Top 5 Ways to Foster Inclusion at Workplaces

Top 5 Ways to Foster Inclusion at Workplaces
A Deloitte report states that inclusive workplaces are 6X as likely to be innovative and have 2.3X the cash flow per employee over non-inclusive workplaces in 3 years.

Top 5 Ways to Foster Inclusion: Creating Workplaces that Work for Everyone

A few weeks ago, I came across a thought-provoking survey response to a Quantum Workplace survey, where employees were asked to complete the following sentence:

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion strategies, my immediate manager is…….” 45% of employees believed their immediate managers are supportive of inclusion, whereas 24% believed their managers are committed.

Don’t these results signify the bright side of inclusion? Then where is the real problem?

The underlying complication is that 26% of employees either thought their managers were opposed, unaware, or undecided about inclusion, or they simply didn’t know how their managers felt. Now, there could be a multitude of reasons why this happened.

It could be an omission of efforts to set clear expectations about appropriate conduct or could be owing to gaps in policies, training, and communication, or simply the fact that organizations may be unaware of problems with the workplace culture because they were unable to seek feedback. The result is that maybe a few employees discerned feeling marginalized causing dysfunction in the workplace.

A Deloitte report states that inclusive workplaces are 6X as likely to be innovative and have 2.3X the cash flow per employee over non-inclusive workplaces in 3 years.

This 2-year research study of more than 450 global companies in Asia, Europe, and US cites that talent practices that predict the highest-performing companies are all focused on building an Inclusive Talent System. 

In simple terms, companies that embrace belongingness in all aspects of their business, statistically outperform their peers.

Fostering inclusion can be explored in many ways, a few of which are enumerated below:

Inclusion Should Be a Systemic and Top-Down Approach, Not Just an HR Program

When it comes to constructing and boosting an inclusive workplace, the biggest allies will be the leadership team. Generating an apex or top-level focus and strategy at the leadership level and allowing them to sponsor inclusion will create an unimaginable ripple effect.

Leaders must visibly model inclusion behaviours and practice organizational values thus invigorating and inspiring managers to promote inclusion at all levels and across all departments.

This will include training at the C-suite level, creating behavioural standards, diversity metrics, and holding leaders accountable for results. Once the buy-in is set, leaders will be monumental and fantastic resources for setting an authentic and inclusive tone for all.

Listen, Communicate, Train, and Put in Black & White

Inclusion behests the freedom of expression without fear which empowers companies to not just listen, but also actively embrace diverse viewpoints.

It is mandatory to train people at all levels on unconscious bias, hiring, inclusive job descriptions, performance evaluations, etc. to address responsibilities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and to seek out diverse perspectives to amplify marginalized voices.

Anonymous surveys, focus groups, and informal discussions can help to identify concerns about the workplace climate thus making employees feel comfortable to express their ideas and opinions in the workplace.

They will be able to contribute with an open mind during meetings, reviews, and conversations with team members without feeling concerned about how others will receive what they have to say.

The most effective method would be a target-based commitment with clearly written goals, inclusive behaviours, methods, and outcomes. This will hugely nurture creativity and innovation and spring an inclusive culture.

Invite Inclusivity Through ERGs and Allyshi

It is imperative to create internal communities where employees with the same interests and identities come together, interact, and support each other to create safe spaces for promoting inclusion.

Putting in place Affinity groups, Inclusion Sponsors and Employee Resource Groups can make a significant impact in developing an inclusive organization as they bring together employees with comparable life experiences to share stories and act as advocates for their organization thus corroborating the fact that their is a safe place for them in the company, where they can feel welcomed, safe, and valued.

Inclusion Demands Scorecards and Metrics

The Return on Inclusion/ Investment (ROI) must be chalked out as we progress along the journey.

This could be in the form of visible outcomes such as retention, employee engagement of diverse groups, referrals, sensitization programs, the role of inclusion in customer satisfaction, employee and client feedback, NPS, or revenues from innovation. Ultimately, inclusion will lead to long-term sustainable growth which needs to be tracked using the right metrics.

Reminisce That Inclusion is a Journey and Not a Destination

We need to bear in mind that inclusion is an unceasing transformative journey that takes time. While we may have all things in place such as top management buy-in, inclusion sponsors, creation of inclusion enablers, accessible tools, measuring ROI, adequate communication, and unconscious bias training around it, what we have to gather is that it takes time to perforate the DNA of the organization and create an impact.

Meaningful change will take continued focus, effort, and time. There are myriad ways to foster inclusion, but what is important is that we need to practice inclusion every day and not treat it like a magic pill. All such tiny gestures and everyday moments of inclusion will ultimately add up to create an inclusive culture that does not just strive to ignore differences but creates a culture where employees feel respected for their differences.   


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