Diversity and inclusion are often mentioned together, as though one doesn’t exist without the other. Almost as if diversity and inclusion are the peanut butter and jelly of the modern workplace.
But is that really true?
A McKinsey study suggests otherwise. In a survey of employee sentiment, company diversity was viewed as 52% positive and 31% negative. Inclusion lagged significantly behind
in employee reviews, measuring at a rate of 29% positive and 61% negative. These results indicate, you can, and should have one without the other.
So what gives?
Experts have studied the effects of how diversity can positively improve profitability, productivity, creativity, and business innovation. Diverse businesses outperform their less varied competitors, and that gap appears to be widening. But as employee culture becomes the star player in employee retention, how can you create a welcoming workplace where everyone is comfortable? That’s where inclusion comes in.
One thing is clear: hiring diversely isn’t enough.
Let’s take it as a given that a company employs diversely. Then what? Are there any policies or procedures to ensure they are successful?
Leadership needs to embrace inclusion.
Start at the C-suite and reiterate the importance of inclusion throughout all levels of management. Provide education to increase buy-in. Leaders must understand the importance of inclusion, how to measure it, how to foster it in their teams to create a workplace that is welcoming to all. One way to do this is by modeling inclusive language, such as using “spouse” or “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife.” Another is by adopting preferred gender pronouns on employee profiles. Once leadership is on board, they can set the tone and kick off inclusivity training for their teams.
Employ a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, bullying, and harassment.
If discrimination happens, it must be addressed swiftly. Hold everyone to the same standard, from the CEO to the newest recruit. Keep lines of communication open, and audit/assess how your teams are delivering with making everyone feel comfortable being themselves at work.
Focus on equity.
Don’t forget about the “E” in DEI. Just because the staff is diverse doesn’t mean bias is an issue of the past. Ask yourself: Are there equal opportunities when it comes to promotions and raises? Are there processes in place to make sure these practices are sustainable? Would the same people under consideration be offered opportunities for advancement in a blind interview process? Consider creating a team of diverse individuals, who are also dedicated to inclusivity in hiring, retaining, and advancing all workers.
Understand that your employees may have different values or celebrate different holidays by creating a new company holiday calendar that represents all your employees. Even if it’s not possible to make other religious holidays a company holiday, acknowledge them company-wide. Small instances of representation and celebration can do a lot to raise awareness and a sense of belonging.
Diversity is the means to a goal: inclusion, equity, and belonging for all. Use bold inclusion strategies to create a workplace culture where employees remain and thrive. A diverse workplace that is also welcoming, respectful, and celebratory is good for your business and good for your people.