay relevant and up to date in a quickly changing world, regular trainings and education events will create company wide awareness. All levels of leadership, from C-Suite to middle management, should also remain actively involved; this sets the tone and the standard for all employees and company culture.
Companies sometimes think that to “keep the peace,” you have to avoid hard conversations. Not only are we passed the point where complacency is acceptable, not having these conversations is actually what causes a rift.
Employees should always feel heard, comfortable, and free to voice their opinions. These types of conversations require vulnerability and transparency, therefore a company-wide culture of individuality and acceptance.
Create a space where all staff, whether leadership or employees, is comfortable celebrate culture and individuality at workplace. Here are some of the ways companies are creating this kind of culture:
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace requires your leadership, HR, and employees to all be committed purposefully to these values. One of the first steps to allyship is knowing, and admitting, your unconscious biases. This is not a perfect process for anyone, on an individual or company-wide level.
In order to help the process along, be as honest as you can about your goals, progress and shortcomings. Where do you plan to continue to grow? What else can we think of? It may seem intuitive, but in order for your space to be inclusive, you have to include everyone, even on internal matters.
Staying dedicated and open to progress is essential. And including your employees will help you be more aware than you could be alone. Your employees might be aware of shortcomings that may have been overlooked. Knowing the goals, progress and how these practices effect company and brand will keep everyone engaged.
During these conversations, HR should carefully develop clear guidelines and policies surrounding diversity and inclusion. Once developed, it is essential that any violators, regardless of position or status, face clear consequences.
Hold everyone to the same standard and keep everyone engaged and educated. This helps everyone remain dedicated to the values and mission of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
In order to create a genuinely diverse and inclusive space, you have to create policies and guidelines that apply your mission and purpose to diverse and inclusive practices.
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