Today’s work environment is extremely diverse. Company employees differ in terms of gender, ethnic and cultural background, socio-economic position, personality, and of course an array of other factors. We’re lucky to have such diverse work environments because it means we can benefit from diversity of thought, approach and leadership. In harnessing diversity, organisations can expect increased innovation, better employee engagement and potentially even stronger employer branding. However, just simply having diversity in your organisation doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily benefit from it... That’s something you need to make that happen…
In this article Margot, an occupational psychologist, and Svetlana, an HR specialist, explore what you need to do to unleash the power of inclusivity within your organisation.
We want to help businesses realise that whilst having a diverse work force can bring its challenges, a positive approach to diversity can create a more inclusive environment with remarkable organisational advantages.
Diversity and inclusivity may appear as the one and the same, but conceptually there is a distinctive difference that becomes relevant in organisations today. Diversity focuses on the composition of groups and may be defined as a set of different observable (e.g. gender, age…) and non-observable (e.g. culture, cognitive ability…) characteristics of every employee. Inclusion on the other hand, focuses on employee involvement and the integration of diversity into the processes and systems of a company.
To give an example, an organisation can strive to enhance diversity via recruitment procedures or quotas, and in some countries this is becoming the norm. Taking it one step further, in 2007 Norway introduced a law enforcing a gender balance of at least 40% of women in boardroom positions of listed companies. As a result, the percentage of female board members rose from 6% in 2002 to 42% in 2016. Belgium, following in Norway’s footsteps, voted in a law stipulating that in stock-market listed companies, women must hold at least a third of the roles on the Board of Directors.
But whilst these quotas, policies and procedures have the best intent, simply meeting quotas or following processes doesn’t create meaningful results. It’s the environment and how those people work together that matters. The goal is to ensure that diverse teams work well together and benefit from diversity.
The benefits for employees go beyond feeling safer and more welcomed through their company culture.
Research shows that, for example, organisations can benefit from diversity via reduced turnover and increased work performance.
Additionally, diverse workforces can improve innovation & creativity through the team members’ greater variety of perspectives. This implies that heterogeneous groups are more likely to look at a problem from different angles with increased problem solving and critical thinking as a result. Research shows furthermore that higher quality solutions are created when people with different expertise and perspectives come together.
Research conducted by Deloitte further confirms that diversity and inclusion can improve overall business performance due to more collaborative teamwork, better insights in client needs, and a better ability to innovate.
Lastly, diverse workforces help to improve marketing strategy by adapting different strategies for different customers - all thanks to different views of the workforces involved.
The 4 simple steps below will transform your diverse employee group, to a truly diverse and inclusive culture.
But whilst these quotas, policies, and procedures have the best intent, simply meeting quotas or following processes doesn’t create meaningful results. It’s the environment, and how those people work together, that matters.
Inclusivity needs to be part of the company’s focus, and this starts at the top. If your leaders aren’t showing inclusive behaviours then no amount of policies or quotas will help. Inclusive leaders value their employees for their uniqueness and they tend to show a behaviour that is neutral, supportive and curious. Your current leaders might not know how to show such behaviours. To raise awareness about inclusive leadership in an educational, immersive and safe space you can, for example, organise workshops with external facilitators or training. You can even drive self-awareness on the subject by measuring how inclusive your leaders are. Our research & development colleagues in the UK created a 360° feedback tool specifically designed to develop inclusive leadership qualities and there is an entire article dedicated to this tool.
Creating inclusivity within diverse teams is not only achieved by creating an open feedback culture. Inclusivity has to be stimulated and supported by inclusive HR policies, having buy-in and trust from your employees and, of course, inclusive leaders. Besides these factors, it will probably be a good idea to also invest in team building / facilitation where open communication can be practiced.
We see many organisations grappling with the hard task of creating a relevant and relatable feedback experience for their people. The aim of this magazine is to set you on the right path for success.
To truly start enhancing inclusivity, a conversation must take place between employees across all levels, including management. An organisation with a feedback-friendly culture can help build a climate of trust and safety. Let employees feel that they can have a conversation about their performance and develop one’s self without having the fear of being judged or of losing their status or career.
Kick-starting a feedback culture within your company can be assisted by a digital development solution: a multi-rater tool that gets the feedback going. Cubiks can assist your organisation by providing a 360° feedback tool1 where feedback is gathered from multiple resources (manager, colleague, client,…) for one individual, to help to reflect on his or her behaviour within the workforce. Unlike an unstructured feedback session from only one stakeholder (usually a manager), a 360° feedback tool can counter bias thanks to multiple inputs and various point of views on the person. Having an increased number of raters will enhance the interrater reliability and will help to create an anonymous, fair and safe environment for every employee.
360° feedback tool can be a great start to stimulate an open feedback culture that helps inclusion flourish and it is rather easy & quick to implement. So go ahead and download the magazine when you’re ready to take your first leap towards inclusivity.
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1The 360 inclusive leadership is only available in the UK