There’s plenty of talk today about the importance of “culture fit” and diversity within a workplace. Though looking at the state of our sociocultural affairs it may appear otherwise, it seems that the business world – and the members of its organizations – are going through a major culture shift in favor of inclusivity. There is a major demand for this – to develop an inclusive culture – and a transformation of the American workplace and companies around the country are starting to catch on to its importance.
See, diversity and inclusivity are not just words to be paraded around like badges of honor, nor are they boxes to check off once and forget. Having a truly inclusive, diverse team that fosters a sense of belonging in its employees can benefit your business in many ways. Inclusivity boosts morale, career satisfaction and can also bring increased productivity and overall success to your company. With a constantly diversifying and developing the global market, you can expect diversity in your company to play a huge advantage in your favor. It’s simple – having a diverse team makes your company better suited to scale your business in other geographic locations and cultures.
So how can you develop a truly inclusive culture in your workplace? Here are the four pillars of advice to follow.
Make sure every team member and the department is on the same page and working towards the same vision.
It turns out, the top-down trickle-effect has little success when it comes to inclusivity. That’s because inclusivity in your company culture permeates every department, employee and standard practice. There’s really no logical or systematic way that inclusivity travels within a team; instead, it’s an accumulation of all decisions, biases, and interactions throughout the day. Make sure that inclusivity is explicitly defined as a mutual goal within the organization, and that the responsibility for upholding that goal falls on every member of the team.
Company culture doesn’t start or end with any one person; therefore, the idea isn’t to change one person’s attitude at the top, it’s to work together to change collectively. Building and developing a company culture together also instills a great sense of pride and ownership in your employees. This will, in turn, strengthen the very fiber of your company structure and help organically sustain itself over the long term.
Be an empathetic leader.
Even as you stress the equally shared responsibility of inclusivity, people will always continue to look to leadership for advice and example. You must lead by example and with empathy toward your team if you want to create an inclusive environment. Sometimes, inclusivity doesn’t mean treating everyone the same, but rather, approaching each person with empathy and understanding for their unique characteristics and circumstances. It’s also important to train all others in leadership roles to practice empathy and approach each individual with the willingness to learn and understand their feelings of belonging or lack-there-of. This is a crucial step in recognizing and understanding the nature of inclusivity.
Simply discussing inclusivity with your team isn’t enough; in order to achieve a real sense of belonging you’ve also got to hold everyone accountable for holding up their end of the deal. For instance, it may not necessarily matter that your employees know how to spot bias if it isn’t dealt with and resolved. To really make a difference to the minority or underrepresented members of your team, the leaders must be willing to enforce the standards of inclusivity. Who gets invited to an important meeting? Who gets to speak and be heard during that meeting? All of these factors matter and ultimately add up to your company culture.
Continuously work on the inclusivity of the organization.
Some businesses think they can treat issues of inclusivity with a single training session, memo or hire. Unfortunately, that kind of approach rarely works and leaves your business at a high risk of turnover. These “quick fixes” generally waste everyone’s time and could cost you a lot of time and money in turnover – not to mention a sizeable dent in morale.
It’s imperative that companies make it their mission to promote and nurture an inclusive and diverse workplace. With the right mindset, goals, tools, people and processes in place success will become inevitable