Forbes claims that creating an inclusive environment is the first step to fostering employee wellness. Inclusion is more than a company’s hiring practices; it’s ensuring everyone feels respected and welcome in the workplace. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace often fail due to a lack of a comprehensive understanding of inclusion and equity. Too often, inclusion is seen as a zero-tolerance policy for slurs, physical and verbal threats while ignoring the existence of micro-aggressions and cultural insensitivities. Simply not talking about characteristics like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and gender expression, just to name a few, is not inclusion or equity. It often creates a very isolating and discouraging work environment for marginalized groups. Fostering an equitable environment is not believing everyone should be treated equally; it’s about recognizing our differences and learning how to celebrate and best utilize these differences. Bak USA has inclusion practices to look up to. Their HR team celebrates the company’s diversity by hosting potluck parties to showcase the 14 nationalities that make up its workforce.
Companies can create a beneficial workspace by learning the difference between equity and equality and ensuring employees understand the distinction between the two. Once this distinction is made, businesses can develop resources and workshops to help create equity. This includes equal access to company benefits and human resources. It’s essential to recognize that for many minority groups, these common workplace resources have failed them in the past and caused more harm than good, so to ensure everyone feels confident in utilizing the resources, accommodations should be made. One way for companies to help underrepresented groups feel confident voicing their concerns and using company resources is constantly showing a commitment to listen. Implementing regular surveys and having focus groups to pinpoint weak spots in the organization’s inclusion practices will show all employees that their voices are heard and valued.
Diversity and inclusion workshops should be a priority for all employees to complete with supplemental information and support available to them at all times. It is vital to have a leadership team that values diversity and is a role model for the office. Educating leadership on inclusion and the unique role they play in the workplace will pave the road for success in all aspects of the company. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests creating an Inclusion Council of 8-12 leaders from different backgrounds, one or two levels under CEO that are passionate about inclusion in the office. The Inclusion Council should be dedicated to addressing the unique challenges faced by underrepresented employees, review feedback from the workspace, troubleshoot challenges, and be a line of communication between senior leadership and C-Suite executives.
Meetings play a considerable role in the office culture, so it’s crucial to adhere to some best practices laid out by SHRM to ensure everyone has an influential role in the meeting. Distribute discussion points, questions, and any materials beforehand so everyone has adequate time to prepare. Do not neglect teleworkers if you have them- be conscious of time zones, technology needs, and acknowledge their presence in meetings by asking them questions, greeting them, and pausing to give them a chance to speak. Always give credit to those that share new ideas, call attention to colleagues that interrupt others, and try not to explain concepts everyone in the room already understands as it can come over condescending.
Lastly, SHRM suggests benchmarking inclusion and culture before creating a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative to better understand the company’s needs. Then ensure effective communication of goals and share the new measures being done to reach these goals. Ultimately, creating an inclusive work environment is establishing a culture of collective responsibility that gives everyone a role in the wellbeing of the workplace. Fostering an inclusive environment is an ongoing process that relies on a commitment to education, trust, and a willingness to change. Diverse companies show much more significant gains and innovation than homogenous ones, and inclusion and equity are responsible for increasing productivity and lowering employee turnover. Diversity in the office is no longer an added benefit for your company; it’s necessary, and inclusion is expected. There are always ways to improve, and the Miner Agency can take some of the load off through our many association management consulting services.