How To Create An Inclusive Workforce – Connect HR Strategy. Atlanta

How To Create An Inclusive Workforce

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Diversity and Inclusion are NOT synonyms. Since these concepts became a thing a number of years ago, they are often lumped together as if they were.

Although not easy to successfully implement, Diversity is perhaps more easily understood:

From the Diversity Office of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, “Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.” The inclusive approach is fundamentally participatory, everyone must be able to express themselves and be entitled to the same opportunities.

So, if your leadership team, advisors and team members are broadly represented, is that enough? No, your job has only just begun. It does nothing to have a diverse workforce if there are not channels to enable their diverse voices to be heard, considered and acted upon. Furthermore, listening is not enough. Inclusion also means that decision making is done by those same people within their scopes of their responsibility.

According to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, in the 2018 article, "6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace", a good starting point includes:

  1. Educate Your Leaders – as with other leadership and technical training, most people don’t have an innate understanding of Inclusion;
  2. Form an Inclusion Council – if taken seriously, this is one way to assure accountability to the goal;
  3. Celebrate Employee Differences – this could range from presentations by employees from other cultures to holding pot-luck lunches with traditional foods;
  4. Listen to Employees – through surveys, focus groups, town-hall meetings;
  5. Hold More Effective Meetings – follow structured guidelines for meetings to ensure that nobody gets “talked over” and that “groupthink” doesn’t quash the alternative ideas likely to be raised by the less vocal in the group
  6. Communicate Goals and Measure Progress – what gets measured gets done.

The article describes only a starting point, however. It’s necessary to discover how to assure that decisions are made and respected by these diverse team members. That doesn’t mean that every decision needs to be made by a diverse team. It does mean, however, that when business circumstances justify, which is the majority of the time, that this does happen, so that when an executive needs to decide by herself, she’s given credit for considering input the rest of the time. And just because an executive is from a diverse background, that doesn’t mean that decisions made by her in a vacuum are automatically inclusive.

Need help on getting started or strengthening the current Diversity and Inclusion efforts of your organization? Connect HR Strategy assists its clients in the full spectrum of HR leadership and administration, such as ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce, which has repeatedly been proven to result in better decisions (think revenue and profitability as prime motivators). Contact us to discuss how we can assist you!