Diversity and inclusion aren’t just about buzzwords or hiring quotas. Diversity is about serving people from different walks of life, which is not only the right thing to do but also good business sense. You don’t want your firm and its products or services to neglect any groups of people. Inclusion, by contrast, is about letting everyone know that all employee and customer contributions are valued and that everyone is given the opportunity to do their best work and advance.
In other words, diversity is the what; inclusion is the how. Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce; inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive.
Inclusivity starts by giving everyone in the workplace a voice — not just managers and executives. Listen to the opinions of all your employees to make them feel equal and valued. And the same goes for your customers: Send out regular surveys to get their feedback.
Here are some tips on how to keep diversity and inclusion front of mind.
- Communicate on a personal level — work toward building personal relationships with your team.
- Don’t be intrusive, but have a basic knowledge of who your workers are as individuals. What are their likes, their desires, their hobbies?
- Set the example that inclusivity is the norm.
- Workers will feel more comfortable in recommending various employees to work at your business, which will further foster inclusivity.
- Make diverse hiring a priority.
- Make hiring people with different backgrounds and perspectives a priority to help your firm stay at the forefront.
- Let people know you’re seeking diverse candidates.
- Change your meeting leaders.
- Create a culture where people feel included and respected.
- Start in company meeting rooms. Rotate who runs meetings, which changes the internal dynamics and gives everyone the opportunity to be heard.
- Hire remote workers to make your firm even more inclusive.
- Hire people with different backgrounds, no matter their location.
- Your company will be able to interact with customers all around the world and in their own language.
- Provide truly equal opportunities.
- Strong individuals make a strong team, and people work to the best of their abilities when they feel comfortable.
- Always hire the best candidate for a job regardless of gender, identity or nationality.
- Whenever there is a leadership position to fill, promote from within.
- Create more inclusive internship programs and focus on retention, not just recruiting.
- Track your own data on employee demographics to identify areas of concern or trends.
- Look at age, disability, ethnic or national origin, family status, gender, gender identity or expression, generation, language, life experiences, organization function and level, thinking or learning styles, and veteran status.
- Much of this information exists in affirmative action plans and EEO reporting obligations.
- Gather information about the current company culture by surveying employees to shed light on their perceptions of your firm in encouraging and appreciating diversity.
- Conduct employee focus groups to understand what changes may be needed.
- Consider scrapping your employee referral program. Studies show that employees tend to recommend people similar to themselves, which can lead to departments that are significantly less diverse.
- Provide floating holidays that can be used for various religious observances.
- Get rid of political signs and bumper stickers that may discourage individuals with different viewpoints from applying.
- Inform, educate, engage and empower as appropriate.
- Use ongoing streams of communications. Use all available media, including social media, newsletters, intranet and email.
- Use success stories to connect diversity and inclusion efforts.
Increase your overall bottom line with a more diverse workforce. Change policies and practices, staff training, target recruiting and inclusion-awareness events for employees. Start with the elements that have the greatest business value and are readily achievable to build momentum for the initiative. Invest in startups with black, Latinx, Asian or Native American founders. Disclose your diversity data.