Don’t Forget About the “I” in D&I
D&I = Diversity & Inclusion
Most companies today understand both the benefits and importance of recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce that includes a range of ages, ethnicities, religions, social classes, physical abilities, and political and world views. But, once you have the diversity piece down, it’s critical for management to ensure the right culture is in place that promotes, supports, and encourages all employees – from top to bottom – to be aware of the inclusion side of the D&I formula.
“Involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive (organization) promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, background, and ways of living of its members.” – ferris.edu
Assess Your Current Culture
Start by making an objective assessment of your current workforce and culture. If it resembles the clique-like behavior found in many U.S. high school cafeterias, then you’ve got some work to do! Don’t get me wrong – many of our youth “get it” much more than their adult counterparts – but I think we all can relate to the high school cliques from our past, or the infamous packs of like-minded and like-looking youth in movies such as “Mean Girls”. Stemming from this clique-like behavior, social exclusion can result in poor physical and mental health, which eventually means poor performance directly affecting your company. When you promote inclusion into your company, employees are more apt to have positive thoughts when coming in for work. And positive thoughts turn into the positive performance from your employees!
How Can You Promote Inclusion?
- Train leaders and managers on identifying biases and on modeling inclusive behavior – such as engaging in active listening and encouraging different points of views and contributions from everyone in meetings and other interactions
- Listen to employees and ask for ideas – hold a town hall meeting with “inclusion” as the topic and see what ideas are unearthed
- Celebrate employee differences; respect backgrounds and traditions – hold pot lucks where employees can bring a favorite food and share about their traditions
- Out of sight, NOT out of mind – remember to include remote workers and off-site or field employees in as many meetings and activities as possible – they can often feel the most disconnected to the organization
- Catered lunches… happy hours… be sure to have plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, dieters, non-drinkers, and the like