As it has been said by many corporate leaders and HR officials, diversity makes for a stronger workforce, and evidence supports this. When organizations hire and value employees from different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, religions, and worldviews, they reap multiple rewards, both in terms of innovation and creativity. Some common examples are high rates of job acceptance, improved employee performance, higher revenue, and strong company culture.
Diversity is very different from inclusion. Having a diverse workforce is important but in order to support that diversity, you need to have an environment where everyone, regardless of their background, feels included. Establishing an inclusive culture goes beyond just saying, “YES! We are an inclusive organization”. It means embracing policies, taking initiatives and having the right tools in place that will support an inclusive culture.
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As proven by multiple studies and surveys, having an inclusive workspace can significantly benefit an organization. Given that, many organizations are now working towards making their work environment more inclusive. In this article, we’ll mention a few ways to help small businesses like your local grocery store and large corporations make their workplace more inclusive.
Add Inclusivity into Your Core Values
As a leader, you should make it a habit to reassess your organization’s core values from time to time, especially when the corporate landscape around you is going through major changes. In case, your current list of core values does not include anything that supports an inclusive culture, get the buy-in from upper management, make a blueprint for the updates, and implement changes accordingly.
No matter how well prepared an employee from a different background, ethnicity, race or religion is, he won’t get a seat at the table until the majority is willing to pull up a chair. Organizations can take the necessary measures to make this happen. For example, an MNC devised a leader program that not only put high potential and hardworking employees on the management track but also picked out supervisors who made the decisions of selecting the candidates. Supervisors were given de-biasing training where they learned to recognize their inclinations of choosing candidates who were similar to them.
Celebrate and Support Your Employees’ Differences
It is good to be heard, but it’s even better to be celebrated. Invite your employees to share their opinions, traditions, and culture with the rest of the team. Doing this will not only create harmony among the employees but learning about different cultures would also help the employees pick up new ways of thinking, approaching, and solving problems. You can celebrate and support different cultures in your office in multiple ways. Train your team on cultural diversity, have a room where employees from diverse religions can pray, or create a shared calendar that highlights the festivities and celebrations important to different employees belonging to different ethnicities.
Practice Inclusive Leadership
It falls upon the leader to create a safe environment where his subordinates can speak up and feel heard. A good leader should attentively listen to the opinions of all employees, especially of the ones whose background differs from their own. Moreover, leaders should facilitate constructive arguments, nurture collaboration between diverse staff members, and give actionable feedback.
Create Resource Groups
There is a possibility that some or most of your employees are still not at ease with whatever differences they have compared to the rest of the employees. Initiating employee resource groups is a remarkable way of maneuvering this situation. Draft an anonymous questionnaire and send it out to your employees to recognize the different needs of your team. Based on the replies you receive, create focus groups to discuss topics that may help your team members come out of their shells and boost their self-confidence.
Recognize and Reward
Recognizing and rewarding an employee’s efforts holds great significance, not just for the employee but for the organization as well. It not only helps boost morale and increase employee engagement but identifying and rewarding a single employee’s behavior also signals your company’s values. For instance, if you are rewarding a certain behavior persistently, it sends out a signal to your employees about the specific talent and skills that your company values. Do take into account the other less evident contributions, and how they have helped the organization, its culture, and the workers. Queue them up for recognition and reward for the next quarter or year.
Wrapping Up Taking measures to ensure your team members are heard and understood is 50% of the effort needed to create an inclusive workplace. Once the team recognizes the efforts you are making towards valuing and supporting them, every single one of them would be even more willing to give their all at work.
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