As business leaders take active measures to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives into daily processes, workplace inclusivity is on the horizon, but we’re not quite there yet. Aside from human bias, organizations must continuously evaluate elements like internal practices, hiring processes, and messaging so they can identify room for improvement and come up with a plan of action.
Inclusivity is recognized as a significant driver of positive business outcomes, so these changes are worth pursuing. With a diverse workforce, companies stand to benefit from new perspectives and more engaged employees, all while gaining the opportunity to work with the best talent in the labor market. So, how does your organization stack up when it comes to inclusivity? Check out this overview of the top five characteristics of an inclusive workplace to see where your business shines and where there’s opportunity for improvement.
Employees Feel They Belong
A sense of belonging drives employee loyalty and satisfaction, but it means more than having their photo on the team’s wall. “The only way for companies to create a sustaining sense of belonging is to really listen,” explains Sanquinetta Dover, founder of DoverSolutions.
When employees feel that their employer values their opinions and knowledge, their mindset shifts from I’m working for you to I’m working with you. One way to work toward this is through surveys on workplace satisfaction, but employees need to feel heard on a regular basis.
Including employees in meetings, having management take time to talk to them face-to-face, and ensuring that all employees can offer input for big projects and initiatives are just some ways you can show that you value employee opinions.
From there, you can cultivate a sense of belonging by acknowledging ideas, praising individuals, and consistently showing appreciation. Employers should also try to strengthen the workplace community through social events and collaborative processes.
Collaboration Is Encouraged and Facilitated
Collaboration helps businesses accomplish more by breaking down silos and enabling different teams to work together effectively. In a truly collaborative workplace, there is little workday separation between one department and the next. All teams can communicate, share ideas, and help one another without feelings of frustration, delays, competition, or awkwardness.
In a siloed workplace, there’s no cross-collaboration until it’s critical for a big project. Because the teams only communicate during times of necessity, the interaction feels forced, and individuals sometimes aren’t as creative or efficient as they’d like to be. Communication didn’t exist before that project, and it will probably disappear when the project is over. That is the opposite of inclusivity.
Truly collaborative work environments don’t just enable easy communication — they encourage it. Facilitating collaboration means creating a culture where employees feel equal, valuable, and like everyone is accessible. Encouraging casual social interactions at work is one way to help melt away that awkwardness and standoffishness that can occur when teams don’t interact often.
There Are Programs to Support Growth
Inclusivity in the workplace isn’t just about whom you hire or how you treat them, but how you support people in different roles to achieve their goals and dreams. Leaders sometimes fear providing too much support for employees because they don’t want talent to grow so much that they leave the company.
In truth, offering support for your employees will make them feel respected and valued in a way that increases company loyalty. Some employees will eventually leave if they run out of challenges at your workplace, but that’s inevitable whether you’re helping them grow or not. Ultimately, you will only benefit from employee growth.
Offering opportunities for learning and development means that you can nurture your talent to become even better. This helps individuals feel that their strengths and aspirations have been recognized and acknowledged by the team and improves their sense of individuality in the workplace.
Each Person Is Valued as an Individual
Belonging and connection are often discussed as fundamental principles of a positive and inclusive work environment, but a sense of uniqueness is also crucial. “In an attempt to make everyone equal, companies often make the unintentional mistake of assimilation. When you fail to acknowledge and leverage each individual’s background, strengths, and goals, you devalue the entire team,” says Ms. Dover.
Showing that you care about each employee’s knowledge, experiences, and dreams is not easy, but it’s something management should strive to accomplish with each workday. L&D resources and internal sourcing are significant steps in the right direction. You can also show how you understand an employee as a person through daily interactions and conversations.
Inclusivity Is Part of the Business Strategy
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is failing to identify why inclusivity is so important. It’s the right thing to do, but figuring out how to strategically align it with business outcomes, both internally and externally, is crucial to success.
Inclusivity requires something different of each leader, manager, and employee. As such, each needs to understand what inclusivity means to your company and what their role is in achieving it. The question is, where do you begin? Many resources can guide your strategy and support your goals, including our full-service staffing firm DoverStaffing. One of their many programs that is a great resource is the DoverStaffing Ticket to Work Program. Ticket to Work Program assists those with disabilities of any kind, to receive the help they need to get back in the workforce. This can be any support they need whether it is for the betterment of their current employment or to become financially independent. We will examine in more detail the Ticket to Work Program in a future article.
Ask DoverSolutions for help in making your workplace more inclusive and unlocking the benefits of an effective DE&I strategy.