These days, most businesses place a premium on workplace diversity. Simply put, most of us want to have an organizational culture that’s welcoming to all kinds of people, from all walks of life. There’s a moral imperative toward a diverse organizational culture, as well as some business benefits; more on that in a minute!
A different way of talking about diversity is to talk about inclusion. Do you have an organizational culture in which everyone feels like they can be part of the team? Or do you have a culture that sometimes pushes people away… intentionally or otherwise?
If you’re unsure, I’ve got some ideas to share. Below, you’ll find a few tips for making your organizational culture more inclusive. But first, let’s lay some foundational points.
What is Organizational Culture?
I’ve been throwing around the term organizational culture, which is something I discuss pretty regularly here on the blog. For anyone who needs a refresher, I’ll point you back to an old post that explains the concept in greater detail.
Here’s the quick version: Every business has an organizational culture, whether they’re aware of it or not. Culture is comprised of the values and customs that define the day-to-day activity of your team. It encompasses how you set goals, how you communicate, how you collaborate, and more. It’s something too important to be left to chance; proactively build the kind of organizational culture you want. (And hopefully, that means building an inclusive one.)
The Value of Inclusivity
Next, let me give a quick overview of why all of this matters. I mentioned above that there are business benefits to having an inclusive culture. Here are some examples:
- An inclusive workplace helps build team cohesion and unity, because everyone is made to feel like they have a seat at the table and a real
- Inclusivity means you have a variety of perspectives, which can come in handy as you’re engaged in problem solving or critical thinking exercises.
- Inclusivity also helps you develop more workplace creativity. Think about it: Sameness leads to sameness! Diversity helps you think outside the box.
- An inclusive organizational culture can also help you boost productivity, as you’ll have different people who are suited to be productive in different ways.
- Finally, an inclusive workplace can help you develop goodwill toward your company, making it a more favorable place for people to do business or to seek employment.
All of that’s to say, it’s worth making an effort to develop an inclusive workplace. Now we turn to the how.
How to Make Your Organizational Culture More Inclusive
Here are a few strategies for making your culture a more inclusive place.
- Start with leaders and managers. It’s ultimately up to people in a supervisory role to create an inclusive environment. That’s why there’s merit to formally training leaders and managers in inclusivity best practices. Start at the beginning: What is inclusivity? And why does it matter? Then develop specific strategies for making the workplace more inclusive.
- Create an inclusivity council. Depending on the size of your business, the council may include anywhere from three to a dozen people. Their job is to collaborate on some inclusivity goals, specifically related to hiring, promotion, and retention. They may also spend some time developing benchmarks and strategies, then presenting them to the full team.
- Accommodate employee differences. It’s paramount that your company be a place that’s welcoming and supportive of employee differences. Maybe this means a prayer room for Muslim employees; or a room where nursing mothers can go as needed. Let employees know that you see their differences, and really value them.
- Listen to what your employees are telling you. Hopefully, your company has some formal methods for getting employee feedback. Engagement surveys are an example. Be sure to ask employees if they feel included, if they feel like the organizational culture values diversity, if they have a sense of belonging, etc.
- Create inclusive meetings. Be intentional in creating meeting environments where everyone feels like they can participate. If you have remote employees, loop them in. And distribute meeting agendas and materials in advance, allowing all of your employees some time to prepare their contributions.
- Measure and communicate. As you set diversity goals, make sure you also track your results. Communicate progress to your team. You may not hit all of your goals overnight, but let people see that real efforts are being made. The effort alone may be an encouragement to your team members.
These are some simple ideas for making inclusivity a real priority at your business… not just talking the talk, but really putting strategies into place for pursuing an inclusive organizational culture.
Let’s Talk Further About Workplace Inclusivity
I hope this has been a helpful exploration of what an inclusive organizational culture is; why it’s valuable; and how it can be pursued.
But I also understand that this is a complicated topic, and each business has different cultural strengths, weaknesses, and objectives.