How to Build a Diverse & Inclusive Workplace
Leveraging the diversity in your organization is crucial for succeeding in a global marketplace or with a highly diverse customer base. Having a variety of different employees with different skills and backgrounds gives you an advantage when it comes to innovation, creativity and a wide variety of other important business skills.
A diverse organization includes people of different age groups, genders, language and cultural backgrounds as well as employees who have different types of work experience.
Diverse teams are more innovative, more creative and more likely to come up with unique and original ideas that those that are more homogeneous. Diversity is important to reduce “groupthink” where people change their own beliefs and ideas in order to fit in with the ideas of the larger group. Diverse teams are also more flexible and productive which saves organizations time and money. Having a diverse and inclusive organization leads to increased employee and customer loyalty.
In order to attract diverse employees that will help your organization succeed, it’s important to create a culture that not only values diversity, but one that is truly inclusive.
The Importance of Both Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity exists in almost every organization. However, inclusion may not. Not only is it important to ensure that employees from a variety of different ages, skills and backgrounds work together in your organization, but it is also important to ensure that each person’s unique skill sets, points of view, thought processes and approaches to problem solving are listened to and considered. Organizations that are “set in their ways” and unwilling to hear new ideas will struggle to compete in a competitive marketplace that rewards those who can adapt to change and be nimble.
In order to create a diverse and inclusive organizational culture, it’s essential that a positive attitude towards differences starts with senior leaders. However, a diversity and inclusion strategy will not be successful if it is only followed by senior leadership or the human resources team. These values need to be built into every level of your organization in order for the strategy to come to life.
An effective way to do this is to make a strong business case for diversity and inclusion.
The Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion
Aligning your diversity and inclusion strategy with your key organizational objectives can make it much more likely that all levels within your organization will embrace the strategy. Once everyone is aligned to how diversity and inclusion benefits the organization, managers and employees alike will be much more likely to get on board.
Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate how having a variety of diverse ideas and opinions is directly tied to your organization’s business objectives. To do so, outline your key organizational objectives and use specific examples to demonstrate how a diverse organization has an advantage when it comes to accomplishing those goals. Everything you do internally should promote a wiliness to embrace diversity. Your corporate values, leadership competencies, problem solving techniques and rewards and recognition programs need to cultivate an inclusive workplace culture.
Key Aspects of a Diversity & Inclusion Strategy
There are a number of key aspects to a diversity and inclusion strategy. They include:
- Defining diversity and inclusion objectives
- Linking diversity and inclusion with outcomes that matter to your organizational leaders
- Building a diverse workforce by recruiting through a variety of channels
- Creating career paths for advancement for diverse talent
It’s important to consider all of these aspects when you are developing your organization’s strategy. From there you can evaluate where you current strengths are and where you may need assistance to shift your culture to one that fully excels at maximizing diversity and demonstrating inclusion.
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.