To achieve successful outcomes for their businesses, employers must be able to provide a stimulating office environment which helps employees reach their full potential. Several factors should be carefully considered to create this ideal workspace, including the encouragement of values such as diversity and inclusivity.
Humans are social creatures. The feeling that one is part of something grander than oneself can really impact productivity and motivation. More specifically, experiencing a sense of belonging to a collective group will play into an employee’s work, or anything else they do for that matter. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is sure to bring direct change to the environment, but can also positively contribute to overall company culture and brand.
So, what exactly are diversity and inclusivity? Are they different? Workspace diversity calls for the presence of a variety of employees. Their differences may be mainly characterized by physical and social demographics such as age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and even economic background and education level. When a workplace possesses a diverse workforce, it can be followed up with inclusivity.
In this case, inclusivity is present when the employer and office culture actively integrate diverse staff through activities, procedures, and policies. What differentiates employees from one another should be allowed to coexist. Naturally, it is also important to ensure each employee feels comfortable and safe in the workspace, and is always treated with respect.
Now comes the question: How exactly can you achieve diversity and inclusivity in your office?
If you wish to be the best employer in this regard, keep reading!
Facilitating Inclusivity as an Employer
There are many ways to maintain an atmosphere of inclusivity at the office. However, the process starts in the earliest stages of assembling your team. To bring together a diverse group who together produce effective results, employers must first attract then hire candidates with a variety of backgrounds.
In general, candidates, especially those from marginalized groups, seek opportunities where positions offer a work-life balance, skilled managers, and a workplace with a sense of social responsibility. A company which supports these values will attract diverse candidates who know their worth and what they stand for.
To further improve the chances of finding diverse talent, employers should follow these tactics:
- Create intentional, clear, and honest job postings.
Being open and transparent about work culture and values goes a long way. Employers should also avoid any ambiguity in job listings. Clarity will benefit both the employer and the potential employee because clear, concise descriptions make vacancies significantly better at capturing attention and acquiring responses. It is important as well to ensure that the language in posts remains unbiased and nondiscriminatory.
- Collect referrals from existing employees.
It’s likely your diverse employees have connections with other diverse professionals who are qualified job candidates. Employers should encourage their existing team members to share new job listings with their networks and if willing, across personal social media channels as well.
- Learn about the candidates.
Many companies resort to hiring candidates quickly to simply fill positions as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this often results in a lack of diversity, especially when candidates are connections of homogenous networks of people. A useful tip is to black out candidates’ names while their applications. This way, employers may look purely at the talent and experience of potential employees, avoiding any bias and internal prejudice which could arise.
- Include diverse stakeholders in the hiring process.
Candidates appreciate seeing themselves represented in companies they are considering to join. Not only can including diverse stakeholders in the hiring process help candidates feel more comfortable, but it also reinforces the inclusive nature of the workspace.
Once you’ve assembled a diverse team, it is important to continue prioritizing inclusivity and assure employees feel truly welcomed. This will communicate your ability to be a thoughtful employer and a good leader.
However there is one thing to look out for: tokenism. Do not fall for this trap. Tokenism is a social phenomenon which occurs when singular members of underrepresented, minority groups are recruited as a form of performative diversity and inclusion, attempting to create the appearance of racial, gender, or sexual equality in the workplace.
Now, let’s learn how employers can sustain an inclusive workspace both on-site and in virtual formats.
Inclusivity in a Hybrid Workspace
Whether the pandemic has finally ended or not, one thing is certain: remote work is here to stay. The past few years have proven working from home, remotely, online, virtually - whatever you want to call it - provides a lot of benefits. Consequently, it’s safe to say hybrid work models are here to stay. But with employees working remotely, perhaps from around the world, how would a collective company culture with true inclusivity be possible?
Interestingly enough, the future of inclusive work goes hand-in-hand with the ability to work remotely. Consider the number of underrepresented groups who can find alternate employment thanks to the influx of virtual opportunities. Stay-at-home parents with children, or employees with family members requiring care, employees with health conditions, and those with a traveling lifestyle and most notably, students just entering the workforce seeking to gain experience - each of these diverse groups can benefit from working remotely for a company which values inclusivity.
In regards to bringing remote and on-site workers together, ensure team meetings and activities are engaging for both sides. For instance, place emphasis on the important of having cameras and microphones turned on during virtual meetings, utilizing the chat box and reaction features, as well as paying attention to when someone wants to add something to the conversation. Additionally, have on-site staff turn and face the screen so to be visible to the staff joining online. These techniques can encourage feelings of inclusion.
Find more ways to prioritize inclusivity in a hybrid office below:
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs are employee-led special interest networks based on specific identity types ranging from religion, race, LGBTQ+, disability, being a parent, and more. The presence of these groups communicates the care a company has for its employees and allows them to express themselves without judgement. These spaces allow ERG members to unite.
- Holiday celebrations
There are numerous holidays and events across cultures which can be celebrated together. Consider religious holidays like Easter and Eid, Christmas and Lunar New Year, or cultural holidays like Persian and Central Asian New Year, Nowruz, Pride Month, and King’s Day in the Netherlands. Not only can recognizing important events make employees who associate with these cultures feel seen and valued, but they can also serve as great educational opportunities for the rest of the office to learn about these traditions and grow a more integrated community.
- Team meals
Food is the universal language able to transcend all borders. Team meals can be hosted both in-person through physical lunches or online over video-calls. Virtually cooking together has become a popular practice among work teams since the beginning of the pandemic proving its effectiveness in generating team spirit.
- Team building activities
Aside from enjoying (or cooking) together, it could be nice to also have general team building in the workplace, online or offline. Most often, these can be ice-breaker activities and games which allow employees to simply get to know each other better and again, add to that sense of belonging to the company.
Inclusivity as a Competitive Advantage
As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to having a diverse and inclusive workspace. Our societies are becoming increasingly globalised and leading firms all over the world are recognizing that promoting inclusivity leads to more effective hiring, more efficient team performance and thus greater end results.
- Creativity and innovation
In diverse workplaces, people with various backgrounds and experiences can come together to generate new and innovative ideas, produce effective problem-solving techniques and allowing their creativity to flow.
- Employee engagement
Naturally, in companies where employees are valued for their contributions and feel included in the inner workings of their environment, motivation to work to the best of one’s ability and ultimately produce powerful results.
- Top candidates
Higher-quality candidates with top skills and desirable capabilities are most attracted to companies with diverse and inclusive cultures. Thus, such companies are more likely to hire these candidates.
- Better understanding of target customers in specific markets
Employees who are members of minority groups can offer better insights and engage in more effective communication with customers in similar markets, allowing for greater amounts of high quality work.
- International business
The presence of employees from various backgrounds leads to an increase in professional networks, opportunities and may result in successful business endeavors across the globe.
- Social responsibility and reputation
The primary goal of hiring a diverse workforce should not only be about being seen as a ‘good’ and tolerant company, as talked about in relation to tokenism. Nonetheless, a positive reputation which may result from such practices can happen to improve the public’s view of the company.
- Higher profitability
All of the previous points combined contribute to the fact that diverse companies are more productive, show better results, and achieve higher revenue and profits.
A Diverse Future: Including Youth at Work
Let us now consider how the younger generation can contribute to a company’s success.
Young people such as students and recent graduates can present fresh ideas. Their perspectives hold potential thanks to the knowledge youth have regarding new trends or events.
Furthermore, young international talent possess adaptability and agility. They are energetic and eager to begin working and collecting new experiences.
Hiring young people can result in better leverage of resources for the company. Since most do not have much prior experience, they can begin working in entry-level positions and initially require lower wages.
The lack of experience of students and graduates is most often treated as a negative. However, employers should try to be more open-minded and see this as opportunities to train the young candidates and be the first to bring them into the workforce, all while adapting bright minds to the specific needs of the company. Consider offering apprenticeships and internship positions which are solid methods to bring in young workers. This way, employers will be able to observe, assess and decide whether the candidates are a right fit for them long-term.
All in all, including youth at work contributes to the competitiveness of a company.
An inclusive and diverse workforce in the office, whether on-site, remotely, or in a hybrid mode, will be followed by the generation of innovative ideas, fuelled by creativity. Such productive change can only positively influence a company’s profitability and social reputation. However, when building an inclusive workspace, it’s also important to ensure the involvement of diverse groups, and the representation of different voices. Overall, in our post-pandemic era, the future of inclusive work is hybrid and diverse.