Diversity in business has been shown to make a stronger workforce. When a business embraces team members from different backgrounds, it reaps the rewards of innovation, creativity, better business culture, and motivated and highly productive teams. However, is diversity the same as inclusivity? Although many use the two terms interchangeably, inclusivity and diversity are quite different. (1)
Diversity means embracing and accommodating all people despite their age, gender, class, or other differences. On the other hand, inclusivity is taking the necessary steps to actively support your diverse team. You’re essentially taking the responsibility to create a welcoming environment for your teams and your customers alike. So, how can you make your business more inclusive? Look at the six ways discussed below.
1. Create inclusive workplace goals
First, you need to know what you’re looking to achieve by becoming a more inclusive business. Determine your objectives and gather the necessary information. Here are a few things you can do to identify areas where you need to improve:
- Collect and monitor diversity data over time and analyse it to identify changes and develop a strategy.
- Compare your figures with those of similar organisations around the globe.
- Share the information with key decision-makers, including partners and service providers.
For instance, you can use the data and reports to see if your company has a lower percentage of female managers than other companies. This will allow you to reassess the fairness of your evaluation processes, be it for hiring new employees or promoting current ones.
Gathering diversity data can also help you know if you need to be more inclusive in terms of language. This consideration for your staff and team members will likely extend to your clients as well. For example, it may cause you to consider learning how to translate a website. This would help improve the accessibility of your website for a global audience.
Data and reports on diversity can help you plan for changes in your business that will make it more inclusive for employees and clients alike. Once you identify the areas in which you fall short, you can set specific targets and work toward them.
2. Commit from the top
Your biggest support will come from your executive team in your efforts to create and promote an inclusive business environment. They’re your strongest ally in fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. Leadership is an excellent resource for developing an honest, inclusive tone for the company once they’re on board. (2)
It starts with hiring inclusive leaders. Leaders and managers with inclusivity at heart and mind will help you propel your agenda quicker and more efficiently. For example, inclusive management will select employees fairly and objectively, evaluating candidates based on their abilities rather than their background, gender, or race.
If you have leaders who have no interest in creating a welcoming work environment, it will be challenging for them to achieve this goal for your business. You want your workplace to be welcoming to all employees by setting the bar high for yourself and all those at the top. (3)
3. Connect with your teams
Take time to examine the nature of your relationship with your staff. What kind of impression do you get from them based on how you engage with them? One of the best ways to establish an inclusive workplace is to ensure that everyone feels comfortable approaching you or the management and can be heard without fear of being condemned.
Connecting with your employees personally is an excellent step toward inclusion. Keep an open mind and avoid making any conclusions about the way of life of those you meet. When you approach your team members with openness, you may also be met with the same attitude.
4. Keep an open mind
Just as crucial as interacting with your teams is the ability to be open-minded. Let go of preconceptions and stereotypes, and you’ll be more open to new experiences. Everyone carries some notion about others from previous experiences and situations, but such a mindset may not be helpful in fostering a sense of inclusivity. Instead of focusing on assumptions, focus on what you believe and why you’re taking that stand.
Even if you don’t have prior experiences in the space of inclusivity, you can start creating your experiences and learning from them along the way. To succeed in making your business more inclusive, you must be conscious of how your mindset and actions affect the business environment. Be open to other people’s perspectives and be willing to alter what you may need to, to achieve your goal.
5. Develop an effective complaint system
Your business should handle complaints of discrimination or harassment by staff and customers under a clear internal system. Unfortunately, the general trends show that those who speak out against harassment may experience more professional difficulties than those who remain silent. If that seems to be true for your organisation, that’s a sign there could be a problem with the way it handles staff and customer complaints. (4)
One way to combat harassment and prejudice is to create fair policies and have a transparent reporting system. You can use the complaints as a source of new ideas for improving your organisation’s inclusivity.
6. Speak out about inclusivity
Finally, ensure that it’s clear that inclusion is a priority in your workplace. You can do this in several ways, including the following:
- Make inclusivity a key value in your onboarding materials: Your new employees will
be made aware from the outset that it’s critical to respect and tolerate others’ differences.
- Emphasise diversity and inclusion in your website’s mission statement: Inclusivity is
something most job seekers and customers look out for when visiting a company’s
website. Mentioning it on your site helps make people aware that this is a company value.
- Support different groups and causes: Look for ways to participate in initiatives that
promote inclusivity. For example, your company can hold promos or make social media
posts for events such as Pride Month, various holiday celebrations, or Mental Health
Inclusivity in your business will help you support a diverse team and audience more effectively. The first step to achieving a more inclusive business is to find out where your company stands and to take measures to cover the gaps you identify. Find managers who lead with inclusivity in mind, keep an open mind, connect better with your teams, and ensure there’s a fair reporting policy in place to help you handle complaints efficiently.
- “Delivering Through Diversity”, Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/people%20and%20organizational%20performance/our%20insights/delivering%20through%20diversity/delivering-through-diversity_full-report.pdf
- “5 Inclusive Leadership Traits That Will Improve Organizational Diversity”, Source: https://www.sandiego.edu/news/detail.php?_focus=76018
- “How Managers Can Sustain Diverse And Inclusive Workplaces”, Source: https://www.asisonline.org/security-management-magazine/articles/2020/03/how-managers-can-sustain-diverse-and-inclusive-workplaces/
- “Do Your Employees Feel Safe Reporting Abuse And Discrimination?”, Source: https://hbr.org/2020/10/do-your-employees-feel-safe-reporting-abuse-and-discrimination