You've probably heard the buzz from everyone from the mainstream news to your industry peers to your industry competitors that diversity and inclusion in the workplace initiatives have become crucial endeavors for all business leaders.
The vital need for diversity and inclusion strategies is not based on a passing trend. The face of the modern workforce is changing for everyone and will continue to do so.
In 2019, The Pew Research Center shared that the U.S. population is changing rapidly and that, by the middle of the 21st century, the country will no longer have a single racial or ethnic majority.
But you probably already see the changes daily in your own organization and want to ensure that everyone feels like an essential part of the team. You might wonder how to provide an organically equitable and inclusive work atmosphere that achieves and maintains any regulatory compliance relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Let's take a few moments to learn more about what diversity is and why it is so important and then focus on some inclusion strategies you can use to create and foster an equitable and inclusive workplace now and long into the future.
What Is Diversity?
If you are starting your diversity and inclusion planning now, you might have some questions, such as "what is diversity?" and "why is diversity important?"
Essentially, there are different types of people all over the world. As business and daily life become more of a global village than an enclosed ecosystem thanks to our abundant, user-friendly technologies and people from all over the globe moving to the U.S., it is only natural to see those different people enter the American workforce.
Diversity once focused on racial differences in the U.S., but now the range of diversity is so much greater, including:
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic status
- And nearly any other characteristic or domain that sets someone apart from any previously set forth standard.
Imagine coming into a business and encountering a set of completely foreign behaviors to you and your previous way of life. You might worry that you can't speak freely for worry over judgment or lack of respect.
As you expand diversity in your organization, it is just as important that you develop inclusion strategies that help everyone feel that their voice and ideas are important.
What Is Inclusion in the Workplace?
Once you recognize your diverse team and strive to guarantee they feel like an important member of your team, you are on your way to developing and maintaining a sense of inclusion in the workplace.
Inclusion is what happens when you create a workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, and the other above-listed domains, feels welcome, respected, valued, and has equal access to all opportunities.
Examples of inclusion in the workplace include scenarios where an employee might have a question about a specific task. They have no fear of asking a peer about how to approach it, especially based on any differences associated with diverse backgrounds or life experiences.
With inclusion, it is easy to see the positive impact of diversity in the workplace.
What Is the Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion?
Diversity represents the people who make up your workforce, and inclusion represents the environment that you create to make them feel welcome. For instance, you can encourage, support, and bring in more diversity through your recruiting practices, and you can create an inclusive environment that allows all employees to thrive and feel comfortable.
While there are distinct differences between the two concepts, they clearly go hand-in-hand, with one feeding into the other. Together, diversity and inclusion at work can help you fortify your workforce now, making the concepts organic and second nature as time goes on.
By focusing on the value of diversity in the workplace, you'll see that you will build and retain the best talent and results for your business.
The Top Five Strategies and Initiatives to Promote Diversity in the Workplace
If your leadership team is ready to sit down and map out how to promote diversity and inclusion, you might need some proven ideas to get things moving in the right direction.
Here are five ways to promote diversity in the workplace.
1. Start By Building a Diverse Team
One of the best ways to increase diversity is during the recruiting process. If you look around, do you see a diverse team? If not, focus on building one with each new hire. Before you launch a new recruiting session for any position, conduct an audit on your current hiring process and consider making a few adjustments:
- Tweak the language in job postings to create a "blind" description that omits demographic language and attracts diverse candidates. For instance, remove language that represents a more male-oriented work environment, such as "ambitious," competitive," and "driven," replacing them with terms like "cohesive," "cooperative," and "collaborative."
- Rely on software or work with talent solution organizations that can help you focus on "blinding" resumes, leaving out demographic data, allowing you to focus solely on the candidate's experience and capabilities.
2. Adopt and Encourage Language That Supports Diversity and Inclusion
Altering your company's approach to language and communication can increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. At the core of so many issues with addressing diversity in the workplace is language itself. Either people walk on eggshells out of concern for saying what they think is the "wrong thing," or some don't think things through and actually say the "wrong thing." In either case, the diverse employee might feel singled out, slighted, or insulted.
You can help foster better communication through inclusive language training. To understand what inclusive language is, let's take a look at some traditional, non-inclusive language structures that leave out large swathes of people:
- The suffix of "man" for professions like "policeman," "fireman," and "congressman.” (You could instead use “police officer,” “firefighter,” and “legislator.”)
- "Husband," "wife," “boyfriend,” and “girlfriend” to denote a partner when there are many same-sex relationships. (The term “partner” is a neutral term that works well.)
When your executives, managers, and HR team lead the way using inclusive language and avoiding words and phrases that avoid specific groups, you pave a path to promoting inclusion and diversity.
The impact of adopting, implementing, and encouraging inclusive language training for all employees goes beyond the confines of your building and even beyond your employees. You might find a welcoming reception from customers, industry peers, and the public via social media, websites, job descriptions, and any forward-facing platform representing the company or brand.
3. Ask Your Leaders to Step Up to Improve Diversity and Inclusion
Ensure your executives, management, and HR representatives understand the value of leading inclusion strategies. Ask them to serve as examples of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, letting everyone know that their presence and work are valuable to the organization and its success.
Education around diversity and inclusion is a big step toward implementing best practices as leaders shape company values.
When you train leaders about how to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you can create a trickle-down effect onto teams, giving everyone the tools they need to begin thinking from a more diverse or inclusive perspective.
Clearly express to your leaders and everyone on the team that diversity and inclusion are core values to your organization and that you need everyone's help to make it work.
4. Develop Workplace Policies That Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Think about how your employee manual lays out a general code of conduct for employees and your technology policy lays out the ground rules for computer and other technology equipment usage. With strong workplace policies that promote diversity, you can help clarify what you need from everyone.
The fact is, there are a few different matters at work when it comes to diversity and inclusion. First, you want to ensure all your employees feel welcome and included. Second, you need to share the legal reasons everyone must comply with your policies to avoid discrimination and harassment lawsuits. Such scenarios can damage and sometimes ruin a business. With the right policies and practices in place, employees can protect their interpersonal relationships, your organization, and their jobs.
5. Create a Safe Space for Feedback on Diversity and Inclusion
No matter how much you encourage leadership to keep their ear to the ground and keep up with what's going on as far as diversity and inclusion, they can use some help from those who know best: the employees. Secure and confidential feedback can open leadership up to the experiences of those in the company and how understanding each perspective is key in building an inclusive environment for all.
Here are some ways your leaders can get to the heart of the matter regarding how to increase inclusion in the workplace:
- Create blind surveys that don't require the employee's name, position, or any other identifying information.
- Provide environments, such as small group meetings or one-on-one sessions, where employees can share their experiences without feeling pressured in any way.
Creating a safe space, environment, or platform is beneficial in helping employees feel like they have a voice and are welcome to speak up.
Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Takes Time
Building a diverse and inclusive workplace does indeed take time. Still, it is clearly a pursuit worth your time, effort, and dedication to ensure all of your employees feel safe, secure, respected, and valued for their contributions.
Business leaders everywhere are striving to find the best diversity and inclusion strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but by developing core values dedicated to diversity and inclusion, you can work with your leaders to create a healthy, diverse, and inclusive environment for everyone. PeopleSuite can help you get there. Connect with us today to learn how we partner with employers.