Imagine you’re on a rec league team, playing pickup basketball games once a week. You don’t know the people you’re playing with, and none of them make an effort to include you in sideline chit-chat or the inside jokes they share. You definitely wouldn’t call this an inclusive group, and you probably wouldn’t show up for many more games.
Now apply that situation to work. Would you be happy in the office if nobody makes an effort to include you in social conversations or makes no effort to learn more about your background? Would you be willing to put forth extra effort for a place where you don’t feel you belong? This is why creating an inclusive culture is essential to your organization’s success.
What does inclusion mean?
Before going forward, it’s a good idea to define what inclusion is, and how it differs from diversity. Simply put, having a diverse roster of employees won’t make a difference to a company’s bottom line if those individuals do not feel welcomed. Inclusion is necessary to make any diversity efforts succeed. Companies can use a variety of training, effective communication and working to embrace an employee’s uniqueness to help build an inclusive culture.
As noted earlier, creating a culture of inclusion allows employees of varied backgrounds to thrive. Bringing this rich variety of backgrounds and experiences to the workplace is a proven way to improve company performance in ways that make it to the bottom line. A recent McKinsey study found companies with executive diversity were consistently more profitable than companies with less diversity among executives, so, it’s clear that inclusion and diversity efforts are vital to building a successful company.
Do you have an inclusive workforce?
Wondering if your organization is inclusive? Here are some questions to ask:
- Does everyone have a voice? Inclusive organizations create an environment where people are heard and are not fearful of sharing their thoughts.
- Can your people be authentic? Can employees express who they are, or are they asked to be like everyone else? Inclusive organizations allow employees to be true to who they are.
- Are people valued?
- Can employees learn and grow? Inclusive organizations offer training and development programs to provide growth opportunities for all.
- Is the organization aligned? Inclusive organizations have executive support for inclusion (research from Deloitte notes 38 percent of companies have the CEO as the executive sponsor of D&I programs), and clearly communicate the strategic rationale for inclusion widely.
How to become a more inclusive workplace
If you believe your organization has work to do to become more inclusive, consider building more training around inclusivity as part of your ongoing employee development program. Also, consider adding Employee Resource Groups. These employee-led groups can support the unique challenges faced by underrepresented groups. Finally, look at diversity when selecting leaders. When employees see leaders who look like them, they have a deeper sense of belonging.