Everyone wants a strong company culture from execs to employees alike. After all, the culture of an organization is what shapes the daily life of employees, even in a remote environment. It sets the tone for what the working environment is like for all staff and sometimes, a company’s culture can be a barrier to their inclusion efforts. If you want to create an environment that truly supports all of your employees, then where should you start? Let’s explore 5 strategies you can use to shift workplace culture to be more inclusive for everyone.
5 strategies to improve inclusion
Is your organizational culture as inclusive as it could be? Here are 5 tips you can use to make more room for DE&I.
Listen: In large companies, sometimes upper management has a skewed vision of what’s really going on at the lower levels of a company. If leaders don’t know what’s not working, how can they fix it? Part of creating an inclusive culture is by first asking what’s not right. Employees know what kind of barriers or challenges they face every day. From more institutionalized issues like management approach or company policies to daily microaggressions, asking your employees what they’re experiencing can help paint a picture of exactly where a better work environment is needed. Employee surveys can be a fast way of collecting this information, particularly in a remote world, but make sure you leave room on your surveys for employee comments or shared stories. It’s often the personal experiences that shed the most light on where issues lie.
Examine policies: You might also want to take another look at your company policies to ensure everyone is treated fairly at work. Does your company have standards around worker behaviour expectations? Make sure one of those rules is about treating others with dignity and respect. You should also double-check what constitutes harassment at work and what processes are in place to deal with complaints if they arise. All managers in the company should be well versed in these policies so they can pass them on to their teams and make it clear what is and is not acceptable in the workplace. And don’t just focus on the negatives. One step many companies are using these days is to offer floating holidays so their employees can adapt their schedules to their own religious or cultural practices. This is one example of how a simple policy change can have a positive inclusive impact.
Educate your workforce: If you want to change your culture then you need to give employees the tools to do so. Have open conversations with your team about the importance of inclusion and what it means to the organization. Discuss company values and how they related to corporate culture. Think about how inclusive collaboration and teamwork are prioritized. This a perfect opportunity to bring in a speaker or more formal type of professional development that can address the challenges many different employee groups face in the workplace and what their team members can do to help. Encourage having uncomfortable conversations to spark discussion and understanding. Don’t leave your workers alone to try and sort through any culture changes. Support learning at the team level and employees will be more equipped to navigate the culture update successfully.
Build inclusion into the hiring process: Companies can’t achieve their inclusion goals without considering the hiring process. Yes, there is work to be done at the company and current employee level to create a space for inclusion and diversity, but if you don’t change how you hire the composition of your workforce is going to remain the same. Updating the hiring process means looking at it from start to finish to identify where barriers might challenging candidates. Consider the language you use in your job descriptions and what job boards you post it on. You may also want to think about creating a diverse hiring team to help with future hires to ensure managers don’t have recruiting blindspots. Think about what questions your asking in an interview and if they’re standardized to all candidates. And look at how you reject candidates who are unsuccessful. Being more intentional and fair when you hire will help build an inclusive workplace to match your new culture.
Track metrics: Shifting company culture can be tricky because so much of our daily interactions particularly around diversity and inclusion are unconscious. It’s hard to change what you’re not aware of. That’s why you need to come up with a plan to update your culture and metrics to actually monitor your progress. This is the step many inclusion programs fail at and without seeing what’s actually changing, how can you tell if you’re improving? When considering which metrics to use, ask yourself a few questions. Look at hiring practices and ask what candidates getting offers and who is being turned away. Examine leaders in your company and ask whether advancement opportunities are open to everyone and whether certain groups of people are being moved up more commonly than others. And you should always pay attention to your employee retention rates to see who is leaving your company and what reasons they give when they do so. Digging into these questions will give you somewhere to begin. Remember once you start, update and adapt as you go. You might find your most important metrics are ones you haven’t even thought of yet.
Inclusive cultures make room for everyone
An organization’s culture says a lot about its core values and how they view their workforce. Great company culture should always be the goal but to achieve it, inclusion needs to be taken into account. Do you have a company that’s fair with equal opportunities for everyone? Or is your hiring process filling your ranks with similar employees? Successful companies are taking a hard look at their culture and identifying what they can do to provide a better working environment for all employees. By gaining employee input and providing learning opportunities to support diversity and inclusion efforts, you can shift a company’s culture to value collaboration, understanding, and well-being. But those changes won’t happen by accident. Building a positive culture takes work and support from both upper management and the workers themselves. When everyone is onboard, inclusive cultures can make companies more productive and employees more engaged.