Why Diversity and Inclusion is Vital in the Workplace

Warning, warning, here come some HR talking points!

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk diversity and inclusion - and why we need to talk about it.

The U.S. workforce is diversifying, and organizations have a responsibility to do what it takes to continue achieving success. According to McKinsey's 2018 “Delivering Through Diversity” study:

  • Companies rated in the top 25 percent for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry averages.
  • Companies rated in the top 25 percent for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry averages.
  • For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on senior-executive teams, earnings rise 0.8 percent.

Bottom line: When companies take on diversity, they win.

Here's the 101 on diversity and inclusion.

Diversity by Generation (1)

Why Both?

Diversity can be measured by numbers - 50 - 50 gender balance on your leadership team or a threshold percentage of a particular race.

Inclusion, well, it can only be measured by feeling. It's the extent to which each individual feels safe, valued, accepted, respected and supported as a team member.

"Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." - Vernā Myers, Netflix VP of Inclusion Strategy

Inclusion Goals

Setting up a diversity plan is simpler than achieving a fully inclusive environment. With diversity plans, you're striving for objective numbers. With inclusions, you sometimes have to change hearts and minds within a workplace. Here are some ways to approach the challenge:

  • Leaders set the tone: People in positions of power should reinforce the company mission to be inclusive. Make it clear in day-to-day operations that behavior that hurts the company's values won't be tolerated.
  • Give people the tools the they need to handle sensitive situations appropriately: Hire for diversity, then reinforce it with learning opportunities that encourage an inclusive environment. According to Harvard Business School, the best programs include diversity task forces, mentoring, diverse managers, and high school, community college and college recruitment of women and minorities. Avoid tools like mandatory diversity training and grievance procedures, which are supposed to allow employees to point out problems in hopes of helping the manager improve but often backfire with managers trying to "get even" or belittle the employee.
  • Don't treat people the same, treat them as individuals: It's OK to acknowledge that we live in a world that comes with stereotypes. To bring more people to the table, workplaces don't need to be blind to differences, they need to accept and value them.

Hurdles to Great Results

Watch out for these obstacles on the road to inclusion:

  • Covering: Even when an organization makes an effort to be inclusive, one barrier is the phenomenon of "covering." This is when a person "covers" an authentic piece of who they are to fit in, such as hiding their real interests, personal backgrounds and more.
  • Code Switching: Code switching describes the use of communication, such as changing an accent to fit in or actively integrate.
  • Groupthink: If your teams are made up of a lot of the same types of people, groupthink can be an easy trap to fall into. One of the benefits of adding diversity is that you'll bring on people with new perspectives who can challenge the norm.

How to Promote Inclusion

So how do you get started? Look at the entire employee journey:

  • Hiring: Widen the criteria for what qualifications get in the door by looking for character traits that match your company culture, rather than just education or experience. Also, expand your recruiting grounds.
  • Ongoing Conversations: We're sure you're already doing more than an annual review, so make sure part of your frequent check-ins include getting feedback from employees about how they're feeling regarding their comfort among the team.
  • Offer Benefits that Attract New Groups:
    • Female employees are more likely than male employees to assign high importance to greater work-life balance opportunities.
    • Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely than baby boomers to value work-life balance.
    • Gen Z (yes, some of those young people applying were born in the late ‘90s) has shown a pragmatism that looks for great healthcare, student loan repayment and casual dress codes so they don’t break the bank on new clothes.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion into your business strategy isn't just surviving - it's about thriving. With the BirdDogHR Integrated Talent Solution, you can get a better handle on tracking employee feedback and other important metrics related to diversity so you can continue bringing on - and keeping - the best workforce.

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