“Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.”
This quote from HR industry analyst, Josh Bersin sums up the huge impact that diversity and inclusion initiatives (D&I) can have on businesses. From increased productivity to higher revenue and simpler talent attraction; D&I strategies are not just a feel-good, box-checking exercise for HR departments, but they have a marked impact on financial and business success.
Despite D&I soaring up the priority list for businesses in recent years, research has found that 75% of employees believe that more can be done to ensure a workplace that is truly diverse and inclusive for all.
In this article, you’ll find 5 best practices to change your culture of D&I for the better.
1. Don’t ignore unconscious bias
While we naturally (and unintentionally) gravitate towards and connect with people with similar backgrounds to ours, we are all ‘hard-wired’ to sometimes make certain assumptions about others. This unconscious bias and assumptions are ingrained into how we do things, the language we use and how we behave. And while often harmless, in some cases, they can be damaging.
Being aware of unconscious biases is the very foundation of an inclusive company culture. The first step to true diversity and inclusion is to recognise that unconscious bias exists within each of us and HR and recruitment leaders must put strategies in place that ensure that the hiring and retention of diverse talent is a priority.
2. Ensure your employees feel included
A sense of belonging among your employees makes a company truly diverse and inclusive. When employees can come to work without needing to hide any aspects of who they are, employees will feel included, part of something greater and valued for who they are and what they bring to the table.
According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, employees who are able to bring their whole selves to work are 42% less likely to say they intend to leave their job within a year.
3. Open the lines of communication
Developing a culture of openness and honesty can help employees from all walks of life to feel accepted, providing them with a voice and platform to initiate change. Be sure to understand what drives the people within your business. We are all motivated by different things and, as an HR leader, understanding this is key to the success of any D&I strategy.
The simplest way to do this is to talk to your employees and ask the difficult questions to really initiate change where needed. All too often, business leaders and management teams assume or guess what their employees need which is not conducive to making your workforce truly diverse and inclusive. So, provide a forum for your employees to speak up about what matters to them, ask for their opinions and experience, and offer the methods of communication that they feel most comfortable with in order to share their views.
4. Ensure frequent feedback
In the same vein, as part of your D&I strategy, your employees must feel able to provide honest, open feedback on any initiatives you introduce – and where necessary, to be able to do this anonymously. Gathering both quantitative and qualitative data as part of surveys, feedback or even focus groups can help you to not only better understand the needs of your workforce but identify where there is room for improvement in your D&I initiatives.
5. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition is a great way to supplement your D&I strategy. Rather than structured recognition schemes or quarterly ‘top hitters’ reward programmes, peer-to-peer recognition centres on recognising those that may have been overlooked and celebrating achievements - no matter how small. It is informal, off-the-cuff and instantaneous; colleagues can recognise one another, celebrate their wins and thank their peers for a job well done with the aim of acknowledging contributions made by individuals.
Not only is peer-to-peer recognition a great equaliser for all employees, it puts everyone on a level playing field – regardless of job title, experience, income, background, religious beliefs, identity, or gender. It allows for public celebration and gratitude, it can help to increase employee visibility as colleagues band together to recognise their peers and it creates a domino effect with more and more praise, thanks and pride being shared between colleagues.