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How To Get Serious About Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace

By May 21, 2024Blogs, Inclusive DiversityViews: 171

Talking about diversity at work can make people react in different ways. Some wonder if it’s still an important topic and suggest hiring based only on skills. Others agree that diversity matters but might focus on those who easily fit into the company culture.

Why is the discourse on workplace diversity still relevant?

From a business perspective, it significantly impacts revenue, creativity, and talent acquisition. Diverse teams, studies show, not only earn more but also foster innovation and better decision-making. In a competitive talent landscape, embracing diversity becomes a strategic move to access a broader pool of skilled professionals. Moreover, driving social change begins in workplaces, where power and influence shape progress.

We have never been more connected than we are today. Even with remote work, organizations can tap into talent regardless of geographical boundaries.

Yet, achieving diversity is not as automatic as we thought it would be.

Many companies inadvertently harbor invisible barriers that hinder a diverse influx. I think the real essence lies in inclusion—how genuinely welcomed diverse individuals feel.

This article is for those who acknowledge and recognize diversity and its benefits but are wondering how to take meaningful action towards it in the workplace.

A Shift Towards a Learning-and-Effectiveness Paradigm

Connecting diversity with financial success oversimplifies. Shifting to a “learning-and-effectiveness paradigm” focuses on using diverse experiences for innovation. Just mere diversity doesn’t automatically make a company effective. It’s crucial to reshape practices, promote a learning culture, value perspectives, and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

To benefit from diversity, address issues, set clear goals, and hold people accountable. This approach helps organizations unleash workforce potential, driving innovation and ensuring success in our diverse world. Shift from focusing on demographic diversity to leveraging diverse experiences.

Inclusion is not a strategy to help people fit into the systems and structures that already exist. It is about reshaping those systems and structures to make space for everyone.

The learning-and-effectiveness paradigm embodies this reshaping, emphasizing the need for organizations to evolve beyond superficial diversity initiatives and embed inclusivity into their DNA.

Continuous Action and Conscious Effort

Just having diversity without changing how things work in the organization doesn’t work well.

Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.

This means companies need to do more than just show they have diverse people; they need to change the whole culture. To truly care about diversity, you have to be inclusive. Inclusion needs ongoing effort and intentional actions. It’s not just a workplace thing; it’s a way of life.

Everyone, not just leaders, needs to actively take part in creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong. Reflecting on our actions, biases, and contributions is essential for change and connects our personal and professional lives.

The 10 Step Diversity & Inclusion Blueprint

  1. Awareness of Privilege

Recognizing privilege is not just the right thing to do; but a strategic move for creating an inclusive culture. The first step is being aware of privilege, which helps in making everyone feel seen and valued. It’s like investing in the emotional intelligence of the workforce.

The best way to start is by admitting that you have privilege and benefit from it, even if you didn’t ask for it. Nobody expects you to feel guilty, but it’s crucial to acknowledge and understand how it affects your life.

  1. Honesty About the Problem

Being honest about diversity issues supports change through transparency. Honest talks help find specific and effective solutions.

To make progress, organizations should face challenges directly and encourage open conversations about diversity.

To understand where your team stands on diversity, start with basic metrics that matter to you. Document things like microaggressions, talk-to-listen ratio, how often someone’s words are “translated”, and who speaks last in meetings.

  1. Commitment to Change

Real commitment drives meaningful changes in organizations. It’s not just a one-time promise but an ongoing effort. This strong determination pushes organizations to achieve lasting inclusivity. Accenture tops Refinitiv’s Diversity and Inclusion Index because it consistently works hard to create a sense of belonging and equality.

  1. Starting Conversations

Starting conversations is crucial for changing workplace culture. Conversations bring in new ideas and encourage innovation. They help people understand each other, question assumptions, and create a more inclusive environment. If your company doesn’t already value diversity and inclusion, you need to get people ready for it. Begin conversations and highlight situations where privilege is visible. Trying to increase diversity without talking about it can backfire and make the work environment unfriendly.

  1. Avoiding Offloading to HR

Understanding that diversity is everyone’s responsibility aligns with industry views. Depending only on HR can narrow down initiatives. Diversity isn’t just HR’s concern; it’s a shared responsibility.

Consider the images and skin tones in your marketing ads. In sales, notice who represents the company at events. Even if you don’t make final hiring decisions, you still have the power to make positive changes.

  1. Diversifying Personal Networks

Actively making your personal networks more diverse fits with the idea of broadening your perspectives. Your personal networks are pathways for connecting with diverse talents. The people you know influence how you see the world. Actively adding diversity to your networks not only makes your life more interesting but also helps create a more inclusive workplace.

While changing company policies takes time, you can immediately control the diversity of your personal network. People naturally support those they know, and if everyone in your network is similar to you, nothing really changes. But if you intentionally create a diverse network, you’ll be more willing to help people from various backgrounds.

  1. Recruiting in New Places

To attract diverse talent, broaden your recruitment strategies. If you’re involved in hiring, there are easy ways to increase diversity. Attend job fairs, visit college campuses that are rarely visited for recruitment, and advertise in places where people from various backgrounds get information, like newspapers, and websites other than the mainstream ones.

  1. Building the Best Team

Choosing candidates based only on qualifications may not always be the best hiring strategy. Sometimes, it’s better to intentionally bring in someone without all the qualifications for a learnable position because their experience can complement your team in a more well-rounded way.

  1. Reviewing Written Policies

Checking written policies for fairness aligns with the value of inclusivity. Policies shape organizational culture, and regular reviews make sure they keep up with changing diversity standards.

It’s a significant effort, often involving seeking best practices. Here are a few areas to review (or create) policies:

  • Check if benefits exclude any specific groups.
  • Differentiate between thoughtful (we thought this would help) and reasonable (required by law) accommodations.
  • Consider religious accommodations like diet, prayer times, holy days, and dress.
  • Examine floating holiday schedules.
  • Evaluate flexible office hours for primary caregivers (working moms, guardians, people care-taking aged persons at home, etc).
  1. After-Work Gatherings

Planning after-work events with everyone in mind shows an understanding of diverse preferences. Inclusive gatherings bring the team closer and create a sense of belonging for everyone.

Consider common meeting places and times for office parties. Who usually gets invited? Instead of strict rules, keep things flexible so most people can join in.

Speak Up, Stand Together, Be an Ally

Achieving true diversity and inclusion in the workplace requires a multifaceted approach. If you are in a marginalized group, admittedly nothing will likely change without the actions of someone in power. But that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking up and asking to be heard as this often bring the issues to the public awareness.

Also recognize that most people exist in both privileged and marginalized groups, depending on the type of diversity, and can still find a way to be an ally of other groups.

Here’s a Handbook on Diversity and Inclusion by CecureUs to help you get started. This is designed specifically for recruiters. Reach out to us for more DEI resources.

Please reach out to us for any queries on Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace.

For more blogs and articles, visit our official website. Contact us for workshops and queries related to POSHEAP (Employee Assistance Program,) and Diversity and Inclusion.

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