Running Your Business

How to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion can boost business profits by as much as 33% over competitors

  • All organizations should have a written diversity and inclusion policy for employees to review

  • 78% of workers want to work in an environment where all employees are treated equally

Posted by May 31, 2019

In order for companies to attract and retain top talent, the key is diversity, diversity, and diversity. Especially in the eyes of millennials, a group of social justice warriors who place a high value on experiences with a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Millennials make up the majority of today’s workforce—by 2020, they’ll make up one in three adults in the American workforce—but they’re not the only ones who crave a workforce comprised of different walks of life, where everyone is treated equally. According to HR Dive, 78% of employees say working somewhere that promotes equality across different genders, ages, races, religions, disabilities and sexual orientations is important.

And according to that same survey, more than 50% of workers feel as if their employers aren’t doing enough to promote diversity in the workplace. So what can your business do to show potential hires and your current staff that inclusivity is a priority? It starts with creating a culture of inclusion, which will then carry over into several key changes.

Why Prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion Is Key

Promoting diversity isn’t just good for workplace morale, it’s good for business in general. According to a McKinsey & Company report, companies with gender diversity in their executive-level staff were 21% more likely to outperform competitors. Additionally, they noted that companies with “ethnically diverse” executive teams were 33% more likely to be more profitable.

But before you can hire a diverse workforce and promote them to executive levels, your company must first foster a culture of inclusion that respects all groups of people. Having diversity and inclusion as part of your company’s core values is a great way to make sure your employees treat one another with respect and fairness—you’re also more likely to attract socially conscious workers this way.

Having a diversity and inclusion officer on your team (or consulting with one) is also a good way to identify any potential problem areas and get help when an issue comes up. This expert can help you eliminate sources of bias when building your inclusive workplace, through conscious and consistent efforts. From looking at recruitment practices, performance management and how your staff works together on a daily basis, they can help you note any signs of uninclusive behavior in your workforce and offer ways to eliminate it going forward.

Additionally, every company should have a written diversity and inclusion policy, which all employees pledge their commitment to.

Office Updates to Promote an Inclusive Workplace

An inclusive workplace should be a collaborative environment where everyone can share their thoughts, ideas and resources. In order for everyone’s voice to shine, your office may need to make special accommodations.

This may start with reconsidering your office’s layout. Just because your whole IT staff has always set up shop in a remote wing of the building doesn’t mean it’s the right locale for everyone in that department. Some people may need more light to thrive, and for others the mix of noisy coworkers could be detrimental to their mental health. Routinely check the pulse for how your employees are feeling about their workspace, and give room for feedback on what you can do to make everyone as comfortable and happy as possible.

You’ll also want to make sure everyone is heard in meetings, too. While the traditional meeting format of a podium works well for some people, it may not be suitable for all. Consider different meeting styles where a mic is passed around or where people can dial in from their laptops remotely. Sometimes more dominant personalities can steamroll others in these settings, but quieter employees may have great insights to add. So do what you can to make sure everyone is part of the conversation.

Fostering a Workplace for All

Depending on where your company is at now, developing a culture of diversity and inclusion may take some time to develop. You can monitor how far your workforce has come periodically with a diversity and inclusion audit. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), this is done through a four-step process, which includes:

  • Setting a goal: Before anything is done, having a goal and purpose is key. For instance, what is it that you wish to find out, and how often should future audits be conducted?
  • Picking a team: Your audit team should be diverse. Make sure employees of all different levels and backgrounds are chosen for the task.
  • Developing and distributing a questionnaire: This form should cover key topics like how does management prioritize inclusion, whether or not your company promotes diversity, and how matters of bias are addressed. Anonymity is crucial here, as you want to get the most accurate results possible.
  • Next steps: Audit teams must put the results into action—and be on the same page when doing so. Additionally, any process changes should not be done in a way which singles out anyone for their response. Trust here, and in every stage of the audit, is priority number one.

Internally, you should also listen to what employees are saying about how they perceive the organization. Conduct frequent diversity and inclusion training of management and employees, and, if possible, consult with new hires and remote workers to see if they are experiencing inclusion and acceptance from peers. Be careful not to put anyone on the spot, as these issues are extremely sensitive. Make them feel comfortable enough to discuss, and if they don’t wish to, don’t push it.

Hiring from a diverse pool of candidates will not solve your inclusion problem alone. Workplaces must make efforts to ensure everyone feels valued, address negative treatment as it happens, and help employees find a common ground from which to thrive.

When looking to attract and retain a more diverse population of employees, remember that benefits are important, too. Take the time to review the Dental Plan Navigator on United Concordia Dental’s website to compare and contrast different benefit plans.

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