Now more than ever, companies have a responsibility to recognize their employee differences while calling for allyship and embracing authenticity. Any employer without diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives may find themselves left in the dark with high turnover and low morale.
Diversity is having representation across all levels – think of it like a brand-new box of crayons. In that box, all colors are represented. Equity is ensuring everyone has the same opportunity to have their voice heard and gain opportunity. Using our box example, evaluate if the crayons have the same opportunity to be chosen to color, for example. Are some taller or shorter than others, or are there more of one color than another? Inclusion is inviting everyone to the table and providing the tools and resourcing to ensure they feel welcomed. Thinking back to our crayons, are all of the colors in the box? Are they cohabitating peacefully or are they isolated and feel like they are only here because they have to be?
While making inclusivity a priority is the right thing to do and makes us all feel good, inclusive workplace cultures offer far greater benefits than a warm and fuzzy feeling. They are plain good business sense. Deloitte reports that inclusive workplaces are 6X as likely to be innovative and have 2.3X the cash flow per employee over non-inclusive workplaces in a 3-year period.
Organizations can determine if they are fostering an inclusive environment if they have employees who are authentically showing up to work as themselves, from the way they look (hairstyles, wardrobe, accessories), to the participation in events and the banter between colleagues. When employees feel comfortable being themselves without judgement, they will openly engage with their colleagues and share personal information about where they are from, their home life, and common interests. You may also notice stronger direct reporting relationships, as employees who feel comfortable elaborating at work will communicate details of their home life (i.e., sick children, vacations, etc.) to a direct leader.
On the opposite end, if you’ve noticed low employee engagement and a struggle between manager and direct reports, your inclusion may need a refresh.
1. Be Genuine in All Efforts
Before you get started with anything, ensure your leadership team is making a change for the right reasons. Don’t be a bandwagon company, jumping on a trend just to please the masses and save your image. Nobody likes that and ultimately, the shine will wear off. Change because you see there is a problem, and you want to be better in the long run.
2. Lead by Example
Change starts at the top, especially when you are making a change that affects the comfort of your employees. Promoting a climate of authenticity and allyship begins with your leadership team. Hire diverse leaders and encourage those in management to communicate. Transparency is a beautiful tool we can use to show individual contributors our human side. The more your leadership invests in the change, the bigger buy-in you will see from your lower level.
3. Start Focus Groups
Often, it is hard to recognize that we aren’t the only ones in our struggle. Creating a focus group – for example, something aimed at working moms or the Latino community – allows your employees to find a home that they identity with. Ensure these groups are hosted on a secure and private platform where employees can share their inner thoughts and communications privately.
4. Work with an Outside Source
Working with an outside resource – for example a consulting agency or freelancer, provides a safe, non-biased control factor where your employees can turn to as you seek to improve morale. When improving culture, it’s important to remember leadership can easily become the enemy, and you must walk a fine line between leading with humility and knowing when to fold your hand.
Creating an inclusive workplace is truly one of the best business decisions a company can make. When your entire staff works in an environment where everyone feels seen, heard and respected, morale goes up. Happier employees are also more engaged and productive. Making sure your staff feels valued leads to higher employee retention. As many business leaders know, high turnover not only costs more time and money, but it can also negatively affect the overall culture at your place of business.
Do you know that Crimcheck is National Minority Supplier Diversity Council certified (NMSDC) and woman-owned? Learn more about us here.