Article Contents

Introduction

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace establish an environment that welcomes everyone. It is a work culture that does not discriminate and instead accepts and embraces the different characteristics and backgrounds of each employee. These characteristics include age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political views, and cultural background.

Diversity is very important in today’s workplace culture. People do business globally. They sell their products and work with people who live overseas. Having a team with diverse backgrounds is crucial. 

Companies require a diverse workforce to create, display and sell their products successfully in this global market.

Inclusion creates employee engagement. It makes your employees feel appreciated, their efforts recognized, and they feel like they belong where they are. Organisations must ensure that they are diverse and have an inclusive atmosphere in addition to employee engagement. 

In this article, we will go through ways you can improve your workplace culture to become more inclusive. 

Diversity Hiring

Diversity hiring is the first step towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace. This does not mean that you must hire candidates from diverse backgrounds to meet some sort of quota or boost your statistics. Hiring diverse candidates is a more complicated issue than that.

Some people believe that diversity hiring does injustice to qualified candidates. They feel that special consideration is given to people from underrepresented backgrounds. 

It seems impossible to be unbiased in the hiring process. This bias is not always conscious. Hiring managers tend to show unconscious bias which then results in a uniform workforce. 

The most common bias is against race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. 

According to Built In’s article “57 Diversity in the Workplace Statistics You Should Know”, in the United States, 78% of the workforce is white. Even though almost half of the population are people of colour, they only make up 22% of the workforce in the US. 

Gender bias is also common in the recruitment process. Hiring managers favour a candidate based on their gender identity. In their report “How stereotypes impair women’s careers in science”, PNAS highlights that men are twice as likely to be hired than women for the same positions. 

People with disabilities also have their struggles with finding employment. In their article “Disability inclusion at work: What it is and why it matters”, Understood shows that in 2018, only 33% of working-age Americans with disabilities were employed.

In additon 45.5% of LGBT workers have experienced not being hired because of their sexual orientation, based on a study by the Williams Institute as outlined in their report “LGBT People’s Experiences of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment”. Even if they were hired, they experienced unfair treatment or have been terminated from their job. 

If you want to learn more about the benefits diverse hires can bring to your business, you can check out our article “The Benefits of Making Diverse Hires to Scale Your Start-Up”. There, we discuss this topic more in-depth.

Acknowledge Unconscious Bias

Despite being familiar with the consequences of bias, sometimes one cannot escape it. As a leader of an organisation, it’s your job to control how far this bias goes and find out what you can do to eliminate it.

Being in a hiring position makes things even more tricky. Hiring managers must learn to avoid judging a book by its cover.

Acknowledging unconscious bias is not enough. Something must be done about it.

That’s where unconscious bias training comes into play. There are arguments that unconscious bias training can backfire and only increase discrimination by claiming that it is involuntary, something we can’t control. 

However, training that focuses on the awareness of unconscious bias and its consequences is not effective. Successful unconscious bias training is one that, despite creating awareness of the bias, also teaches you how to manage your bias and your behaviour. Track your progress so that bias is finally eliminated. 

Removing bias in the hiring process and the treatment of employees improves the work culture, making it inclusive and open to diversity.

Celebrate Diversity

Once you hire people from different backgrounds, they will enrich your business in many ways. Apart from their different perspectives, creative thinking, and problem-solving ideas, they bring their culture too. 

Be open to different cultural backgrounds and celebrate them. 

If you have a diverse team, then it is only fair that you acknowledge and honour multiple religious and cultural practices. That includes holidays such as Easter, Christmas, Eid, and Diwali. It also means offering food options such as Kosher or Halal food. 

All of these gestures are small but powerful. 

Your employees will see that you are truly devoted to diversity and inclusion. Additionally, employee retention will benefit both you and your organisation.

Listen!

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley

While diversity can be easily measured, it’s not as simple when it comes to inclusion. To know the inclusion level of your organisation, you must connect and communicate with your employees.

Come to understand how people feel by listening to their needs. Ask yourself what they are dealing with, and act with the purpose of improving their current situation. To improve the culture in your workplace and assure inclusion you have three options: employee resource groups, focus groups, and employee surveys. 

Listening is crucial in promoting diversity. Knowing that you must listen and creating a listening culture at work are separate processes. Be committed to cultivating diversity and pass that among your personnel as well.

Encouraging your employees to share their past negative experiences and the impact they had on their professional development can be a good place to start. However, you should never pressure your employees into sharing such personal and possibly upsetting information.

It might be considered easy to get your team to speak about their experiences, but you must make sure that they feel listened to. Train your leaders to show a willingness to listen and deal with feedback positively so that your employees know that their struggles are taken into consideration. 

Conclusion

To build a healthy workplace culture, it is essential to ensure diversity and inclusion. 

Companies should not be encouraged to hire by diversity just for the sake of it. Diversity and inclusion bring so much more to the table. You gain new perspectives on various aspects of your business, alongside creative problem solving, increased profits, and other such benefits. 

Hiring diversely, knowing there is unconscious bias in the company and dealing with it properly, celebrating people’s different cultures, listening to them, and making them feel heard is a sure way to get where a company needs to be. 

Diversity and inclusion in a workplace will change the atmosphere of a working environment. It will recognize each employee’s unique qualities and encourage them to show their potential. 

Embracing each other’s differences can be the key to a successful, vibrant company and a healthy work culture.

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Daniel Dippold

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