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How to Establish a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

In our last post, we discussed the importance of valuing workplace diversity and inclusion. The term "workplace diversity" has been in use for some time, but "workplace inclusivity" can have some of us scratching our heads. While diversity introduces variety to your team, an inclusive work environment is one that allows employees to truly be themselves.

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You might think: people can always be themselves in our office, but there are often instances where an employee feels uncomfortable revealing certain information about themselves. Situations all too common in the office: a woman eliminates family photos from her desk to avoid seeming "serious" about her job, or a man takes vacation time for doctor's appointments to avoid indicating he's working through some mental health issues. These are only a couple examples, but "identity covering" is a frequent tactic in the workplace. A Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion resport found that 61% of employees "cover" at work, meaning they aren't necessarily hiding something, but may be downplaying it in fear of attracting unwanted attention.

How to create a diverse and inclusive workspace? We'll get you started.

Share your story and be available for theirs.

When struggling at work or outside of work, open up about it. Talk about your life. Be honest about what you did over the weekend, and ask the same of your team. Revealing bits of your personal life displays openness and vulnerability, allowing your employees to feel welcome and free from judgment. Don't hide pieces of yourself, and you can expect the same from them.

Create a path for advancement.

In a diverse workplace, not all employees have informal networks among their superiors. It's important to have a path in place for someone to move up the ranks with achievements and recognition.

Establish diversity and inclusion programs.

If your team is large enough, creating joinable groups to unite people across the company can be a great way to allow space for discussion and incorporate feedback processes to larger topics. Consider the wheelchair-friendliness of your office, and give thought to perhaps adding gender-neutral restrooms. Evaluate the diversity of leadership at your organization. Involving your employees in the design and implementation of any further diversity or inclusion programs ensures future efforts are time well spent.

Be intentional about meetings.

Who is running your team meetings? How diverse are your project teams? Eliminating a day-to-day bias is the first stage of creating an inclusive environment. Being aware of meeting and team composition is important.

Categorize your numbers.

Employee satisfaction surveys and focus groups show your intentions are in the right place, but you shouldn't let above average reviews make you complacent. Statistically, the majority's views will overpower that of the minority, so take a look at the data separated into smaller categories. A great example is a Harvard Business Review study of a global law firm: while half of the firm's employees were women, only 23% of the firm's partners were female. Further segmenting their survey data, HBR discovered women didn't want to be partner as often as men. A follow-up survey revealed there were strategies to increase the number of female partners, by making some small changes.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an ongoing discussion that continues to change with a shifting workforce landscape, but one thing is clear. Providing a diverse environment that allows people to be who they are will increase productivity and ultimately improve your business.

 

https://hbr.org/2019/02/survey-what-diversity-and-inclusion-policies-do-employees-actually-want

https://hbr.org/2014/11/help-your-employees-be-themselves-at-work

https://hbr.org/2018/12/to-retain-employees-focus-on-inclusion-not-just-diversity

https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/benefits-diversity-workplace/