Creating an inclusive culture isn’t something you and your organisation should do just to tick a few boxes or because the law requires it. No, it’s much more important than that, as is evident from the focus that some of the world’s most successful organisations put on it. Some examples include Goldman Sachs, which has developed and supported over 80 affinity networks and interest forums which provide an opportunity for its employees to share concerns and feedback and develop professional relationships with those from other business units and divisions. Apple is another great example, who state on their website that ‘the most innovative company must also be the most diverse’ and clearly list facts and figures that highlight their progress and ongoing commitment to greater inclusion and diversity.
But why should we follow suit? The answer is simple: inclusivity fosters creativity and helps make an organisation a great place to work. Furthermore, companies that make it their business to understand their employees’ challenges and desires, alongside socio-economic trends such an ageing population, increased global migration and the desire to work flexibly, are able to adapt and thrive.
So how do you ensure that your company is inclusive and offers an environment where people of all races, faiths and gender feel comfortable sharing their ideas and bringing their whole self to work? Well there’s not one simple answer but here are some useful tips…
1. Invest in diversity training
Investing in diversity training and ensuring all employees from top to bottom take part is essential. As you will learn from this training, most bias that takes place is unconscious, meaning we aren’t aware of them. As such, if no diversity training is delivered, these biases will persist, because it’s not possible to overcome something that we are unaware of.
2. Create diversity networks
Create informal groups that provide an opportunity for individuals from similar backgrounds to come together and share ideas. These are groups where employees can make connections that create trust and a feeling of belonging. Where everyone can find community and feel supported.
3. Ensure you’ve got adequate conflict resolution processes
Conflict is a part and parcel of life and there are many aspects within the workplace that can trigger it. This itself is not a bad thing, the issue arises when it’s not properly resolved. To help ensure this conflict is correctly managed it’s important to have a clear resolution process in place, as well as trained staff throughout the business who have ability to inspire change in deeply rooted beliefs to help opposing parties reach resolve.
4. Have an open-door policy, and really mean it
Organisations that truly have inclusive cultures are ones where everyone feels comfortable talking to their peers and leaders about issues such as race, discrimination and gender. And while almost all companies would say that they have an open-door policy that facilitates this, many of their employees would flat-out disagree.
To have a true open-door policy requires leaders within the business to proactively talk to their employees and foster an atmosphere of openness and trust. It means that they listen to their employees and look for a resolution together. And it means literally keeping their door open (when possible!) to give their team members the opportunity to talk with them when an issue arises.
5. Ensure the Leadership Team and the Board are on-board
This is integral; those at the top need to lead by example and be involved from the start. They also need to build an accountability for all those with direct reports. Often, you’ll see the people at the very top saying all of the right things in regards to diversity and inclusion, but when it comes to the implementation by those who are more hands on and who really create the employee experience, something is missing.
Robert Booth, Communications Manager, Bright Horizons