Over the years, many events have ignited conversations around inclusion and diversity. As a result, CEOs have been quick to create pledges to create more inclusivity and goals around increasing diversity. However, when you sit down and examine progress, you will find very few meaningful inclusive workplace practices. Race, sex, socioeconomic background, education, or sexual orientation, no matter the label you use to classify people, inclusion remains inconsistent in practice.
Since 1999, there have only been 17 black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies. In 2020, the number of women running a Fortune 500 company reached an all-time high: 37. It feels like we’ve been talking about inclusive workplace practices and diversity since I entered the business world. But when you see 17 black CEOs and an all-time high of 37 for women, it is hard to disagree that there has been little progress.
The fintech industry is facing a lack of diversity and inclusive workplace practices. Despite the increasing number of women in senior roles, men still dominate the sector. This is particularly evident in decision-making positions, where women only occupy 27% of all roles.
There is a lack of black engineers in the tech industry. A study found that only 5% of tech workers are black, even though black people make up 13% of the U.S. population.
Finally, there is a lack of openly gay leaders in senior roles. As a result, many LGBTQ+ employees feel uncomfortable or unwilling to come out at work. This is even though many companies are taking measures to create inclusive workplace practices for LGBTQ+ employees.
Steps to Creating Inclusive Workplace Practices
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is long overdue. It is time to move beyond lip service and start executing. These strategies will help you develop actionable inclusive workplace practices. Inclusion and diversity are the right things to do because we are in this together, and together we can do so much more.
Start with why
When it comes to creating inclusive workplace practices, it is crucial to start with the why. Why do you want to create a more inclusive workplace? What are your motivations? There are many reasons why inclusion is important, and it is essential to identify those reasons for your organization.
Some of the reasons why you should create inclusive workplace practices include the following:
- Inclusion strengthens teams and organizations. When everyone feels like they belong and can contribute their perspectives, it strengthens teams and organizations.
- Inclusive workplace practices promote creativity and innovation. When everyone feels they can share their ideas, it leads to greater creativity and innovation.
- Inclusion leads to better outcomes. When everyone is included and has a voice, it leads to better organizational results.
- Inclusive workplace practices are the right thing to do. We should strive for inclusion because it is the right thing to do, not just because it makes good business sense.
Helping the organization understand why inclusive workplace practices are important makes it easier to take the necessary steps to create a more inclusive workplace.
Recognize bias to create inclusive workplace practices
Recognizing bias is the first step in creating inclusive workplace practices. When employees are aware of their own biases, it is easier to take steps to overcome them. Recognizing bias also helps us be more aware of how we treat others and how our actions might limit our opportunities.
There are many different types of bias, and it is crucial to be aware of them. Some of the most common types of bias include the following:
When we are aware of these biases, it is easier to take steps to overcome them. It is also vital to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their biases and recognizing them when they occur. This open dialogue will help to create inclusive workplace practices.
Reshape the Misson and Values to Include Diversity and Inclusion
Many organizations have a mission statement and values focused on financial success. While financial success is crucial, it is not the only thing organizations should include in their mission statement and values. You should also have diversity and inclusion statements to create inclusive workplace practices.
When you rewrite your mission statement and values to include diversity and inclusion, it sends a clear message that these are important priorities in your workplace. It also demonstrates your commitment to creating inclusive workplace practices.
There are many ways to include diversity and inclusion in your mission statement and values. Some examples include the following:
- Promote diversity and inclusion as essential components of the organization’s culture.
- Commit to creating a workplace where everyone is welcome and can participate equally.
- Acknowledge that the organization is committed to creating an environment where all voices are heard.
- Pledge to eliminate bias in all forms in the workplace.
- Promise equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.
When you rewrite your mission statement and values to include diversity and inclusion, you clearly say that inclusive workplace practices are essential priorities for your organization.
Inclusive workplace practices start with recruitment
One of the best ways to create inclusive workplace practices is to design diverse and inclusive recruitment initiatives. Attracting a diverse group of job seekers conveys that inclusion is a priority for your organization. It also makes it clear that inclusive workplace practices are a priority.
There are many different ways to design diverse and inclusive recruitment initiatives. Some examples include the following:
- Make a commitment to diversity and inclusion in your job postings.
- Use targeted recruiting methods to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
- Promote inclusion in your interview process.
- Evaluate candidates based on their qualifications, not their personal characteristics.
When you design diverse and inclusive recruitment initiatives, you attract more diverse employees, which creates inclusive workplace practices.
Offer Inclusive Leadership training
It is crucial to offer inclusive leadership training to create inclusive workplace practices. This training can help employees learn how to identify and overcome bias in the workplace. It can also help employees understand how to create an inclusive environment where all voices are heard.
You should offer inclusive leadership training to all employees, not just managers and leaders. When all employees have access to this training, it sends a clear message that inclusive practices are a priority for your organization.
There are many different ways to provide inclusive leadership training. Some examples include the following:
- Offer online training modules that employees can complete at their own pace.
- Host in-person workshops that employees can attend live or online.
- Create learning modules that focus on specific topics, such as racial bias or gender bias.
When you offer inclusive leadership training, you create inclusive workplace practices.
Conduct Sensitivity Training
One of the most important ways to create inclusive workplace practices is to conduct sensitivity training. This training helps employees learn how to be aware of and respect differences and can help prevent discrimination and harassment. It can also help employees feel more comfortable and confident speaking up if they experience or witness any inappropriate behavior.
Sensitivity training should be mandatory for all employees and regularly updated to reflect new diversity and inclusion trends. You should also train managers on how to handle inclusion-related issues, and they should be held accountable for executing inclusive workplace practices by creating a respectful and inclusive work environment.
Hold leaders accountable for diverse and inclusive workplace practices
Creating a culture of inclusion starts from the top. Therefore, organizations must hold their leaders accountable for diversity and inclusive workplace practices. Leaders must be role models for inclusion and be held accountable for creating an inclusive environment where all employees feel welcome and valued. Leaders must also be held accountable for promoting diversity and inclusion in their interactions with clients, suppliers, and other business partners.
Promote equity and inclusion in policies and practices
Leaders should promote equity and inclusion in their policies and practices. This means that employees should be treated fairly and equitably, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. It also means that the organization’s policies and practices should reflect a diverse and inclusive workplace. For example, an organization should have a policy that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and a dress code that includes gender expressions.
Encourage employee engagement
Employees are more likely to feel included when they are engaged in their work. Leaders should encourage employee engagement through meaningful work assignments, opportunities for career growth, and a sense of ownership over their work. Leaders who create inclusive workplace practices have employees who are engaged in their work and feel like they belong to the organization because they feel included.
Communicate openly and frequently about your inclusive workplace practices
One of the most important things a leader can do to create inclusive workplace practices is to communicate openly and frequently about diversity and inclusion. They should provide employees with information about their diversity and inclusion initiatives and encourage them to openly discuss these topics. Employees should feel like they can openly discuss their positive and negative inclusion experiences without fear of retribution. Diversity and inclusion should be an ongoing conversation, not a one-time event.
Create opportunities for social interaction
Social interaction is an integral part of inclusive workplace practices. Leaders should create opportunities for social interaction between employees of different backgrounds. Leaders can do this through employee resource groups, mentorship programs, or other initiatives that promote interaction between employees of diverse backgrounds.
Recognize and celebrate differences
Leaders should recognize and celebrate the differences that make their employees unique. This includes differences in race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. Acknowledging and celebrating these differences helps employees feel included in the workplace. It also helps create inclusive workplace practices.
Creating an inclusive workplace is the right thing to do and good for business. A study by Deloitte found that companies with a more diverse workforce perform better financially than those without inclusion initiatives. So what are you waiting for? Start implementing these inclusive workplace practices.