When I talk to leaders they tell me that they absolutely prioritise and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace – it’s top of the pops, it’s a huge must-do.
However, what I see and what I know – and I know you know too – is that the business critical, urgent jobs always seem to come first.
Where then does diversity and inclusion go on the agenda?
It’s gets pushed further and further down the to-do list, until all of a sudden, the organisation gets to next year and nothing’s been done in the D&I space.
The strategy is sitting there but the implementation is no longer a priority.
In this article I want to talk to leaders about how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace by linking your efforts to other things you are doing every day.
It’s about simplifying things for busy leaders so that they can embed inclusion practices into their everyday interactions with their colleagues and staff.
Before we begin, you can watch a recap of this article in this video:
Let’s jump into the bulk of the article with a look at what diversity and inclusion are in the workplace.
What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity in the workplace is when your workforce is comprised of difference.
It’s more to do with filling quota boxes and ensuring that difference is visible. You might see that the folks you work with come from different backgrounds, cultures, races, or religions. They might be different genders, ages, sexual orientations. They may have different skills and experiences and bring with them a host of different opinions and much, much more.
Look around your workplace – do you see diversity and difference? Are your people acting differently from each other – are they solving problems differently, falling back on their different ideologies and ways of working?
If yes, you’ve got one side of the equation working in your favour.
Diversity in the workplace is one side of the equation
So, you can see difference around you – that is excellent and is one half of the D&I equation.
What we need to look for now is inclusion in the workplace. Because when leaders are inclusive of the difference – and promote being inclusive of the difference – that’s where organisations can experience the benefits.
It’s where the impact on the bottom line can be felt and the ripple effect is experienced far and wide across the organisation.
And it begins with leaders firstly knowing and then practicing inclusive behaviours.
Inclusiveness in the workplace
Inclusivity in the workplace is where diverse people feel valued and respected, are treated fairly, and have the same opportunities to progress – on their own terms – and can contribute their perspectives and talents without fear of judgement.
Inclusion in the workplace is closely linked with a sense of belonging, where, as an employee, I feel safe showing up as my true authentic self and I feel respected for my uniqueness. I feel supported when I bring conversations to the table, and I am not shut down when my ideas don’t align to the majority.
A lot of different elements come into play in order to create an inclusive workplace.
How then can we support leaders as they work towards promoting inclusive practices within diverse workplaces?
You’ve got to help leaders understand the bottom-line implications – what they’re missing out on when they aren’t inclusive.
The mindset still when we talk about diversity and inclusion is very much to say well it’s the right thing to do. We know we must do it, but how do we go about doing it? Organisations aren’t sure, so they end up being stuck, doing nothing.
Or an organisation says, well it’s all about diversity groups. And we’ve got all those boxes ticked and flicked, so we are good to go. We’re done.
You can see that organisations are only focusing on the diversity side of the equation. They need to move to the inclusion side.
Because when the focus is on the inclusion side of the equation the size of the prize is big.
What are the benefits of inclusion?
The first indicator of an increase in inclusion should be an increase in engagement.
We all know that hits the bottom line. But inclusion is also going to increase productivity, it’s going to increase collaboration, it’s going to increase customer service.
Furthermore, an organisation that is inclusive of its diverse peoples is going to experience:
- Improved creativity
- Increased profits
- Reduced employee turnover
- Improved company reputation
- Wider range of skills
- Improves cultural insights
- Improved compassion
- Increased talent pipeline
- More agile workforce
It’s clear to see that we need to get leaders to experience the business case for inclusion – and fast – because time is of the essence.
Leaders want to promote diversity and inclusion
- Acknowledge the uneasiness of difference
- Communicate as one team
- Constantly challenge the status quo while being comfortable with being wrong
- Get vulnerable with their teammates
- Are courageously curious and
- Remain fair at an individual level
These virtues enable them to leverage diversity for the benefit of the whole organisation.
It takes practice, mindfulness, an awareness of your unconscious biases, and thoughtful coaching to become a great inclusive leader.
Just like any skill or new habit, inclusive leadership needs to be learned methodically over time, and practised day in and day out.
When leaders participate in our Inclusion Habits for Leaders program, they experience the power of inclusiveness, and they want more!
When they really dedicate themselves to the diversity and inclusion agenda, they start to see and feel the benefits of being inclusive in their every day.
Why should you invest and prioritise D&I within your organisation?
What are the benefits of a prioritised diversity and inclusion agenda?
Here are a few:
It stimulates innovation: Diversity builds your organisation’s knowledge base by bringing together people of different backgrounds. This can spark off innovative solutions to business problems, helping you grow your market share.
It increases employee productivity: By bringing together people of different skills, knowledge, and lived experiences, your organisation can accomplish more work.
It helps you attract top talent: More and more job seekers consider workplace diversity to be an important factor when evaluating job offers. Inclusive leadership can help shape your organisation’s workforce by attracting diverse, talented employees.
It enables you to serve diverse customers and enter new markets: Inclusive leaders can leverage diverse employees to serve diverse customers. They can also expand into new markets, without letting language and cultural barriers hold them back.
Inclusive leadership leads to personal growth for both leaders and employees, as they’re compelled to break the ice with people of different backgrounds, skills and experiences.
Quite essentially, inclusive leadership helps you build the workforce of the future.
Leaders have so many urgent things on their agenda – diversity and inclusion needs to make a much louder noise to get the attention it deserves.
Taking the first step to support your leaders to become more inclusive
When you’re ready to take the next step to support your leaders as they promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, tell us your goals here.
We will let you know if our inclusive leadership program matches your goals so that you can experience a true return on your investment to prioritising D&I within your organisation.