Diversity and inclusion have become key concepts in efforts to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination, and improve recruiting and retention, innovation, and business results.
However, building a more diverse and inclusive workplace remains a challenge. Glassdoor’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Study found that 61% of 1,100 US employees surveyed said they have witnessed or experienced discrimination based on age, race, gender or LGBTQ identity in the workplace.
On the positive side, Glassdoor’s research reports that US job listings related to diversity and inclusion are up 30% since last year, which may be an indicator of more organizations investing in D&I initiatives including diversity training. Here are six tips that can help your organization take concrete steps toward building a culture of diversity and inclusion:
- Know the difference between diversity and inclusion
While diversity and inclusion are closely related, they are not interchangeable. Generally, diversity is the mixture of different beliefs, experiences, backgrounds and characteristics, while inclusion, as SHRM defines it, is “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” Another way to put it: diversity is being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance — or asked to join the party planning committee or better yet, the management team.
- Train everyone on D&I
Regular training, education and communication can help raise awareness of what inclusion is, why it’s important and how D&I applies in everyday business decisions and interactions. All employees should participate in training — executives, frontline managers and others at every function and level in the organization.
- Recognize and manage unconscious bias
Everyone has unconscious biases — hidden attitudes based on social stereotypes. The key is helping managers recognize and be mindful of their personal biases so they don’t influence decisions, such as who to hire, promote, work with, assign a special project or other actions that could lead to discriminatory behavior.
- Review policies, procedures & practices
It’s a good idea to regularly review policies, procedures and practices related to hiring and onboarding, code of conduct and preventing discrimination and harassment to ensure they appropriately address issues such as diversity, inclusion, equality and unconscious bias.
- Encourage everyone to share their ideas
Are some employees being talked over in meetings? Are their suggestions going unacknowledged? Inclusive-minded organizations connect the dots between saying that everyone’s views matter and ensuring people from different functions, locations and levels are empowered to share their ideas and perspectives. This is especially important for employees who work remotely.
- Address cliques and silos
Workplace cliques and silos create barriers that can undermine teamwork, morale and creativity, and make it difficult to retain people from diverse groups. Managers need to be aware of cliques and know how to address manipulative behavior such as gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying and freezing others out. Checking in regularly with new employees — especially those from underrepresented groups — and establishing mentoring programs can help identify and address the harmful effects of workplace cliques.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, D&I initiatives should be embraced throughout the organization, not just by HR. With the tangible support of senior management, D&I efforts can result in a more positive and productive workplace in which all employees are treated fairly and feel their voices, ideas and participation matter.