Creating an inclusive culture translates to a stronger employer brand
After the Covid-19 pandemic, diversity and inclusion (D&I), as a core value, are discussed more than ever before. This is especially true in the context of organizations striving to be amongst the best companies.
Business and HR leaders across the globe are focused on attracting and recruiting diverse talent to fill in various roles. People, irrespective of their race, gender, background, and sexual orientation, make up the workplace, contributing their bit towards innovation and development of the organization.
However, it’s not enough for organizations to simply forgather diverse people to meet D&I objectives. Diversity is just one variable of the equation of a company’s employee brand, which is simply defined as its reputation amongst its employees. Job seekers often look to work in an inclusive workplace when planning for the next move on their career path. So, it’s imperative that business and HR leaders create a diverse as well as inclusive culture. It’s only then that they can build a stronger employee brand and earn the reputation of being “the best place to work.”
Becoming an inclusive company
Inclusion is the level to which employees of an organization feel respected, valued, encouraged and accepted. However, building an inclusive workplace is easier said than done for many organizations. A number of them know that inclusion matters for success but struggle to create such an inclusive culture.
You, as a leader or a coach, will must know the challenge of becoming an inclusive company. Below you will find some useful ways to build an inclusive culture and take your organization to greater heights.
1. Hold a gratitude program
An inclusive company expresses “Thanks” formally to its people through an organization-wide gratitude program. You can use the program as a powerful tool to foster inclusivity in your organization. Designing a gratitude program that’s in line with your organization’s values can help in reducing unconscious bias. For managers, a gratitude program goes beyond appreciating employees across the organization. It can provide them with some concrete data, which they can use to up their employee recognition efforts.
Take, for example, the gratitude program gives managers the data that women are not recognized as often as men. The data can also be extrapolated to various departments of the organization. Using this data, an organization can take corrective actions and perhaps boost its employee recognition practices.
2. Create informal communication channels
The idea of internal communication—one that happens vertically and laterally between employees, teams and departments—perhaps needs to be changed to create an inclusive workplace. It’s hard for employees to get a sense of belongingness in the organization if there’s an icy shield between seniors and subordinates. It’s important to keep discussions formal and professional, but too much of it can kill the fun of work. Real inclusion happens when communication just flows, acceptably and valuably.
Most companies focusing their efforts on creating an inclusive culture are toning down their professionalism in their internal communications. Creating informal communication channels can be a great start to break the ice and allow employees to open up. Personal check-ins and informal social channels can make the working experience fun for everyone, giving them options to make their interactions more rewarding.
3. Leave nobody out
The goal of inclusivity will materialize when all the voices in the organization are heard. You, as a business leader or coach, will have to involve stakeholders from all levels of your organization to create an inclusive workplace. A diverse organization will have different perspectives, ideas, and opinions brewing silently. Much of a company’s ability to innovate depends on a leader’s ability to integrate the different colors into a single organizational canvas.
To ensure that all employees and stakeholders are included, you will have to reach out to everyone. Create a platform or a channel where you can conduct employee listening and sensitivity training. The idea is to get everyone on board and make them feel that they are a part of the same organizational ecosystem, working in synergy to achieve the company’s goals.
4. Democratize performance feedback
Traditionally, performance feedback flows top-down. A subordinate performs a task under the supervision of a senior manager, who then provides feedback to the person. This system is widely accepted but is not a very conducive one for an inclusive company, where communication tends to be more free-flowing and informal.
To create an inclusive culture in your workplace, you need to remove the hierarchy in which feedback flows in your organization. Democratizing the performance feedback process gives everyone in your organization—from the top-level executives to bottom-level representatives—to play an active role in peer-to-peer recognition. It helps you to empower all your employees by giving them a voice in their peer’s success. It can really help you promote inclusion and positivity in your organization.
It’s not necessary that a diverse organization is an inclusive company. Business and HR leaders should be purposeful about creating an inclusive workplace. It’s important for them to realize that no organization can succeed with boxed-in ideas. It needs fresh blood, fresh thoughts and fresh ideas to thrive in a dynamic and competitive landscape.
When leaders include people from diverse backgrounds, they get a chance to become aware of any unconscious bias they may be holding in the workplace. The narrative of all leaders now should focus on continuously bringing the differences to light and creating positive experiences that people from all backgrounds, identities, faiths and orientations can bring to the organization.
Leadership coaches can help leaders establish a more inclusive workplace and company culture.
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