Companies with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals, three times more likely to perform at high levels, six times more likely to be innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better outcomes.
The results are very clear. But how can your organization achieve them?
To achieve better outcomes, organizations need to strive for diversity and inclusivity within their culture. Embracing both diversity and inclusivity drives innovation, creativity, risk management, retention, and, ultimately, better outcomes.
However, shifting organizational culture is no easy task. Why is it important? How do you go about cultural change? How do you increase diversity? How do you incorporate inclusion? Where should you even start?
Well, we have some answers for you.
What is the Difference Between Diversity vs. Inclusion?
Much has been written about both diversity and inclusion, as if they're one word. But what’s the difference?
Diversity directly refers to the balance of employees representing human demographic differences. Commonly, when thinking of diversity, we think about race, religion, gender, or disability. However, diversity goes beyond traditionally-underrepresented populations in the workplace.
Diversity also includes family composition, lifestyles, opinions, perspectives, educational levels, experience levels, and generational differences as diverse traits. Diversity of thought leads to creativity, boosting innovation by 20 percent while decreasing risk by 30 percent.
Inclusion, on the other hand, refers more to your culture around diversity. How do your employees feel when they’re at work? Do they feel like they belong? Can they freely offer their opinion? Is management supportive?
Let’s look at four specific areas that determine an inclusive culture:
- Are employees treated with fairness and respect?
- Do employees feel safe in their environment?
- Do employees feel a sense of belonging? Do they feel valued?
- Do employees feel empowered? Are they developing and growing within the business?
When employees work in inclusive workplaces, they feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions while growing professionally. This directly contributes to the success and profitability of the company.
What Should Companies Know?
To achieve optimum business results, you must neatly intertwine diversity and inclusion. They go hand in hand, but they aren’t the same. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article succinctly stated, “In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.”
Get a handle on diversity often comes down to numbers. However, diversity alone doesn’t propel inclusion. To drive inclusion, you need to work on your culture. And getting numbers on feelings of inclusion is often more complicated.
Improving both diversity and inclusion will ultimately position your business for higher success. The push for better talent in a more competitive marketplace will require companies to search for more diverse candidates. In fact, 67 percent of candidates want to join an organization that supports diversity. And even more, 47 percent of millennials want to join a diverse and inclusive organization.
Having an inclusive culture is not just something nice to consider. It’s a must if you want to compete for top talent.
Inclusive companies also typically enjoy over 2.3x higher cash flow over three years. Additionally, these companies are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets.
It’s hard to argue the benefits derived from an inclusive culture. But how do you get there?
What Should Companies Do?
To achieve an inclusive culture, you can’t merely create policies and hope that your culture is transformed. Policies and procedures are just a method of putting culture in writing.
Leaders create culture - so building culture must come, at least in part, from the top down. Think about what cultural philosophy you want to create, and then consider how to get buy-in to that philosophy from your team, your employees, and your company.
While you’re pondering changes to your organizational structure, here are some additional things to consider as you're building out your inclusive culture.
Understand how the different generations define and experience diversity and inclusion. Millennials will expect inclusive cultures as the business norm whereas baby boomers or Gen X-ers will have different perspectives.
Millennials, for example, thrive on collaboration—different ideas, different thought-patterns, and various creative approaches. Baby boomers and Gen X-ers may view diversity as “legal diversity,” meaning limited to race, gender, religion, and the like, and not considering diversity of thought or background.
Is unconscious bias getting introduced into your hiring program? If you’re shooting for a more diverse workforce, you need to encourage hiring for underrepresented groups in your workforce. By implementing new technologies into your hiring methods that can take out the “bias,” you can recruit more diverse, more qualified employees.
Here’s something that’s often scary for managers and leaders. Ask your employees what they think. What do they think about the current culture? Is it inclusive? Do they feel safe to express ideas and opinions? Do they feel respected by co-workers and management? Do they feel like they are growing at work?
And, here’s the even harder part. Listen. Listen to what your employees have to say -with the intent to understand.
Think about your employees’ responses and compare them to your employee data on demographics and performance. Where are you the strongest? What needs improvement? Tackle the “needs improvement” first.
Define your organizational values and your company’s mission and purpose. Share them with your employees—often.
To create a thriving, inclusive culture, communicate with and engage your whole team. Set measurable goals. Hold yourself accountable. Reinforcement and repetition of your actions is the name of the game. Make changes where changes need to be made but continue steadily down your path.
Incorporate both diversity and inclusivity into your culture. By taking these steps, you can turn ambitions into reality.