You can hire the best employees in the world, but if the work environment is not inclusive, they will leave. Diversity and inclusion are key factors in fostering a positive work environment.
An inclusive workplace makes all employees feel valued. Their differences are acknowledged and greatly contribute to the company culture and business outcomes. When employees are happy, a company becomes profitable.
According to a study published by the Harvard Law Review, companies with above average diversity are more innovative and make more money. Another exhaustive report by McKinsey showed that diverse workplaces report up to 19% higher revenues than monolithic companies because of innovation.
These findings are eye-opening for start-ups, tech companies, and industries where innovation is key to growth.
Why are inclusive workplaces more profitable? They foster innovation as employees are exposed to new skills and ideas. When your employees feel seen, heard, and valued, they become happy. Happy employees are more creative and dedicated. They can come up with fresh ideas that improve the organization’s growth.
If you’re wondering how to create an inclusive workplace and boost your company’s bottom line, here’s how.
Practice Diversity During the Hiring Process
The first step to creating an inclusive workplace is hiring the right employees. Hire people based on merit and take special care to ensure processes are free from biases related to race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics unrelated to job performance.
Hiring for diversity is a no-brainer. When you have a workforce that comprises people from different backgrounds and perspectives, you have a more rounded team. And a rounded team equals better performance. Team members have fresh and exciting ideas that can give you a competitive advantage and differentiate you from the competition.
Organizations with diverse teams:
- Are 70% more likely to capture new markets
- Make decisions two times faster
- Are more likely to be innovation leaders
Eighty percent of millennial candidates consider an organization’s stand on diversity before submitting an application, so it should be high on your agenda. To attract top talent, create inclusive job adverts, attractive workplace policies, and ensure all touchpoints reflect diversity.
Create a Listening Culture
Hiring a diverse workforce isn’t enough to create an inclusive work environment. In most organizations, managers talk more than they listen. Instead of spending time guessing what your employees want, why not let them tell you?
So, how do you create a culture of effective listening? Here’s how.
- Create trust by encouraging transparency
- Be approachable
- Hold brainstorming sessions
- Reward ideas that challenge the status quo
- Act on any insights you gain
Keep communication lines open to make employees feel that their opinion counts. And show them you value their ideas by discussing them during brainstorming sessions. Even if immediate change is not possible, your employees should know you’ve heard them.
When you listen to your employees, you boost employee engagement and job satisfaction. This leads to positive change in the workplace and improved business performance.
Use and Promote Inclusive Language
We all have unconscious biases we carry every day, even when making casual conversation.
For example, an employee might say, I’m sorry I missed the meeting, I had a plumbing emergency at home and had to wait for my plumber.
Without thinking, you may quickly respond, Oh! That’s okay. I hope he fixed the problem.
The employee may respond, Yes, she did. My plumber is a woman.
After realizing your mistake, you’ll probably think, “Why did I assume the plumber is a man?”
Language has the ability to forge connections and build relationships, but it can also create barriers and affect people’s sense of belonging. When an employee feels like they can’t bring their authentic self to work, they feel like they don’t belong. A sense of belonging results in higher retention rates and increased customer satisfaction. Happy employees equal happy customers.
Most organizations communicate in an exclusive language. They use words that exclude other people for effect. Your company shouldn’t do this if it wants to be inclusive.
For instance, if you own a restaurant, don’t use words like “waiter” and “waitress.” Instead, say, “server.” If your business targets families, you can use the word “parent” instead of “mom.” This ensures you include more parents.
For communication to be effective, it must appropriately address all audiences. Inclusive language embraces diversity, is sensitive to differences, shows respect for all people, and promotes equal opportunities.
A tool like ProWritingAid can also help make your workplace more inclusive. The writing assistant flags any offensive, confusing, or inappropriate terms and suggests replacements. It can also make sure that your inclusivity standards are upheld by all of your team members, wherever they write.
ProWritingAid’s inclusive language suggestions highlight places where you may want to use more gender inclusive language, as below:
Download ProWritingAid’s browser extension now to make sure every email, tweet, and Google Doc is representing your company in the right way.
You can also use tools like Gender Decoder and Textio to screen your language, especially during the hiring process. They scan your job adverts for masculine and feminine words, ensuring the text is gender-inclusive.
Make Inclusion One of Your Core Values
To make inclusion a core business value, you have to open the door to difficult conversations. It may mean creating a roundtable discussion so people feel heard or being open about how your company is struggling to meet its goals on diversity and inclusion. These are thorny and uncomfortable conversations.
Managers must also understand the need for difficult discussions when employees misspeak or aren’t aware of the effect of their words. When the conversation turns to race, sexual orientation, or gender, it is often the case that fear, shame, anxiety, and vulnerability follow.
Difficult conversations should not be avoided. If they are, employees will feel misunderstood or not heard at all. Lead with grace when it comes to communication. You’ll create a vulnerable work environment where people embrace each other’s differences.
Educate the Managers
Managers are intermediaries between top-level management and the employees. Employees air their grievances to them, and that’s why all managers should be trained on cultivating an inclusive culture.
Conduct annual training for managers to ensure they stay updated on workplace policies. They should create rules and regulations that promote diversity and shouldn’t discriminate based on gender, religion, cultural background, or race.
All managers should be able to recognize and address workplace bias. They shouldn’t exclude people from projects because of their sexual orientation or tolerate thinly veiled comments about race or gender. They can schedule diversity workshops and cultural trainings for employees to end unconscious bias.
Building an inclusive and diverse workplace begins when all leaders and managers are on board. The only way an organization can sustain this positive culture change is if leaders are committed. Once they embrace inclusivity, they can educate and empower the rest of the team.
Hold People Accountable
Back in 2018, Starbucks showed us what can happen if people are not held accountable for their actions: a nationwide crisis.
Two African-American men were wrongly arrested because of sitting in a Starbucks. They weren’t buying anything, so the manager asked them to leave. They told him they were waiting for a colleague to arrive. He wasn’t satisfied with their explanation and called the police. The men were arrested, and a public relations crisis began for the entire company. Starbucks quickly responded with a sincere apology and closed 8,000 of its stores to train 175,000 employees about racial sensitivity.
If you wait for a crisis to happen before you make your company inclusive and diverse, it may be too late.
As your company continues to grow, it’s important for managers and employees to be accountable both at the workplace and in the outside world. Hold everyone to a higher standard; people will be more sensitive to each other’s differences.
Your human resource team also has a big role to play in enforcing accountability. It is their responsibility to create an environment where all employees feel valued and included. This helps guide the recruitment strategy and makes the organization attractive to a diverse pool of candidates.
No organization wants to have a workplace where some employees feel like they can’t thrive. But if you don’t know that problems exist, it’s hard to address them. That’s why your company should come up with a way to measure inclusion and diversity. Otherwise, the human resource team and executives will have to rely on their own perceptions of the company culture—with different levels of accuracy.
If you want to know whether employees’ experiences align with your company’s goals, ask them. Create surveys to know the feelings and opinions of your workforce. When surveys are used correctly, they can enlighten you about problems in your company you didn’t know existed—and would never have thought of. They can also serve as a tool for uncovering opportunities to empower employees through internal programs.
You can also monitor inclusivity programs in meetings or through private channels that encourage free communication. During meetings, people can discuss whether the company is seeing an upturn in communication, employee synergy, and employee retention. Management can also be updated about non-performing policies related to diversity and inclusivity.
Get ProWritingAid for Your Team and Create an Inclusive Workplace
People interact in so many ways today, but they all want to be understood. Inclusion enhances employee engagement and creates a sense of belonging in the workplace. Organizations that want to succeed in 2021 and beyond must make sure they are diverse and inclusive. Having the right balance of employees boosts growth and revenue. As you work on creating an inclusive workplace, use ProWritingAid to make all your writings inclusive.