We all know at this point how vital Diversity and Inclusion is in the modern workplace. Diverse organizations are not only able to tap into different groups and perspectives, but they are also better at making decisions and see an increase in profits. Most organizations have gotten better at the diversity aspect, but might still be lagging on the inclusion. You’ve improved your hiring practices to ensure people from all walks of life can join your team - but is your organization actually inclusive and welcoming? How does one ensure to nail both the D and the I?
Where We Are Now
Studies have shown that when people of color join an organization, they still face microaggressions and discomfort due to their race or ethnicity. A 2016 report by the Harvard Business Review showed that 63% of Latinx individuals don’t feel welcome, invited to share their ideas, or feel valued and heard. Another 2015 study by the Harvard Business Review found that almost half of Black women feel their ideas are not heard or recognized. Clearly, there is plenty of room for growth and improvement that is vital to making true diversity and inclusion a reality. It’s not just about giving everyone a seat at the table, it’s about pulling out a chair for them and listening to what they have to say.
What We Can Do Better
Progress can come from anywhere but it also needs to come from everywhere. An organization has to make an effort to set clear expectations as to how they will better achieve inclusion. Leadership needs to not only be on board, but leading the process and ensuring everyone follows. There needs to be open and honest conversations about how to best achieve these goals so that everyone can get on the same page and contribute. On the other hand, there also needs to be accountability. An organization can’t preach diversity and post it on social media but not stick with it internally. There needs to be follow through - this is not something that can be fixed overnight and will be a long term commitment.
While many people can feel passionate about D&I and have opinions on how to improve it, ultimately it is important to listen to the professionals. There are plenty of D&I trainings and consultants that can come in and get the ball rolling. This is not something that can be fixed with a single training but it can set the foundation for how to move forward and what is acceptable. It is important for everyone to understand the different faces of workplace racism and microaggressions, how to combat then, and how to create a genuinely inclusive environment.
In order to improve the way things are, we have to look at the way things have been. Many of the processes we’ve come to accept in our organizations have a lot of room for improvement. Implementing structured and transparent processes are a good first step in making a workplace more inclusive and ensuring no one is disadvantaged by the system. Salary transparency, for instance, has been shown to benefit women and people of color, and help fight against any pay discrepancies in regards to gender or race. It’s important to reexamine how your processes might be helping or hurting this cause. Is there a timeline and structure in regards to bonuses or raises? Or is it up to the individual employees to request these conversations and vouch for themselves? Is there room for negotiation? Are these processes well-established and understood by all employees? Studies show that women are more likely to avoid negotiations - in order to avoid contributing to the wage gap, these processes should be transparent so employees can be on the same page and not miss out on opportunities.
Get To It
True diversity and inclusion is a long-term commitment that needs buy-in from the whole team as well as accountability up, down, and sideways. It’s important to ensure that there is a system in place to give and receive feedback in an open and honest way. Employees should have a space to engage in these conversations, whether it is to call out a microaggression or to give a suggestion on how to continue improving the company. Remember those clear goals we discussed before? Make sure those are well understood across the board and that everything the company does aligns with those goals.
These changes to the company culture might take some getting used to and seeing the tangible difference they make might take a while, but ultimately it is an investment in the people and the organization that will pay off for the long haul.
If your organization is looking to hire individuals from diverse backgrounds but isn’t sure where to look, TTS can help. Read more about our corporate training programs here.
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