The past year has seen work upended, forced into a virtual and remote space as the country dealt with the pandemic. The world also underwent dramatic social upheaval during the election and racial injustice was brought to the forefront as it became apparent that descriminiation is still widespread amongst our country.
Vaccines and herd immunity are reducing the spread of Covid-19 across the country. People are starting to return to work and recent studies show that normalcy will occur in July. As the work force returns, it’s important that we all do our part to build an environment of safety, understanding, diversity and inclusion.
Diversity and Inclusion are more than hot topics or special terms for HR executives to contemplate. They are the drivers behind company culture. The first step to understanding how Diversity and Inclusion influences the workplace is to understand what the difference between them is.
Diversity is the full range of human race, culture, physical attributes, gender, religion, opinions, perspectives, political views, education levels, etc. A diverse workplace has people from all walks of life, races, religions and backgrounds amongst its ranks.
Inclusion has nothing to do with how diverse a workforce is. A workforce can include employees from every corner of the globe and not be inclusive. Inclusion is the degree of belonging and acceptance people feel in the workplace.
When a workplace is both diverse and inclusive company culture can really take off resulting in increased production and higher morale amongst employees. Here are three tips to produce this effect:
One - Top management works hard to build a respectful environment
This might seem like common sense, but showing basic manners and respect for one’s fellow workers goes a long way. Top flight executives often forget how many eyeballs are on them and need to actively work at showing respect to all employees at each echelon of the workplace. When top management treats the maintenance staff or interns with kindness and importance other employees take notice and these good habits will emulate throughout the company.
Simple acts of appreciation like saying “good morning” and greeting people by name go a long way in creating a sense of belonging. When workers feel respected and they can see that people around them are treated as human beings, the chances of desrimination occurring in the workplace are drastically reduced.
A respectful environment is also a safe environment to communicate within. Employees will feel more confident speaking out and sharing creative ideas if they know people will listen and not judge them.
Two - Employees are valued for their strengths
We too often focus on a person’s weak points and try to improve those. We also do this to ourselves. How often do you catch yourself introverting on the things that are wrong with your work that need improvement?
The occasional dose of constructive criticism can be healthy, but dwelling on the negatives excessively can build an unsafe and uncomfortable environment. Inclusion starts with a safe, calm environment where people are free to be themselves and not be worried about their flaws being magnified.
No one is perfect. We all have flaws. The best approach is to focus on strengths. Every employee has many strengths despite how many evident flaws they may display. When managers foster employee strengths, ignore their flaws and help them grow as people the strengths often increase enough to make the flaws seem insignificant.
When employees know their strengths are going to be examined and bolstered it builds morale and sets the framework for an inclusive environment. A good exercise is to simply ask employees to write down five of their best strengths and then have managers work with them to improve those strengths.
Exercises like these lend themselves especially well to formal mentoring programs. Mentors can really foster a mentees strengths and advise them on career paths, books to read, Ted Talks to watch and other resources to speed up employee development.
Three - Everyone is given a voice.
In large organizations, employees can feel lonely. Employees can feel their work bears little to no influence on the outcome of production, ROI or company growth. It’s easy to feel like a cog in the machine when there are thousands of other works buzzing about. This feeling of isolation can work against diversity and inclusion.
In order to have a diverse group that is also inclusive, there has to be communication amongst employees. Employees must be given a channel to communicate on and they must also feel safe communicating on the channel.
Depending on the circumstances, different channels can be established. Sometimes an internet based medium of communication such as a social media group or online notice board is the best way for employees to share their thoughts and ideas. If small groups can be formed within an organization, meetings can be frequently held where each team member gets a chance to share ideas or bring up issues that matter to them.
Opening up the communication within a workforce sparks organic growth leading to a more diverse and inclusive group.
Mentor Resources can help any company to leverage technology to create tailored career development programs that are cost-effective. Our mentoring software - Wisdom Share is a cloud-based program that is simple and comes with guided workflows. Included are tools for administrators to attract, enroll, connect, and guide participants. We also provide analytics to ensure you can monitor your employee development program and easily see ROI metrics.
Reach out to us today for a Free Demonstration of our software.