An organization is diverse if it has in its workforce people of various ages, gender, races, religion, social background, skill sets, etc. But workplace inclusion involves more than recruiting a group of people from different backgrounds. An inclusive workplace doesn’t just boast of a diverse community of people. It values the diverse voices present, making sure that their contributions count. Diversity is important, but inclusion is even more important because it helps you retain the diverse talents you have employed.
Studies so far indicate that when employees feel safe in their workplace, having no fear of being judged because of their religion, gender, age, or race, their work output improves considerably. It is not surprising, therefore, that a good number of organizations are creating a diverse and inclusive environment for their employees. On the other hand, a work environment that lacks these can contribute to increased employee turnover. Considering the benefits of diversity and inclusion, we will, in this post, discuss 15 ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
1. Acknowledge the need for diversity
The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that the problem exists. Pretending not to notice any biases in the workplace does not help anybody. It only makes matters worse. Some workers may not directly inform you about the challenges employees face, which often results from their being different from the rest of the staff. It is up to HR to detect and resolve these issues if you want to have a productive workforce.
2. Adjust your recruitment criteria
Having a diverse workspace starts from the HR desk. Research has shown that the recruitment process is generally biased and unfair. Some job seekers, in a bid to improve their chances of getting a fair hire, remove from their resume information such as their nationality, religion, and marital status that may prove to be a basis for prejudice.
Hence, you want to modify your hiring process to be inclusive. For instance, if you hire for culture fit, you want to ensure that it is not biased. State clearly in the job requirements that you welcome a diverse range of personalities and let your body of interviewers reflect this diversity you claim.
3. Update your language
Ensure that your policies, documentation, or any official papers are worded right. Consider dropping words that are racially charged for less offensive ones. For instance, rather than use "whitelist" and "blacklist" to indicate the propriety of entities, some organizations have adopted the less controversial "allowlist".
4. Recognize all religions and cultures
A multicultural and multi-religious workforce will attract the best talents to your team. In fact, the conversion about diversity and inclusion is mostly tilted toward embracing different religions and multiple ethnicities under one ecosystem. While we advise fostering a multicultural or multi-religious work environment, it is still important to ensure that each new hire meets up to the standard of the organization.
5. Use independent facilitators to conduct focus groups
Getting comprehensive and timely feedback from employees can help improve your people analytics strategy and outcome. Focus groups provide avenues to learn about your employees and expose areas in company operations that need upgrading. These groups are best facilitated by an independent company that advocates for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Using outside groups who cannot influence the outcome of the survey enables employees to freely air their opinions.
6. Create an enabling atmosphere for one-on-one discussions
Build an open relationship with your employees. Creating and promoting a culture where the management is approachable makes it easy for employees to open up to HR about the insecurities they’re dealing with in the workplace, which in the long run also helps to improve employee experience and employee relations. The more you know about your employees, the more equipped you are to improve their working conditions.
7. Make your promotion evaluation process transparent
High-performing employees should be duly compensated with a raise or promotion without prejudice or bias. Consider making your employee appraisal process as transparent as possible. This will boost the confidence of employees in the integrity of the process and the authenticity of the results. Since recognitions and promotions are merit-based, HR would send the wrong signal if the right candidate is passed over.
8. Enforce anti-discriminatory policies
Set and implement policies against discrimination, starting from the executive level. Certain actions or comments that may pass as unconscious prejudice could really threaten the comfort of your employees. This is an effective strategy for reducing employee turnover.
9. Build a multi-generational workforce
It would be best not to segregate between persons of varying age groups. Gen Z professionals, for example, may be more tech-savvy than others, but the analog perspective of older millennials can help establish an invaluable balance in the workspace. Have a communication model that accommodates the digitally-inclined generations, as well as the older millennials.
10. Embrace a multilingual workforce
An effective strategy that can help any organization improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace is having a multilingual team. This is also an added advantage to your organization, as translation and localization services can be sourced within the firm. If your organization operates in different parts of the world, it would be best to consider your employees' language barriers and preferences. Allowing them to communicate in their native language fosters a general sense of inclusion.
11. Let your managerial team reflect your drive towards DE&I
The managerial team of an organization is often viewed as a reflection of the company’s entire workforce. You should have an executive body that mirrors a diverse and inclusive culture. When you have a good number of minority groups adequately represented on the executive board, it helps to assure your employees that their individual interests will be reasonably considered, irrespective of their background.
12. Improve your complaints/feedback system
Many employees find it challenging to approach management with a complaint or report another employee or supervisor when they feel they have been treated unfairly. A seamless complaint/employee feedback system can help to encourage employees to come forward and air their dissatisfaction with the system, and can help HR and management create a better work ecosystem. Rather than a formal complaint system that involves formal hearings and corporate actions, offer informal mediation.
13. Implement cross-training programs
It is often common for a person to be assigned a role typical to their demographic. For instance, there are usually more women than men in sales. A cross-training program enables employees to work in various roles within the organization. The hybrid role encourages a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
14. Create a team of diversity managers
An effective way to ensure the sustenance of your diversity and inclusion goals is to have a team or department that monitors and manages the process. Set up a team to manage diversity within the workplace. Putting a team in charge of diversity makes them responsible for the success of your diverse workforce. The diversity manager will create and implement actions that promote diversity.
15. Foster diverse thinking
To foster diverse thinking in your organization, you might need to do more than just recruit a diverse range of talents. Each new hire comes with a different way of thinking or seeing a problem. This creates a system where different ideas and thinking patterns precipitate novel solutions. This could spice up the operations of the organization. Each employee should also be willing to learn and accept the thinking pattern of others.
Over to You
Now that you know how to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, the rest is up to you. Keep in mind that implementing each of these strategies works best when they are in line with labor and employment laws. Partnering with a PEO, on the other hand, can help both small and big organizations avoid compliance issues and offer their employees the best work experience.