One of the best ways to recruit, engage and retain employees is to create an inclusive workplace culture. Most organizations are already on the diversity and inclusion bandwagon, but small- and midsize companies may be considering how to build it into their programming or expand an initiative already in place. While there is no one way, the following eight steps are sure to provide a powerful start and keep you on track.
Lead from the Top: Moving the needle takes a commitment from the top down. Any chink along the chain could impede progress or, even worse, sabotage the credibility of the initiative. The best way to gain commitment is to make diversity and inclusion an organizational goal and include it in performance metrics. Some business areas will require more specific measures, such as recruiters ensuring a diverse candidate pool and hiring managers avoiding homogeneity. Check out this article suggesting eight steps to setting meaningful diversity and inclusion metrics.
Rely on Experience: Building a successful diversity and inclusion initiative requires a unique set of skills. Successful diversity practitioners offer leadership, influence, collaboration, strategy and strong communications skills — written and spoken – in addition to having an excellent command of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. If you don’t already have a subject matter expert managing diversity and inclusion, hire one. And if you do have someone in place, ensure resources are allocated to continue their training and networking with leaders in this space.
Measure Employee Attitudes: Surveying employees to gain insight into the corporate culture is critical. Questions should help establish the level of understanding employees have about the subject, how inclusive they believe the culture to be, the level of trust they have in the company and their management and their perception of organizational commitment. Consider including scaled responses to an age-related question like, “I understand the value that people of different ages can bring to work.” Or “I enjoy working with colleagues older than me.” Use pulse surveys for intermittent checks, but administer employee surveys annually to measure progress toward goals.
Training is Key: Training is one of the best ways for employees to understand how their perceptions may be sabotaging inclusive words and behaviors. Sometimes it’s as easy as a short video at a team meeting and a facilitated exchange. Other times, organizations may require a deep dive on unconscious bias and how it negatively impacts certain groups of people. A report by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicates that while more than half of North American organizations (56%) provide training on non-discrimination, regulatory compliance and embracing differences, more can be done. It’s one thing to explain what it means, but something altogether to demonstrate what good inclusion practices look like and how to incorporate them in their learning and development plans.