Inclusivity in the workplace is becoming more and more important as employees and shareholders are demanding it. Customers also want to support organizations that promote diversity and inclusive behavior, adding pressure to companies that don’t already support inclusive best practices. And in some cases, legislation enforces diversity and inclusion – making it illegal for organizations to discriminate against potential candidates and existing employees.
When an organization recognizes how critical diversity and inclusion are to its overall success, it begins its journey from a company loosely practicing inclusive behavior to one that champions inclusive and diverse company cultures for all. This evolution relies on five stages of development that build on each other.
Level 1: Increase individual awareness
The goal is not to eradicate the recognition of differences but rather for people to see them and respect them. Increase awareness by using in-house diversity training, workshops, and inclusivity training to recognize the disparities in marginalized people and unfair social, political, and economic processes.
Level 2: Implement diversity and inclusion activities
Organizations may then expand their initiatives to include targeted recruiting, mentoring, support networks, and career development. Policies that promote inclusive behavior are necessary for a diverse workplace to succeed. Policies should be communicated within the organization so all employees understand their expectations regarding inclusive behaviors.
Level 3: Combine programs and activities into an initiative
Identify the most successful programs and activities that increase employee engagement and individual self-awareness. Combine the elements that prove to be a strategic fit with both the improved company culture and the business model.
Level 4: Align the initiatives into the organization’s strategy
Integrate new and successful competencies, practices, workshops, and training into all of the company’s other strategies and initiatives. These changes may impact leadership, strategic partnerships, and business quality.
However, when people in decision-making positions or alliances cannot align with the company’s new mission, it may be a time for change management and the formation of new mutually beneficial business partnerships. This is crucial because customers, clients, and other stakeholders tend to support organizations that align with their personal views on inclusive practices. Therefore, continuing to work with a company or partner that goes against your new initiatives can be detrimental to your reputation.
Level 5: Evaluate and measure the benefits
The benefits of evolving into an inclusive and diverse organization won’t immediately be apparent. Therefore, evaluating changes in employee engagement, brand reputation, processes, and outcomes is necessary and should be done regularly. Monitoring the advantages of promoting an inclusive work environment also reveals gaps in program implementation and strategy integration.
Has your company already begun its strategic and beneficial journey towards a more inclusive and diverse work environment and partnerships? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation.