Promoting inclusivity and diversity in the workplace is a great way to attract applications from top talent. In addition, it’s essential to help develop a healthy workplace culture, increasing engagement and retention rates. More companies realise the benefit of inclusivity as a crucial initiative for building diversity and improving the ongoing employee experience in the workplace.
What is inclusivity?
How do you define inclusivity? The Oxford Dictionary defines inclusivity as “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.” So, we can define inclusiveness as not excluding anyone for any reason in the workplace.
What’s the difference between inclusion, equality, and diversity?
The line between inclusivity and diversity is often blurred as companies endeavour to promote equality and diversity in the workplace.
- Inclusion: inclusivity means that employees feel safe and appreciated in the workplace. Inclusive workplace practices mean that an organisation focuses on an individual’s unique qualities. Employees are encouraged to be open and autonomous so that team leaders can build strong teams with cohesive and diverse capabilities.
- Equality: Primarily, equality focuses on fair and equal treatment in the workplace, regardless of potentially discriminatory factors. For instance, a man and a woman doing the same job should have equal pay and opportunities.
- Diversity: A diverse workforce includes hiring employees in terms of the following: –
- Gender identity
- Nationality & national origin
- Sexual orientation
Workplace diversity is essential but it doesn’t mean it represents an inclusive environment.
What does inclusivity mean in the workplace?
Inclusivity means creating a workplace culture where employees from all backgrounds feel included. Moreover, an inclusive culture helps to maintain the diversity of job applicants. Most organisations are keen to get it “right” and subsequently explore ways to increase inclusivity.
10 recommended strategies for inclusive workplace practices: –
#1 Hire leaders invested in inclusion in the workplace
Top-down inclusive leadership is crucial for implementing inclusion policies. Inclusive leadership can help shape workplace culture as employees feel fairly treated, supported by the company, and encouraged to develop skills that lead to more opportunities for everyone within the organisation.
Open and honest leadership encourages transparency in the organisation. If leadership positions aren’t available, invest in inclusion training for team leaders, managers, and supervisors in the company to help them identify and overcome potential biases they may have about inclusivity for all employees.
Acknowledge the cultural differences in the organisation. For example, consider a native Italian speaker who cannot speak any language other than English in the workplace or a Muslim employee who needs to do daily prayer but feels insecure about doing it.
Whilst it can be challenging for organisations to respect every employee’s culture, those that structure inclusivity policies have far higher engagement and retention rates and happier employees.
#2 Encourage and support two-way communication
Employees should feel safe to share their concerns and ideas with management. The most effective way to support two-way communication is to create a structure that employees understand. For instance, managers can have a calendar date available for employees to book one-to-one time for discussion. Team meetings are great, but the more introverted employees may be unable to get their point across in a group setting.
Another suggestion is to create a communications platform specifically for two-way communication. Ideally, choose a medium that offers insights and data so the company can focus on measurables and provide feedback to employees.
#3 Ask for feedback to improve inclusion practices
There are four essentials in a feedback loop: –
- Ask for feedback
- Get clarity
- Implement ideas
Encourage employees to propose ideas for improving inclusivity in the workplace and ask which areas the company might fail. This feedback can significantly affect workplace culture if employees feel safe to express concerns and trust that the organisation will implement ideas where practical.
In a large organisation, a personalised communication platform helps to make every employee feel they have a voice in helping to create positive changes in the workplace.
#4 Embrace the differences between employees
People have different temperament types, personalities, life experiences, cultural differences and beliefs. Organisations that communicate equality and inclusivity in the workplace embrace employee differences without judgement.
Employees must feel “safe” to express opinions and concerns without fear of discrimination or victimisation.
#5 Support diverse thinking and how employees process information
The assumption that a meeting “went well” often correlates with everyone agreeing to an idea or outcome. However, teams built with like-minded people fail to hit the mark. They may miss out on exceptional ideas from putting a group of diverse people with different perspectives together.
We don’t all think the same. For instance, some people are external processors, meaning they express ideas and opinions verbally, often without thought. Internal processors take in information and then need time to process it mentally. Team leaders may assume internal processors have nothing to say, but they could have the most fantastic ideas if given time to process information cognitively.
Understanding thinking patterns for individual employees can help an organisation put together a team that still has different cultural perspectives but processes information similarly.
Another consideration is that employees that process externally can be mentally exhausting for internal processors as they struggle to process too much information. As a result, they may “switch off” during the meeting, which is a shame because some of the best problem solvers are internal processors.
For example: –
Team 1: External processors: Listen to and document their ideas without making instant decisions. You can also add team 2’s ideas into the mix.
Team 2: Internal processors: Listen to their ideas and give them a few days to process before deciding which to implement. You can also share team 1’s suggestions for them to process.
To overcome the potential issues arising from teams with different thinking patterns, create a safe space with a two-way communication channel instead of group meetings. Allow employees to communicate in their own time and thinking style. Ask for opinions and give credit to the employees with the best ideas.
If an organisation still wants to hold group meetings, reduce intimidation by having fewer people and ask them to prepare ideas before attending, so they don’t feel put on the spot.
#6 Create transparency regarding gender pay inequality
If there are gender pay disparities in an organisation, it may result in disappointment, frustration, and distrust. Gender pay differences are a point of contention for companies that promote inclusion in the workplace.
Supporting inclusive workplace practices means addressing the elephant in the room and not becoming defensive about the reasons for gender pay imbalances. Instead, outline the policies and strategies for employees that will address the gender pay gap. If skewed data has misrepresented the factors for different pay, explain to employees why this is so—for instance, untaken paternity leave or maternity leave.
#7 Encourage a multigenerational workforce
The average age of an employee in Web3 is between 24-35, but the reasons for that are unclear, though the assumption may be that “older” people are less tech-savvy. A workforce that supports multiple generations has a greater chance of developing a culture of diversity and inclusivity. To that end, generational inclusivity means investing in workplace communication systems suitable for all levels of tech ability.
#8 Embrace a multilingual workforce
A multilingual workforce is particularly beneficial to global companies with teams working worldwide. It may seem like a barrier for predominantly English-speaking companies. Still, it’s necessary to embrace genuine inclusion for everyone. A simple solution is to hire translators for events and meetings.
Additionally, adopt an innovative approach to taking care of a multilingual workforce by offering to fund the opportunity to learn other languages
#9 Eliminate bias and independently assess anti-discrimination policies
Why should we be concerned about workplace bias? The following are a few statistics about the cost of biases: –
- Employees working for large organisations are almost three times more likely to be disengaged from work if they perceive discrimination in the workplace (Source: Center for Talent Innovation)
- Disengaged employees cost US companies $450 – $550 billion annually
- It hinders Innovation: Employees who perceive bias are more than 2.5 times more likely to withhold ideas and business solutions over six months.
Most human biases are unconscious, such as ageism, sexism and racism, which can result in unfair hiring processes. For instance, if an organisation has ten long-term blockchain engineers and all males, would the hiring manager assume to hire another male or consider hiring a qualified female?
If we don’t see female blockchain engineers, developers, architects, or male HR staff, in the workplace, we may subconsciously apply different hiring standards. If this situation exists, it must change before a company can claim to embrace inclusivity. Therefore, managers must receive feedback and training to become more aware of natural biases to improve the situation.
The following strategies can help to overcome bias: –
- Blind review resumes so hiring managers cannot see demographics
- Rewrite gender-neutral job descriptions: Be aware of the words used and ensure they aren’t gendered descriptors
- Assess the language used in company documents and media. Can it be more equitably updated? For example, to better reflect gender inclusion.
Equally, policy language is often superficial and fuzzy regarding anti-discrimination policies. Leaders must work on strengthening policies focusing on inclusivity with a tailored approach.
#10 Take employee concerns seriously
Leaders implementing inclusive workplace practices must consider difficult discussions with employees regarding workplace issues. For example, if an employee reports sexual harassment, racism, bullying or discrimination by a manager.
Listen to the employee and ask questions to clarify a situation. Gather data such as dates and times and reassure employees that the company will handle their concerns with sensitivity and discretion. After that, take the necessary steps to clarify the situation and keep the employee informed of actions and decisions.
Conclusion: How to improve inclusivity in the workplace
Perhaps some organisations don’t see the point of the effort involved in creating inclusive workplace practices. However, the differences can be substantial and can significantly impact business outcomes.
Deloitte’s Diversity and Inclusion Revolution study showed that organisations with an inclusive culture are: –
- Twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
- Three times as likely to be high performing
- Six times more likely to be innovative and agile
- Eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes
The study also states that, in the inclusion model, fairness and respect are fundamental.
The CIPD report also demonstrates the evidence for inclusivity in the workplace and is an excellent guide for an organisation planning to implement new workplace inclusion practices.
There is no rational argument for ignoring that inclusivity can only be good for an organisation. It affects multiple aspects of the employee experience and can significantly impact business outcomes and improve employee retention rates.
If you’re unhappy in your current job and want to explore opportunities in Web3, working with a company with inclusive practices, contact the CB Recruitment team to discuss your options.