More than ever, employees are paying attention to a company’s diversity and inclusion movements. One reason is that people, especially the younger generations, are increasingly attracted to companies that offer an inclusive culture and create a safe space for people of all backgrounds to find a place of belonging. This may include women, LGBTQ+ as well as people from minority races and nationalities in your country.
Why is diversity and inclusion so significant in the workplace? It's always important to remember that everyone is different and respecting their uniqueness, individual needs, perspectives and background is necessary to cultivate trust within the workforce. That is why you should include inclusion and diversity initiatives within your business goals.
The importance of such an approach is well documented by consultancy companies such as McKinsey, whose studies have detailed how companies achieve superior results from impactful diverse and inclusive practices.
diversity vs inclusion
What is the difference between ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’? Diversity is often explained as the 'what' - what makes us different? It’s the different characteristics that differentiate us. Our gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, socioeconomic background and more.
On the other hand, 'inclusion' is the 'how' - how can we create an inclusive environment within the corporate culture where people with different characteristics (diversity) can feel welcome and valued in the same space? This means that you’re not denied equal opportunities or receive different treatment just because you are who you are.
Heightened awareness around inclusion and social justice have led many employers to question whether they are doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion within their organisation or workplace. Netflix has put a spotlight on the topic. Diversity and inclusion is not just about helping raise awareness of the minority communities or foster equality in the company, it has also helped the company create new content for their audiences who are looking for entertainment that they can understand and relate to.
how to measure diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
What does diversity mean in the workplace and how do we quantify it? Your HR department should already have this information. You can count how many women employees are in leadership positions, the number of training programmes and hours that your employees participated in and how many races and nationalities you have working for you. This helps you to discover if ethnic and gender diversity exists in your company.
Inclusion, however, can be highly subjective and difficult to quantify. Surveys may provide a snapshot at a moment in time of employee engagement, but there are many other factors that can influence perception, such as the welfare of the business or work demands. And without an effective way to gauge a company’s inclusion efforts, it’s difficult to know if your strategy and execution works.
Inclusive companies can, however, develop a data-driven approach to guide their inclusion and diversity efforts, including consistent and actionable initiatives that lead to real change and sustainable outcomes. Integrated with diversity goals and a company’s corporate values, an effective inclusion programme can produce tangible metrics and results, such as higher retention, greater productivity, stronger net promoter scores (NPS) and more.
3 action plans to create a culture of inclusion and diversity in the workplace
1. build your baseline and goals
As with all your initiatives, your efforts to nurture a more inclusive culture must begin with questions - why do we need to make additional inclusion investments, and what does success look like?
Without clear justification, you won’t be able to clearly define the issues that you want to address. Employees in your workplace are unlikely to participate in such initiatives and everyone would just go through the motions without achieving any real progress.
Start your inclusion strategies by defining targets such as enhanced employee engagement, retention, internal mobility and leadership development. Having these targets clearly defined will make it easier for you to quantify the metrics. Employee surveys provide engagement scores and retention is easily tracked, as are internal mobility and leadership development.
Because inclusion is such a complicated and complex process, having one indicator alone may not give you a complete picture of your efforts, but collectively, they provide a holistic picture of successes and opportunities.
Part of the data collection process also requires an integrated effort to identify the relevant insights that need to be considered – whether these are numbers such as NPS scores or percentage of leaders with diverse backgrounds.
Don’t forget that anecdotal information can also offer important insights on workforce perception. Consider establishing focus group interviews and an inclusion council – which the Society for Human Resource Management cites as an effective channel for communicating to the C-suite the perception of the workforce.
2. advocate your case to leadership teams to build strong foundation
The initial steps will serve as the foundation for the next critical part of your inclusion efforts – getting the buy-in from your business leaders and having inclusive leadership in your management team.
Without committed executives supporting and driving an inclusive workplace culture, it would be unlikely to bring about real change. Business leaders need to possess inclusive leadership as they play a key role to guide diversity and inclusivity efforts. To get their commitment to it, your business goals and case must be clear and achievable. That’s why building a strong foundation is critical.
When pitching your case to the leadership team, make sure to include the impact on innovation and employee engagement, as well as the long-term effect on employer and company brand reputation. A diverse multicultural team can boost creativity and innovation in a business.
Diversity and inclusion investments tend to have a tangible impact on measurements, such as Glassdoor scores and the number of job applications for each open role, all of which can lead to economic benefits like reducing recruitment costs. That is why you will need to come up with strategic initiatives carefully to ensure the best efforts are being put to drive this change.
You also need to be clear about how they can help you achieve your targets. You can invite them to be your business sponsor, convince them to make diversity and inclusion a key focus for the whole organisation as well as invite them to meetings to set a direction to foster a more inclusive team and motivate every employee to do better. It is important that individual leaders express inclusive behaviours and leadership.
3. communicate with the rank and file
Change will only happen if every employee in the organisation is involved around shared goals. Without the commitment from your employees on the ground, your company will only continue to operate in divided ways. Just as you would build a business case for your senior executives, you’ll also need to explain the 'why' and 'how' to everyone in your company, including all new employees during their onboarding.
A great way to create more inclusive teams is to conduct focus groups, particularly with employees of different backgrounds to learn about their differences and collaborate with them on how you can work together to make things more inclusive for everyone. Partner with external experts to conduct meaningful training programmes with actionable steps that your employees can continue to apply in their day-to-day.
Most importantly, you should provide a system for feedback on your inclusion programmes. It's important to value actionable feedback and find out if your strategic initiatives are working or not. Many times, minorities feel like they have been neglected during these programmes and activities, which by itself is an inclusion issue within your organisation.
Feedback processes can help you make sure that nobody is left out and measure sentiments about whether your initiatives are useful in driving real change. Hence, it is incredibly important to be ready to take action on feedback as well.
download the guide: 7 benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce
While measuring diversity and inclusive change is challenging, it doesn't make it less important in your company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. With a robust foundation and sufficient buy-in, your business can ensure a highly engaged and inclusive work environment. As long as you can withhold company values that promote inclusion and diversity, it will help you to create a stronger employer brand and reputation of your corporate culture. This way, you can attract job seekers and the talent pool that you want.
If you’re still on the fence of whether you should invest in diversity and inclusion or need more evidence to speak to your senior stakeholders, fill in the form below to get the digital guide for 7 benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Get your digital copy of the checklist on diversity and inclusion, and find out the key insights on:
- How gender and ethnic diversity are connected to financial performance
- Why diversity and inclusion could be crucial to your recruitment and internal talent development in the coming years
- How building a diverse team can unlock valuable capabilities at leadership level
work with randstad
Randstad, as a global HR leader, advocates diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Our culture of inclusiveness is rooted in our respect for the individuality and uniqueness of each member of our community and we embrace our diverse multicultural teams. We belong as one community driving creativity, innovation and change, and our people are our success.
If you’re curious about whether you’re doing enough to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace, you can always reach out to our specialised recruiters to find out. Through our research, we have developed an in-depth understanding and knowledge of what employers and talent are looking for in each other during these times.