Diversity and inclusion are a major part of doing business these days. Building an inclusive workplace is now a CEO-level concern, especially with the growth of globalization and digitization. Today a company can have offices across numerous states, even countries, so workplace culture is even more crucial to a company’s success.
The ABCs of D & I
Let’s take a closer look at these two terms – diversity and inclusion – often used interchangeably or together, creating what’s known as D & I. Diversity refers to who’s at work, their varying gender, age, religion, race, sexual orientation, abilities and the like.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is more about how those people feel at work. Do they feel welcomed, valued, respected, supported, and heard? Employing people from different ethnic backgrounds does little for your bottom line if they do not feel able to offer their particular perspective and contribute to the company’s overall performance.
What Does An Inclusive Workplace Culture Look Like
An inclusive workplace is a company that aligns their diversity practices with their organizational goals. Inclusion happens on a day-to-day basis, through interactions that occur during onboarding, the office holiday party, even at the exit interview. An inclusive workplace has employees connected and feeling like they belong. There’s a larger bond between colleagues from every department. Employees feel like they truly matter, that what they have to offer is valued. So they’re more likely to voice their opinions, cooperate, and even be more productive. After all, we spend a lot of time at work, so the environment and workplace culture for the most part can feel like a second family, your work family.
The Importance of Fostering an Inclusive Workplace
Workplace culture fosters collaboration and community. A culture of inclusion can truly be powerful for a business. In fact, Forbes reports that an inclusive workplace is six times more likely to be innovative and meet or surpass financial goals. With a great workplace culture, employees feel they can be their true selves at work. They’re more engaged and have a higher level of wellbeing.
The benefits to an inclusive company culture are multifold and become even more crucial when you fully understand what’s happening in the workforce. For example, CNN Money reports that Millennial and Gen Z generations are the most diverse in history. Only 56% of the 87 million Millennials in the U.S. are white, compared to 72% of the 76 million in the Baby Boomer generation. It’s safe to say the career landscape is changing, and companies have to adapt their workplace culture to make everyone feel welcomed and valued.
Higher Workforce Retention
According to a recent Culture Amp survey, many women in the workforce still feel excluded from decision-making, don’t feel comfortable expressing their opinions, and don’t feel like they can succeed. Imagine how that can affect your company or brand. Think higher turnover rate and lower retention. A recent Work Institute retention report found the top three reasons for leaving a place of work are career development, work-life balance, and management behavior.
Issues such as lack of growth and development opportunities, long commutes and lack of schedule flexibility, as well as poor communication, lack of professionalism and lack of support on management’s part, were cited as key factors. If you have an inclusive workplace, many issues within each of those categories are naturally addressed.
For example, if your employees work long hours on a regular basis, they don’t have time for their personal lives, which translates to employees not feeling valued—an inclusion characteristic. They won’t feel supported, again part of a company’s D & I, or that you have their best interest in mind. Employees want to feel that they matter. Hospitality and retail have the highest turnover rate, while manufacturing and finance have the lowest in the private sector. For president and CEO of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., “The challenge is in having a culture where all employees feel included.
Real Commitment For Real Results
To see a difference in retention and turnover, your company has to be completely dedicated to an inclusive workplace. Diversity and inclusion require planning and accountability for real results that impact the workplace culture. A true commitment means structuring meetings regularly, identifying real-life scenarios such as language barriers, single-parent caregiving, disabilities, and the like, as well as a means to record feedback regularly and evaluating results.