Stories of harassment in the workplace continue to make headlines, and as many Human Resources professionals know, any organization with a culture that permits harassment suffers low employee morale and engagement that ultimately affects the organization’s bottom line. When organizations promote diversity and inclusion employees often thrive! This creates a culture of creativity, collaboration that promotes and supports the organization’s bottom line.
In the last couple of years, organizations have begun to focus on diversity and inclusion. But what are diversity and inclusion?
Diversity in the workplace is understanding and valuing differences such as race, ethnicities, gender, age, religion, disability and sexual orientation. It may also include differences in education, personality, skill sets and experience.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Workplace inclusion can involve a supportive and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees within the organization. So, what can organizations do to increase diversity and inclusion?
All progress starts with the truth. First, look at where your organization stands on diversity and inclusion. How are these aligned with your organization’s goals, vision, mission, core values and business objectives?
Start at the top. Increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace takes commitment from the entire team, but must start at the top. Have someone from your leadership team be the champion of diversity and inclusion within your organization and have them take responsibility for this role.
Accountability and Transparency. Create performance objectives that help create a sense of transparency and accountability. It is also important for organizations to be transparent in the processes they are using to improve diversity and inclusion. One example of this maybe being transparent in the process to improve leadership succession while creating diverse management committees. This will help create buy-in for the organization as a whole and help the organization work towards a common goal.
Educate. While we hear the terms diversity and inclusion all the time, not everyone understands what that means for their role and how it relates back to the organization. You may consider providing training for managers and leaders within your organization. For example, some biases are called “unconscious,” because we do not even know we have them. By providing training and educating managers and leaders about unconscious biases, it can help individuals understand their weak points and avoid pitfalls.
Take a stand against inappropriate behavior. Do not wait until someone voices or files a written complaint. If someone makes an inappropriate remark and everyone is laughing, that does not mean it is acceptable. Ignoring inappropriate behavior sends the wrong signal to employees down the line and can affect the organizations overall culture.
Integrate diversity and inclusion strategies in all areas of the organization from recruitment, performance management and training.
Patience. Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion takes time, patience and determination. Guide employees who may not understand the value of diversity or act disrespectfully. Often, negative behaviors come from ignorance, not malice. Educating and a willingness to understand that person and their behaviors can go a long way.
We need to remember that in the end, we are all human. Mistakes will happen, and issues will arise. But how your organization handles these issues and how your organization takes active steps to improve matters to employees. Creating a workplace that provides a safe and respectful working environment goes a long way and ultimately helps drive the organization’s bottom line.
As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Jackie supports multiple phases of our business by providing assistance and constant communication with clients and sponsors, and by serving as an event liaison for programs and consulting engagements. Her primary roles include overseeing Lean Six Sigma Consulting and The Boomer Technology Circles™ Partnering Sponsor Program. Jackie thrives at the opportunities to build new relationships.