For practically a decade, diversity has been a hiring priority. Companies understand that having a variety of employees representing a vast array of backgrounds benefits the business. It can promote creativity, innovation, and enhanced problem-solving, all of which can help the organization thrive.
However, the focus is now shifting. While diversity is still a critical part of the equation, inclusion is now the priority. Without a culture of inclusion, you may be able to hire a diverse workforce, but retention will remain an issue.
Facilitating the cultural changes that may be necessary isn’t always easy, but it is possible. If you want to properly manage the shift in focus from diversity to inclusion, here are some steps to take.
Before you can create meaningful change, you have to understand the current state of your company’s culture. Often, the best assessment tool is the perspective of your employees.
Reach out to your teams to find out what’s working, what isn’t, and where improvements would provide the most benefit. Dismiss the urge to defend your culture. Instead, make listening the priority.
Ideally, you also want to make several mechanisms for giving feedback available. This could include everything from formal in-person meetings to anonymous surveys. That way, employees can participate using approaches that make them the most comfortable, ensuring they have an avenue for sharing that isn’t intimidating in their eyes.
Having clear policies that outline what behaviors are or are not acceptable and any repercussions for breaking the rules can be a critical step. Otherwise, there isn’t a formal process for addressing actions that harm inclusivity, are blatantly biased, or create a hostile work environment.
If you don’t have a policy regarding the treatment of employees that addresses a range of backgrounds, create one immediately. Then, share the information with all staff members, ensuring every employee understands the expectations and what happens if they fail to meet them.
Many leaders struggle with unconscious biases. It’s not uncommon to favor employees who remind managers of themselves or to allow a past experience to negatively impact how a leader interacts with or perceives an entire group.
If you want a culture of inclusion, it’s critical to overcome unconscious bias. If leaders are purposeful about including every employee, that journey can begin. Over time, it won’t only make every team member feel acknowledged and involved, but it can also create positive experiences for leaders that will help them eliminate their unconscious biases.
Since many unconscious biases are based on misconceptions, creating opportunities for diverse teams to work together can be a smart move. By encouraging collaboration, you are giving employees opportunities to work with people from a range of backgrounds.
Over time, this can eliminate misconceptions, break down barriers, and bolster communication. It allows employees to learn from one another, creating a culture that respects those with different backgrounds.
Are you hiring?
Ultimately, all of the steps above can make shifting your focus from diversity to inclusion easier. If you’d like to learn more, the team at TRC Staffing Services can help. Contact us today and see how our diversity and inclusion expertise can benefit you.