Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous benefits of investing in diversity, equity and inclusion. Companies can see an increase in reputation, profits, retention, and engagement. Yet many still struggle to see real results. Why? Because they don’t have an actual strategy in place. A one-off training on microaggressions or checking a box on hiring diverse talent is not enough to drive a culture of inclusion and equity.
Employees will feel cheated if your workplace culture doesn’t live up to the hefty statements you have been putting out. Creating an inclusive culture should be a top priority for organizations to attract and retain top talent. Here are just a few ways that you can start to build a culture where employees feel included no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education status, background, etc.
Start at the top
If diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t the company's goal, it won’t happen. Your company's leadership and executive team must be on board with cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace beyond vanity metrics. Once you have buy-in from the top, getting things done becomes a lot easier. Now, if you don’t have leadership on board, it will be an uphill battle, but eventually, once you build the business case, they will (hopefully) see the value.
Diversify your recruitment efforts
Ensuring that your job postings and recruitment efforts are inclusive and accessible is crucial. Ask yourself questions like, are the job postings in multiple languages? Do we require college degrees for jobs where experience would suffice? Remember - don’t just check a box. Make sure that they are qualified and add value to the organization.
Form an inclusion council
Create a council with people from various levels and departments within your organization that are all committed to creating an inclusive culture. Since this is on a volunteer basis, you know these people are all passionate and committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. They keep everyone accountable, set goals, and discuss any challenges.
A great way to create an inclusive culture is to celebrate differences between employees. Let’s stop assuming that our employees celebrate Christian holidays and offer non-christian holidays off to employees. Another way to celebrate differences is to throw a potluck dinner and invite employees to cook or bring food that represents their culture.
Invest in DEI training
Training your employees on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are necessary if you want to create an inclusive workplace. From diversity training to DEI workshops, FIG can determine the best solution for your organization.
Hire a DEI consultant
A DEI consultant can bring a fresh perspective to your organization. They have the experience and credentials to help companies create diversity programs that see actual results. With DEI consultants becoming an increasingly popular job title, it’s important to find one with the credibility to back it up. Calling yourself a consultant isn’t enough. Find one that has the proper training and experience.
Use inclusive language
You have to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to building an inclusive culture. In all communications, use inclusive language, from learning your employees' preferred pronouns to using “spouse” or “partner” rather than “husband” or “wife” when talking about someone's spouse, especially if you don’t know their gender. Nobody’s perfect, so apologize and learn from your mistakes if you mess up.
Want to know how your efforts are doing? Get feedback. Don’t wait until an issue arises to check in with your employees. To create a truly inclusive environment, you have to invest the time and energy in continuous improvement, which includes getting feedback from your employees.
Make sure you prioritize accessibility
Is your office wheelchair accessible? Do you offer your internal communication in alternative formats for those who may have vision impairments? Do you have closed captioning on your videos? These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself to ensure that your workplace is accessible for everyone. Don’t do the bare minimum. Prioritize accessibility.
Create realistic and measurable goals
Goals keep everybody accountable in your organization. It’s important that the goals and metrics that you use are more than just vanity metrics used to make your organization look good. Create realistic goals that help everyone work towards the mission of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in your organization.
Understand the difference between diversity and inclusion
Diversity is not the same as inclusion, and diversity means nothing in your organization without inclusion. You should not only strive to hire a diverse workforce (but don’t hire just for diversity), but you should strive for a culture that is inclusive so that everyone feels welcomed and included.
The effects of not fostering an inclusive culture
We all talk about the benefits of having an inclusive culture - increased employee engagement, profits, reputation, etc. But what about when you don’t put the time or energy into fostering an inclusive culture?
Increased chance of lawsuits
Companies that don’t go through training and don’t invest the time into creating an inclusive culture are more likely to face discrimination lawsuits. If your employees don’t feel welcomed or included - why would you expect them not to sue?
Decreased customer loyalty
Customers care about diversity, equity and inclusion more than ever. If you are fostering an inclusive culture, your customers will know and support you. If you aren’t, they will spend their money somewhere else.
Decreased talent recruitment
The workforce is changing, the older generations are leaving, and the next generation is stepping into those positions. Top talent wants to work for companies that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. If you don’t, they will happily go to another company that will.
Get started with DEI today
You shouldn’t wait until a discrimination lawsuit or PR nightmare to start caring about diversity, equity and inclusion. Prioritizing an inclusive culture is necessary for long-term success now more than ever. FIG Strategy & Consulting, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, offers countless services that can help you get started with or improve your existing diversity initiatives.