A supplement to an article titled “The Value of Inclusion” published in the November/December 2021 issue of OfficePro magazine, written by Gail Allyn Short.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace matters. According to Forbes magazine, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15%. Meanwhile, businesses in the top 25th percentile for ethnic diversity typically beat out their competition by 35%. In fact, a survey conducted by Glassdoor found that 75% of job seekers and workers say diversity is an important consideration in determining who they want to work for.
Deanna Singh, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) expert, host of the podcast “Uplifting Impact” and author of the forthcoming book, “Actions Speak Louder,” says an inclusive workplace delivers several benefits:
“It encourages differences in thought, which is not only inclusive, but also a driver of innovation,” Singh says. “It also provides a clear signal to your industry and the world at large that you are inclusive and building a culture that’s reflective of a commitment to DEI. And, it allows marginalized groups to see that there is potential for a future in your organization.”
Singh, along with Jennifer Brown, author of “Beyond Diversity” and “How to Be an Inclusive Leader,” and Michelle Clarke, CEO at Empowerment Empires and author of “Women Up,” offer the following tips for creating a more inclusive workplace:
Get to know each other.
The fastest way to get a diverse and inclusive workplace up and running and gelling together is to create spaces and methods for your team members to get to know each other, to find out what is important to each other and what makes each other tick,” says Clarke. “Time spent on this upfront not only saves HR issues, it also produces results faster. I suggest starting with a values exercise so you can explore each individual’s values and then tie these back into the company’s values. This will help the team to know, like and understand each other and also help them to see where they fit into the company, and therefore, increasing buy-in and productivity.”
Learn how to talk about things like race and social identity.
“The most common reason why people don’t engage in these uncomfortable conversations is fear,” Singh says. “They’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, and they are also afraid of saying nothing. That is a paralyzing place to be, and we want to keep moving forward.”
Form a committee.
Brown suggests forming a committee at the office charged with coming up with ideas for making the workplace more inclusive. She says the first order of business should be to collect data through surveys or a suggestion box to get employees’ on what the company could do better to make every employee included and heard.
Build up your leadership toolkit with more inclusion tools.
“We are often taught about products, how to manage people, and the internal systems in our organizations,” says Singh. “Rarely do people have the privilege to receive formal training on inclusion. Inclusion is just like any other skill that needs to be taught and practiced. When you are given room to learn and practice more, you will achieve more. If you’re not, you’ll remain stuck in the ways of the past.”
Build room into the process for continuous improvement.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion work is a journey, not a destination,” says Singh. “Your goal is not to reach some saintly place where you are absolved of ever making a mistake again. That is not a real or achievable goal. People sometimes wish they could tackle DEI by receiving a massive list of things not to do, but that is impossible to generate. Your goal is to get to a place where you are constantly thinking about what you want to see moreof and being a key player in making that become reality. This work is about continually challenging yourself and your organization to grow.”
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About the author: Gail Allyn Short is a freelance journalist based in Birmingham, Alabama. She writes about business, education and lifestyles.