Creating an inclusive company culture is essential in today’s workplace landscape. Not only is it a top priority for executive teams, but an inclusive and diverse workplace culture has a profound effect on all demographics of employees. Moreover, it’s been proven that a higher level of diversity and inclusion affects productivity, retention, and the bottom line.
As we’ve learned from the Great Resignation and the rise of the hybrid workplace, employees have the upper hand when it comes to choosing their ideal workplace. And they’re not afraid to leave a company in order to have a better overall employee experience.
In this article, we review how inclusive culture is defined. Additionally, we look at key elements and benefits, and specific ways companies can create an effective culture of inclusion for a diverse workforce.
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An inclusive culture is a workplace culture where a company actively includes and addresses diverse and underrepresented groups. This is in order to increase employee engagement, provide a sense of belonging for staff, and embrace workplace diversity. Senior leaders must ensure their companies create an inclusive work environment for people of all gender identities, sexual orientations (2SLGBTQIA+), races, religions, ethnicities/nationalities, disabilities, marriages/civil partnerships, pregnancies/parental statuses, socioeconomic backgrounds, and age/generations.
A good company culture should ultimately create empowerment in the workplace for all employees and provide safe spaces for team members to be their authentic selves.
For instance, as an article in the Harvard Business Review explains, “Employees who differ from most of their colleagues in religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background and generation often hide important parts of themselves at work for fear of negative consequences. We in the diversity and inclusion community call this ‘identity cover,’ and it makes it difficult to know how they feel and what they want, which makes them vulnerable to leaving their organizations. The key to inclusion is understanding who your employees really are.”
So how can companies address inclusivity? Firstly, companies with the goal of being more inclusive must lead from the top down. And their goal should be around providing the space for employees to communicate, listening to changes that are needed, and demonstrating inclusive behaviors through concrete actions and initiatives. While the human resources (HR) team may be tasked with executing many inclusivity and diversity initiatives, it’s essential that the entire C-suite leadership team as well as other key management stakeholders be committed to leading an inclusive organization.
According to Limeade, an inclusive workplace culture has eight key elements:
And in addition to the above key elements, an inclusive workplace culture has four hallmark characteristics:
There are many tangible benefits of having an inclusive company culture. Companies that embrace inclusivity are generally known to have a much higher level of employee satisfaction and retention. Additionally, they’re known to attract and retain higher caliber candidates. While embracing and creating inclusive cultures is the right thing to do, it also makes great business sense.
In fact, research by Deloitte indicates that inclusive talent practices drive measurable and predictable business outcomes. The research also shows that in organizations with inclusive cultures, people tend to feel that they can be themselves, share problems, make mistakes, innovate, and drive change.
And Deloitte further identifies a number of measurable benefits in their Diversity and Inclusion review, the diversity and inclusion revolution. Organizations with inclusive cultures are:
But wait! There’s more! Deloitte also identifies that organizations with inclusive leaders are likely to result in a:
According to research by the Limeade Institute, employees who feel included:
And according to PeopleScout, organizations with inclusive cultures are:
So how can companies actually create an inclusive company culture? Deloitte’s research reveals six principles to creating a more inclusive organization:
While many companies offer a variety of perks in order to retain and attract talent, they often fall short. For example, free coffee, competitive bonuses, a games room, and employee recognition aren’t enough to cut it in today’s workplace.
For instance, picture a non-binary employee who doesn’t know if they can include their pronouns on their LinkedIn profile without consequence. Or a Muslim employee observing Ramadan who’s hesitant to share that they’re fasting when the team is grabbing lunch. Or a gay employee who doesn’t know if they can bring their same-sex partner to the holiday party with full support and acceptance.
With this in mind, here are a few examples of tangible ideas that companies can implement to help increase the culture of inclusivity:
In summary, inclusivity in company culture is essential in today’s workplace. As a result, companies must support all employees and create an engaging, inclusive workplace for everyone through listening, positive steps to take action, and good leadership to adjust initiatives for the best outcomes.
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Photos: simarik, Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez, Rawpixel, Halfpoint