How Can I Foster Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?
Collecting data can help with a preliminary needs assessment.
Here are some areas of interest to look at:
- Which employees are paid more and which are paid less, and why?
- What are some differences in promotion time averages for specific demographics?
- What do your workplace demographics look like?
One way to collect data is to survey employees. Ask them for their perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and anonymize the data collection.
Another thing to ask employees is the degree to which they feel included in the workplace. Ask if they feel like they can voice their opinions without being judged or being faced with negative consequences.
This data can help you determine areas for improvement, which can lead to definable, measurable goals. You can set some data-driven key performance indicators (KPIs) and use this to take action.
Have a plan
Before doing anything, plan ahead. This doesn’t just mean do research–you should be thinking about how to tailor your plan to your specific workplace, industry, location, and so on. This may make your plan more effective.
Here are some questions to help you with your diversity and inclusion plan:
- Who (consider demographics above) works at your company now? And who do you want to work at your company?
- What methods will address the needs or pressing issues that are specific to your workplace?
- What are some resources you can use to help you? (Consultants, workshop facilitators, books, podcasts, and more)
- Which parts of your plan directly addresses the goals you have regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Implement in recruitment
Recruitment practices can foster increased diversity in the workplace. If one of your goals was to hire more people of colour, start by taking a look at your recruitment strategies. This can mean implementing a more unbiased screening and selection process, which will improve systemic barriers for people who are often discriminated against.
Here are some ideas for how you can improve your recruitment strategies:
- Post gender neutral job descriptions
- Emphasize your company is an equal opportunity employer
- Instate a blind resume review system, so only skills are looked at instead of names
- Ensure a diverse interview panel
- Train interviewers regarding biases and what can or cannot be asked
Implement inclusive policies that reflect company values
Your policies should reflect company values, which should include diversity and inclusion. Perhaps some of your company values include having a welcoming, multilingual, and multigenerational workplace.
Are your current policies inclusive? Doing a review of what could be improved in company policies is a step towards a more inclusive workplace.
After a policy update, it is crucial to ensure that details are clearly and properly communicated to make sure employees understand and comply with them.
Celebrate different holidays
Celebrating different holidays in the workplace can foster inclusivity and openness among employees. Instead of just having Christmas, consider also celebrating Chinese New Year or Diwali.
If you are unsure where to start, just ask! Listen with an open, non-judgmental mind to show that you are willing to learn and work towards a more inclusive workplace.
Normalize one-on-one meetings
One way to pinpoint areas for improvement is to hold one-on-one meetings with employees. Emphasize that you are open to discussions about ways to foster workplace diversity and inclusivity.
Not only can your employees offer valuable insights, you can also help make them feel more valued in the workplace. Listening to their concerns can help foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that will help with employee retention.
A flexible work schedule is one way to help increase employee retention. Not only that, but it also helps make the workplace more inclusive for everyone.
For example, if an employee had severe period cramps and would prefer to work from home, allowing this flexibility would make their lives a lot easier and ensure that they are not being negatively impacted by having to come in to work. If another employee would like some time off during a non-statutory holiday to celebrate an important cultural holiday, granting this would help with not only workplace diversity, but also workplace inclusion.
As a plus, being flexible will also make your employees feel valued as individuals. If they know that you are understanding and open, they will also be more likely to talk about any concerns or areas for improvement.
Foster dialogue and open conversations
Microaggressions are statements, actions, or incidents that subtly discriminate against a specific and marginalized group. While they may be unintentional, they can still have harmful consequences.
An example of a microaggression would be asking a Black employee where they are really from. One way to acknowledge a microaggression properly would be to listen to the party that has been harmed, acknowledging their feelings as valid, apologizing, and learning from the mistake.
Fostering ongoing dialogue and open conversations about these subjects can normalize conversations about things like race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and so on. This provides employees with opportunities to learn and improve, leading to a more inclusive workplace for everyone.