For any business that wants to build a diverse workforces and encourage inclusivity, its efforts must begin with the leaders. The benefits of having a diverse workforce have definitely come into the spotlight recently, as the calls for companies to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment and employee management have grown louder. In LinkedIn's Global Recruiting Trends report, 62% of companies say they prioritize diversity to boost their financial performance. While, 78% of them say they do so to improve their company's culture.
However, while it is important to implement inclusive business practices for employees and customers, it is also equally important for managers to encourage inclusive business practices. After all, managers can directly influence the company's culture through their leadership style, communication skills, and vision for the company.
Many managers will set the tone for company behavior and culture. So, to get the most out of inclusive business practices, they must be implemented and supported company-wide, including senior managers. Not only must managers support inclusivity in the organization, they must also actively champion it and be willing to practice inclusive behavior in their own roles [and within their own teams]. A business can also practice inclusivity by eliminating any unconscious bias within its management team, such as boosting minority representation and eliminating gender pay gaps. Managers can practice inclusivity by engaging with their employees and addressing their own unconscious biases/mistakes.
In a recent Forbes Insight survey, 65% of respondents said they believed that the burden of promoting inclusivity and diversity in the workplace lies with the HR department. Around 45% said that implementing a great inclusion and diversity program was the responsibility of senior business leaders. While HR managers play a significant part in sustaining inclusive business practices, many of them make a key mistake: they focus solely on inclusive recruitment policies. In fact, the same survey by Forbes found that 65% of HR leaders said recruiting a diverse workforce was their top priority.
However, effective inclusivity within a workplace extends well beyond the hiring process. An equal effort needs to be placed on the workforce's retention and engagement and any discrepancies in discrimination that may exist. HR managers can do this by employing the use of regular employee check-in sessions. To encourage transparency and employee comfort, they may want to use simple employee feedback tools that are confidential, such as pulse or external wellbeing surveys. A great example is the case of a brand working to ensure its online storefront is universally available to those with disabilities by using audio descriptions, braille support, and content that is optimized for easy readability. Similarly, they should apply the same approach to their online employee feedback tools or training module to ensure employees of all abilities can access inclusivity training materials.
Using the data from these sessions can help HR managers spot any conscious [or unconscious] bias that may exist in their workforce and work to implement strategies to address it. It also gives HR managers tangible evidence to raise concerns with other business leaders.
A great way to foster inclusivity in any organization is to provide regular and specifically tailored inclusivity training for all organization employees - including your managers. Companies spend $8 billion on diversity and inclusivity training every year, but many make the crucial mistake of not including managers in the training session.
The problem with this is that it hinders the effectiveness of the inclusivity training. Managers are largely responsible for driving forward the business's culture and are essential in implementing any DEI policies your company may have. So, the way a manager leads and delegates in the team will affect employee engagement. From tips to build the most diverse teams to how to respond to non-inclusive behavior existing teams, managers need to be included in any inclusivity training provided.
Creating and implementing inclusive business practices within a business takes time - but also it takes the right management. The way your management team handles diversity and inclusion will make all the difference in whether your business practices true diversity. The good news is that there is a lot that managers can do to drive inclusivity forward. Starting from embodying these practices themselves, managers can make a real difference. After all, diversity is a top to bottom business strategy - not just an HR program.