Leading a Diversified and Inclusive Team
The diversified and inclusive team
Creating a business culture that is diversified and inclusive (DI) is so much more than our preceding generation’s concepts of filling quotas and satisfying affirmative action requirements. DI cultures address the needs of previously underrepresented people in the workforce. This includes single parents, veterans, the elderly or very young, women, various ethnicities, the differently-abled, etc. All of whom bring to the workforce unique thought processes, creativity, innovation and a range of work styles. And yet, DI means more than hiring the under-represented. DI is firmly rooted in including, respecting and giving appreciation for the efforts brought forth from all team members. It’s about engaging every employee in a culture that breeds loyalty and company-promotion.
The benefits of creating a DI culture
A DI workforce not only contributes creatively, but they are also an effective recruitment tool since many employees look for inclusive environments in which to work. With the birth of online tools like Glassdoor, these environments are easier to find and flock toward. In addition to attracting talent, a DI culture can identify new talent pools. Consider the hidden talents previously uncultivated in the veteran society, home-bound culture or single-parent workforce. While obstacles previously made it difficult for these employees to find suitable work in a traditional environment, inclusive environments open the opportunities for these workers to now, join the workforce. Similarly, diversified companies are more apt to connect with a wider array of customers.
Inclusive cultures have also reported a 12% decline in turnover rates. 77% of surveyed executives report a strong support of DI cultures, yet only 40% of employees believe their work environment satisfies the definition. Discouragingly, 24% of employees report feeling personally discriminated against. So why aren’t leaders and companies taking advantage of the DI benefits? Typically, failed prior attempts and time restraints are leading causes, but as the business temperature changes, DI is fast becoming a crucial means to surviving the ever-changing technical and economic fluctuations. Leaders who refuse to give it serious consideration risk becoming irrelevant and driving their company into bankruptcy.
Finally, time and again we’ve witnessed the benefits of engaged employees; better production, higher retention rates, innovation, loyalty, keeping valued employees and company promotion. All of which benefit a company’s bottom line. Diversification and inclusive environments engage a wider array of employees allowing their company to generate more income at a more efficient, sustainable rate.
Cultivating a DI Culture
Leaders can cultivate a sustainable DI culture by first, surveying their current climate. Evaluate where the company leadership stands on the issues and how the team feels the culture reflects DI values. Listen to your team members and your leadership and observe the way they interact. Consider building a team, passionate about DI, to survey and then analyze the information received.
Identify where team informal rules contain conscious and unconscious biases. Identify where differences are not celebrated or where they are discouraged. For example, making special considerations for remote employees with convenient meeting times for those who live in different time zones or need to accommodate childcare or therapy. Minor changes like distributing materials ahead of time to allow for translation, altering the venue to encourage remote or differently-abled attendance, can permit a more inclusive environment for a wider array of employees.
Once the obstacles to a DI culture are unearthed, encourage the team to develop a plan to improve the status quo. Ensure that the strategy aligns with company branding and is workable and then implement the strategy. Clearly communicate the strategy to the team and to the outside world. Consider making your DI strategy a part of your company’s social media, community outreach (encouraging team volunteerism in a variety of organizations can promote diversity as well as create company community outside the building walls), and resourcing.
Finally, monitor the success of your DI strategy. Make the planning part of your employee review process. Provide education opportunities for all leaders. Re-evaluate the impact of your DI plan on your community and the level of employee engagement. Continue to listen for overt and hidden biases or reports of seclusion or discrimination. Where necessary, re-evaluate, adjust the strategy and implement new steps to ensure an engaging diversified and inclusive company culture.
Companies who are successful at creating and maintaining a DI culture retain and hire hidden talent, create loyal employees who promote the company brand from within and connect with a larger sector of their community and customer base. In short, DI cultures are not about quotas, they’re about surviving the tumultuous economic climate, improving the company’s bottom line, and recognizing the moral obligation that leaders have toward those they lead.