Inclusivity matters. Research shows that diverse teams are better equipped to anticipate the shifting needs of consumers and solve problems that might interfere with business success. Yet, research also shows that many businesses aren’t working terribly hard to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive.
The same study that found such amazing impacts from diversity in business leadership has noted that few businesses have added new executives with ethnic minority backgrounds, and even fewer have added female executives to their teams.
To some, diversity and inclusion in business are threatening concepts — but in reality, these concepts promise to make a workplace safer, more productive and more enjoyable for everyone. To prove it, here are a few hallmarks of an inclusive company culture, which every business leader should strive to achieve:
The Workplace Is a Collaborative Environment
The first step toward an inclusive company culture is developing a collaborative environment, in which employees and leaders feel comfortable working to achieve common goals. Collaborative environments tend to unify the company culture as more workers interact, sharing their expertise and building rapport with one another. If an organization is diverse, collaboration brings together various perspectives to strengthen business strategy.
Employees Are Valued
Employers with high employee turnover rates are unlikely to be inclusive because they likely aren’t doing much to make their workforce feel valued. When an employee is valued, they correctly believe their organization depends on their unique skills and opinions. Demonstrating trust and respect are important keys to building a sense of value in a workforce.
Employees Feel They Have a Voice
Employees who “have a voice” are encouraged to actively participate in decision-making processes. They are invited into spaces where decisions are made, and they are able to influence outcomes, especially when it comes to issues affecting their positions. As a result, employees feel more comfortable speaking up in meetings or talking with their supervisors, so organizations gain more insight from all levels of the workforce.
Employees Sense a Connection to the Company
When employees feel disengaged from their work, they develop cynical attitudes toward their employer and perhaps employment in general. This can be incredibly disruptive to a workplace, creating a negative atmosphere that devastates morale and productivity. In contrast, an employee who is actively valued by their employer will develop a sense of belonging that encourages the worker to go above and beyond while pursuing shared goals.
Employees Recognize Their Unique Impact
As much as employees like to feel connected to their places of work, they don’t like the idea of being just another faceless paper-pusher. Inclusive organizations help each employee develop a sense of uniqueness, highlighting and celebrating individual strengths. Business leaders might consider taking a leadership course to gain the understanding and skill for developing employees’ professional skills in this way.
Employees Have Access to Resources
Employees need resources to feel comfortable in their workplace and develop personally and professionally. Some of the most important resources for employees are employee resource groups (ERGs) which are employee-led groups that help their organizations develop effective policies and practices. ERGs are essential for lasting inclusivity as they amplify the voices of more marginalized groups.
Employees and Leaders Learn and Develop
Organizations that emphasize inclusivity often boast strong career development initiatives to help employees and leaders continue to learn and improve. Mentorship programs, education funding, cross-training programs, e-learning support and other learning opportunities can be offered by employers as a way to encourage workers and leaders to continue building their knowledge and skill.
Employees and Leaders Are Strategically Aligned
Strategically, developing an inclusive workplace is important for both employees and leadership, who benefit from diversity and progressive policies in different ways. Regardless, organizations should work to align the entire workforce in the effort to improve diversity and inclusivity, which makes for a cohesive and successful inclusive culture.
It is one thing for an organization to say they are working toward greater diversity; it is another thing entirely for business leaders to commit to fostering inclusivity in their workplace culture. In working toward workplace characteristics like valued and supported employees, leaders can build stronger companies that will thrive into the future.