We have all heard the saying “there is no i in team”, but what about the invisible i, the one that we all need to work on, as a team – inclusivity.
Inclusivity is NOT another flavour of the month workplace trend that companies should dip their feet into once or twice, shake off the water droplets and move on. Inclusion is THE most important driver of positive workplace cultures, employee engagement and soaring profitability.
In a Forbes interview Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer with Procter & Gamble, stated “I think that the 5 billion people in the world who we serve are looking around and saying, 'We need to make sure that we leave this world in a better place, and that has to come from the everyday household and personal care products that we use as well. So, we made a very deliberate decision to build things like sustainability and equality and inclusion into the business to make it part of how brands grow and part of the business model”.
Deloitte reports that inclusive workplaces are 6X as likely to be innovative and have 2.3X the cash flow per employee over non-inclusive workplaces in a 3-year period.
So, what is inclusivity? How does it correlate with Diversity, and how can we build more inclusive organisations and companies?
Diversity in the workplace means that a company hires a wide range of diverse people of varying gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, language, education, background etc. Diversity is about appreciating the many differences that exist between individuals and ensuring that these differences are valued.
Inclusion can be defined as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” * Society of Human Rights Management.
Whilst diversity refers to the characteristics that make us all individual, inclusion is about the behaviours and social norms that make us feel welcome and invested in any workplace setting. Without inclusion in the workplace, diversity efforts will not succeed.
According to Fast Company, companies with higher women employees in the C-suite level result in 34% increased returns to shareholders. Companies with above-average gender diversity and employee engagement levels outperform other companies by 46% to 58%.
A recent Diversity and Inclusion report carried out by the McKinsey Group found that companies with more diverse and inclusive workforces perform better on every level;
The bottom line is, when employees feel included, it drives increased positive performance and creates stronger, more engaged teams.
Here are our top 7 ways to build more inclusive workplaces for the 21st century.
Educate managers about inclusion in the workplace. That is a no-brainer.
Scheduling ongoing cultural training and diversity workshops is a great way to keep management on top of their game.
Encourage a culture of feedback to give employees a voice.
Evaluate your workplace. Have you created an environment that makes everyone feel like they belong? Do people make comments about race, gender or sexual orientation that seem harmless but in reality, are creating a toxic environment?
Unconscious bias is a predisposition to see a situation in a certain way. We all have it.
Assumptions that are made about people because of gender, race, ethnicity, social status etc do not belong in inclusive workplace environments and need to be challenged. One such is example is the classic men belong at work and women belong in the home. Sounds like a dialogue from the 1950s right?
These attitudes and stereotypes can negatively impact our understanding, actions, and decision-making and so an effort must be made to challenge these biased attitudes, unconscious or not.
Long gone are the days where companies hire an employee because they prove to be a good “culture fit”. In fact, Facebook has banned the term completely. Instead, focus on letting people be who they are, but ensure that your onboarding, organisational practices and engagement policies work hard to support an alignment to your companies values, vision and goals.
An inclusive workplace environment should encourage open conversations.
Build a workplace culture of inclusivity by making opportunities for leaders and employees to chat, provide feedback and be involved. When employees have a say over decisions it impacts their sense of belonging. Inclusion through conversation is what connects people to an organization and makes them want to stay.
Pronouns that a person might prefer are their own choice to use and if we are committed to truly creating inclusive workplace environments, we must normalise the use of pronouns. Mistaking or assuming pronouns might be a great source of stress or embarrassment for your employee so have these conversations early on by asking for your team members preferred pronouns during initial interactions. Similarly, job advertisements should use gender-neutral language.
Take a look at your company’s holiday calendar. Is it inclusive and representative of the diversity of your team?
Make an effort to celebrate together by organising cultural events or simply recognising important dates as a team.
For everyone to bring their most authentic self to work, a sense of belonging must first be established. Like any form of behaviour change, inclusion requires individuals to identify ways to build new habits and companies to create the right organisational behaviours. Try the following:
A company might be diverse, but if the employees do not feel safe, valued, and have a sense of belonging, then there can be no inclusion.
In 2021 a diverse, inclusive workplace is what potential employees look for while considering a job offer so it pays to make inclusivity the most important part of any culture strategy.
When we are surrounded by people of various racial and ethnic identities, we get an opportunity to learn so much. We open ourselves up to new perspectives. This leads to huge personal growth, and in the context of the workplace, our team environment improves, and we collectively perform better.
Inclusion in the workplace drives growth, improves employee engagement, and unleashes the potential of the people in our organisations. When it comes to team building, do not underestimate the power of inclusion.
The most important i in team, in profitability, in diversity and in this article is INCLUSION.