Diversity and Inclusion has been a hot topic in the corporate world in recent years. But it’s no longer just buzzwords or new fangy trends, many companies are taking it seriously and truly realizing its importance in both society and their bottom line. A 2017 study from the Boston Consulting Group stated that “Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%.”
E-commerce giant Alibaba, for example, credits much of its success to their dedication to gender equality. More than a third of Alibaba’s founders are women. CEO Jack Ma has even publicly said that “women’s perseverance and attention to details will outperform men in the age of robotics and machine learning.” Meanwhile, global consulting firm Accenture has exhibited real accountability and commitment to diversity by being one of the first companies to share its workforce demographics publicly.
Diversity and Inclusion, while two different concepts, need to work together to ensure real equality in the workplace. Diversity propels companies to take a closer look at their hiring practices and how they promote employees and make improvements to have a more diverse workplace demographic. Inclusion is the next critical step, wherein companies cultivate a workplace culture that allows all employees, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or ethnicity, to thrive, contribute and find success. Companies can keep trying to hire diversely but what comes after hiring is the real test.
Here are some tips to successfully have a Diverse and Inclusive workplace:
1. Include Overlooked Voices
Take a look at your current workforce. Are you overlooking talents who might give you better insight? It’s very likely that there’s already some level of diversity in your workplace, put that to good use and actively give them a voice on how your workplace can be more inclusive. Really listen to their thoughts and ideas, with respect and without judgment.
2. Take the Lead
You cannot expect employees to fall in line with diversity and inclusion policies if they don’t see their leaders taking it seriously. Make diversity and inclusion a priority for managers and executives for employees to follow suit. It isn’t just about following do’s and don’ts, it may require challenging beliefs that people have long held that is getting in the way of your workplace being diverse and inclusive.
3. It’s a Continuing Effort
You can’t expect to have an inclusive workplace culture after one training – no matter how intense. Changing your company environment to be more inclusive involves challenging beliefs that your employees – and you yourself – may have held for all of their lives. There needs to be a deep understanding of how certain actions, words and beliefs are damaging and why changing it is better for all. And this understanding needs to be reinforced on a regular basis.
4. Empower Your Workforce’s Voice
Don’t let Diversity and Inclusion be just part of your company policy that everyone ignores. Actively let your employees know that their voices are encouraged and need to be heard in transforming your workplace into a more inclusive environment. Make it a part of your meeting discussions or even one-on-one evaluations. You can even designate a steering committee for this sole purpose, but make sure it’s part of their actual work and not an unpaid task. This way everyone will see that the organization is serious and committed to diversity and inclusion.
The Rise and Lead Summit is a platform for women in leadership and companies who are actively advancing women’s roles in their respective organizations. It was designed to inspire, educate and empower women in business and the organisations who support them on key topics including diversity and inclusion. Join the second annual Rise and Lead Summit this September 2019 by registering for tickets here.
Ebere Akadiri is an accomplished entrepreneur and an advocate for women in leadership. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.