Inclusion and diversity in any company or team are essential for success. Many potential employees will base decisions about where to work based on the company's sense of inclusion and diversity. Despite what the new workforce wants, many companies fall short when it comes to improving these aspects. The new generation of workers are Gen Z, who will make up 37% of the workforce this year. According to Deloitte, when it comes to this generation, “83% report being actively engaged when their organization fosters an inclusive work environment, versus 60% who report being actively engaged when their organization does not”. By understanding what these workers want, companies can correctly adapt and improve inclusion and diversity culture.
1. Increase ethnic and gender diversity in leadership
Employees look to the top when trying to understand the culture at a company. A diverse leadership can allow for diverse ideas to be shared within the company. Different groups, such as women of color, struggle to get into leadership roles within a company.“As of a 2019 Harvard Business Review study, there were no black women leading a Fortune 500 company.” By establishing clear criteria for performance that is standard regardless of gender or race, people from different backgrounds will be able to excel in these positions. Diverse leaders bring different leading styles which will be appreciated by the company. When leaders are diverse, teams will have various ideas and new employees will want to work at the company. Not only do diverse teams help with ideas, they also lead to higher profits. “Finding that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile”(Consultancy). The ideas of the business start at the top and that is why it is essential to ensure that the leadership is diverse.
2. Encourage training in a positive way
No one enjoys being told what to do and when it comes to diversity and inclusion training, many companies have training that is forced. This doesn't help as it actually pushes people away from the messages. People should want to receive the training and if they feel as though they sought it out, the training will have more of an impact on them. This isn't a one time discussion, it is an ongoing conversation and needs to be something that employees want to partake in. Allowing people to choose to partake in training changes their thoughts from “I am forced to learn about this” to, “I am making the choice to show up, therefore, I must be pro-diversity" .
3. Appreciate and celebrate all backgrounds
While Christmas is a holiday most expect to get off, what about the holidays that predominantly minority groups in an area celebrate? It is important to improve inclusion by promoting acceptance and recognition of all holidays. Holidays such as Kwanza seldomly are on the list of approved holidays for days off. By offering more flexibility with time off so everyone can take off when needed, employees will feel that all of their cultures are valued and they will want to work or stay at the company.
4. Recruit diverse candidates
The people in the company should represent the diverse and inclusive ideas the company holds. Recruiting new members is an essential aspect of diversity and inclusion. Employers should recruit from diverse institutions. By having recruiting channels from diverse elite institutions, new staff will feel welcomed and empowered to come to the company. Using employees who graduated from these institutions as members of the recruiting teams will promote more and more people to want to enter the company. If new diverse employees see people with something in common to them, they will feel more comfortable working at the company. Many companies use referrals to find new employees. If the company has less diversity, it is likely that the new people referred will also be less diverse. “Your current employees play a large role in who gets hired next.” (Forbes). This is why companies remain homogeneous. By opening up the way in which employees are recruited and allowing people to apply without referrals, your company will be well on the way to expanding diversity.
5. Let your employees know you care
By changing simple ways of life such as having gender neutral restrooms so everyone feels included, your staff will know that you want them to feel comfortable at work. Teams work better when everyone feels valued and respected. By allowing employees to openly express their ideas and ensuring that the staff knows each other, your intentions of fostering a welcoming work environment will shine through.
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6. Talk to and understand employees
Employees should feel that they can be open with employees and hires in the company if they at any point feel as though the workplace is not inclusive for them. Receive feedback from employees in a productive manner by hearing their voices in discussions or sending out surveys and taking time to review the results (Business News Daily). Simply having a poster about diversity in the office is not going to cut it, discussions and action is what will let your team know diversity is a priority for you. Let employees know that if they have a complaint, it will be addressed. Many cases of racial harassment go unreported as employees feel the complaint will not be addressed and handled correctly if they do bring it up. “ 76% of Black employees and 58% of Hispanic employees have experienced racial harassment at work, yet in the last 20 years (1997-2018) there have only been 710,052 cases (roughly 1%) formally reported” (Forbes). Teach staff that this is not the case by taking complaints seriously and addressing them on an individual basis, instead of having one standard impersonal procedure for any complaint.
By taking these steps, your company will be on the way to having a successful diverse community. This will improve collaboration, profits and the culture within the workplace.