As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure a safe, inclusive environment free from hostility or toxicity for everyone of your employees. After all, if your team does not feel comfortable in the workplace, they will leave. But “checking the inclusivity box” is not as simple as you may think.
Implementing obscure practices that give the impression of inclusion is not enough, you must create a culture that promotes diversity. The solution stands at the root of the problem, not hidden among the symptoms.
Here are 5 strategies you can begin to implement today in order to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture.
1. Education is Key
Education is the beginning point of all change. Therefore, in order to change your company’s culture or create a new one, you must help to educate your employees.
Three important steps to take to educate your team:
- Schedule training programs that focus on cultural diversity. Educate your employees on how valuable it is to exchange ideas and understand each other’s backgrounds. Encourage them to share their struggles and experiences.
- Evaluate your work environment, objectively. How inclusive is it right now? What are some polices, practices, procedures you would like to see changed? Identify unconscious biases, has a candidate been rejected for a position due to their sexual orientation/race/religion/etc.?
- Lastly, ask for feedback from your employees. In the end, it is their workplace you want to improve. Ask them how they feel about diversity, how they believe the organization can be more inclusive. As a leader it is imperative to listen to their opinions and ideas before drawing a viable conclusion on what to change.
Listen as best-selling author, TEDX /KEYNOTE SPEAKER, and workplace civility expert Shola Richards discuss how to dismantle toxic work culture.
2. Rethink Your Policies
It can be difficult to admit when we are wrong, but we must learn through our mistakes. If company policies are not diversity-friendly and inclusive, they must be changed or improved. Here are some questions about diversity policy models to consider:
- Does your company guarantee an unbiased hiring process?
- Do candidates come from diverse backgrounds?
- Are your recruiters diverse?
- Does your outreach person reach the entire community?
- Does your organization have pay gaps?
- Are women's salaries equal to the men in your organization?
- Are the minorities paid less than non-minorities?
- Do you offer equal holiday breaks for all employees in your firm?
- Some of your employees might celebrate different holidays. Do you allow them to take breaks during all holidays?
3. Seek Constant Communication
Communication is the only factor that can indeed assure inclusivity. As long as you talk about these issues openly, your company promotes transparency – and this should definitely be one of your goals. Create a space for open communication. Encourage employees to speak up when they feel wronged.
Here are a few tips to help open the lines of communication:
- Ask for feedback from your employees frequently. Allowing for an anonymous feedback session will help people share without feeling uncomfortable.
- Ask your employees to share ways in which your company can express diversity. Diversity panels, workshops or training may be upon the ideas presented. Listen carefully and take mental notes.
4. Celebrate Differences
One of the best ways to make everyone feel included is by celebrating differences in the workplace. Everyone is different, from diverse backgrounds and environments, so celebrating these contrasts is a great way to build stronger connections within your team.
- Have people showcase their cultural backgrounds through art, cuisine, etc.
- Make sure you include everyone in the conversation or decision-making process at your company.
- Help employees exchange ideas about their culture, sexual identification, etc. This will help normalize these topics and make them easier to discuss.
In order to create an inclusive workplace you must first create a safe environment where everyone feels welcomed. Here are some questions to ask your team to ensure you are taking the appropriate steps to create an inclusive workplace:
- Ask employees how you, as a leader, can improve the workplace culture. What benefits would they appreciate and why. Ask for clear, direct explanations and examples.
- Hire diversity coaches that will help with the hiring process and workplace culture. Give your employees the chance to be inspired by someone they admire.
Educate your employees, discuss diversity issues openly, and rethink company policies. Celebrate workplace differences, and create equal opportunities for everyone. As long as discussions stay transparent, your company will thrive!
Does your organization need help creating an inclusive workplace that celebrates diversity? JEANNINE CARTER, DH'S CHIEF DEIB INNOVATOR & ADVISOR IS AVAILABLE TO BRING HER DECADES OF EXPERIENCE CREATING INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS TO YOUR ORGANIZATION.
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