Women and people of color continue to face obstacle after obstacle in the world of work. Though these communities bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the table, they may not always get a seat at the table — especially if your company does not actively work on building an inclusive work culture.
It’s essential to build a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace where women, people of color, and other communities can live up to their full potential — and help your company grow.
Research shows a diverse and inclusive workplace performs better, too. According to a McKinsey & Company study, companies with high racial and ethnic diversity outperformed their counterparts by 35%. It’s also key to hiring top talent: according to Glassdoor, 76% of jobseekers and employees consider a diverse and inclusive work environment as one of the most important factors when evaluating companies and potential job offers.
Hiring a diverse workforce is only the first step in the diversity and inclusion picture, and it shouldn’t impact only employees who work in the office but also any remote workers. Leaders and employers can take a number of steps to create a more inclusive work culture. Here are four key steps to help you build an inclusive workplace.
1. Educate your leadership
An inclusive company culture starts at the top. Leadership needs to understand and execute diversity initiatives and inclusion policies, and it's the experience that leadership provides that will make or break your policies.
Diversity is an important part of your company, though some senior leaders may not immediately recognize that. It’s time to roll out high-level training options for vice president-level and above. Don’t assume your leaders know anything, and start with the basics: what inclusion is, and why it’s important. You can have break-out sessions for leaders to discuss strategies and implementation. The goal? Break out of a potentially detrimental work culture.
New employees should be aware of inclusion — and your organization’s inclusive policies — from day one. It’s more important than ever to have extensive, inclusive onboarding to ensure every employee is on the same page. That includes addressing topics that may be difficult to talk about.
Sexual harassment training, for example, can educate your workforce and help prevent problems before they happen, and an anonymous whistleblowing system give your employees a secure channel to voice their concerns before issues become worse.
3. Recognize your company’s bias
One of the hardest things for any company — or individual — to do is recognize their own unconscious bias. However, it’s a big part of building an inclusive work culture. It’s your responsibility, and your leadership’s responsibility, to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
There are steps you can take to create an inclusive workplace culture:
- Develop a leadership program for team members with high potential.
- Start a bias-based training that teaches managers and supervisors to recognize and control their biases.
- Build programs to accelerate the success and growth of women and people of color.
- Mentorship programs are another popular way to help boost up diverse talent.
4. Communicate goals and progress
It’s important that your employees feel like a valued part of your workforce. A sense of belonging can increase employee engagement and retention, which is good for your bottom line. As with any strategic goal, you should involve your employees and make sure they know their thoughts have been heard.
It’s important to outline communication goals to your team. Communicating clear, specific, measurable goals are a great way to ensure everyone is on board.
Before you begin to change things to create a more inclusive organization, consider conducting an audit of your processes; an audit will help you better figure out where your shortcomings lie. A data-driven approach to your processes will allow you to measure results.
Encourage more people to join the effort by clearly stating how your company will benefit from an inclusive culture. This will help stakeholders get on board, and it will help your employees understand the plan.