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Diversity and Inclusion efforts are essential for developing a strong company culture and encouraging growth. However, according to McKinsey & Company (a company specializing in diversity and inclusivity), many companies are falling behind when it comes to D&I. More than ever, it is vital for businesses to focus on improving their D&I efforts to ensure success on many different fronts, including financial success and employee retention.
Diversity refers to the unique traits that make us individuals. A diverse workplace will include people from various ethnic and cultural groups and genders taking on important roles at all company levels.
Inclusion refers to the actions and behaviors that ensure the people around us feel comfortable and welcome. An inclusive workplace will have a culture of acceptance and encouragement, welcoming and celebrating differences among its employees.
Studies show that workplaces have higher productivity and retention across the board when the culture emphasizes diversity and inclusion. Fostering an atmosphere of acceptance means you are attracting the most applicants for the jobs you want to fill, and it means that the people you hire feel safe and will stay with your company longer.
In 2019, McKinsey & Company found that there was a business argument to be made for D&I efforts. Their studies show companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to outperform businesses in the lower quartile financially, and companies in the top quartile for ethnic & cultural diversity were 36% more likely to outpace those in the lower quartile financially.
McKinsey & Company encourages companies to start creating a more inclusive culture by ensuring the representation of diverse talent. This is accomplished by building “a business case for diversity that prioritizes the organization’s needs” and focusing on providing opportunities for advancement for diverse talent.
The next step is to make leadership accountable by defining “inclusive leadership as a core competency [...] specified in job descriptions, assessed in job performance reviews, supported by capability-building, and role-modeled by leaders and managers.”
From there, the day-to-day process for creating an inclusive workplace can look different from company to company. But a few things stand out as best practices, including focusing on efforts that increase communication, collaboration, and encouragement.
Increase Support & Recognition Among Colleagues
According to an article in Forbes, you should move beyond a top-down approach to recognition and encourage everyone to recognize their coworkers. There are many solutions, like Bonusly, that enable employees to recognize and build up each other.
Make Use of Education & Training
Classes that focus on sensitivity and inclusion are essential. These classes teach the people in your organization how to talk about sensitive subjects and help them feel comfortable discussing the type of changes they’d like to see in their workplace.
Also, inclusivity and sensitivity training sessions can help leadership understand and address bias in their decision-making.
Provide Safe Spaces for All
These spaces include places like breastfeeding rooms for mothers, quiet booths for people with auditory sensitivities, and meditation/universal prayer rooms. Encourage people to openly discuss the spaces that will make them more comfortable at work and to let HR or managers know when their needs are not being met.
Encourage Discussion Across the Board
The most important thing you can do is encourage honest and open discussion. You want to hear from your employees about what changes they think would make the workplace more comfortable and accepting. This kind of supportive and open dialogue can go a long way in improving all aspects of your business, so it’s vital to make this a cornerstone when establishing or redefining company values.
In the end, when it comes to creating a more inclusive workplace, focus on building a culture based on communication, collaboration, and encouragement. Look for unique and authentic ways your company can provide resources or support for your employees so that each one of them looks forward to coming to work and bringing their all. What you’ll find is that by focusing on D&I, you’ve created a more productive and stable workforce, and your business will thrive more than ever.
Click the link below for a D&I Tipsheet.
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