How to Prioritize Inclusivity and Company Culture in 2023
Various statistics can power your organization to prioritize a more inclusive workplace culture. For example, statistics gathered by Built In notes that “Diverse companies enjoy 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee;” they also found that 75% of job seekers prioritize diverse companies in their job searches. For many stakeholders inside and outside your organization, the focus on inclusivity goes deeper: powering your organization with a more inclusive and conscientious company culture is a moral and social priority. Before you take your next step on making your organization more diverse and inclusive, examine what today’s inclusive company cultures look like and why they matter so much. We also discuss keystone steps for making DEI central to your 2023 workplace transformations.
What is an Inclusive Company Culture?
An inclusive company culture fosters an authentic sense of belonging and support for all the organization members. In these companies, both protected demographic factors (such as age, sex, race, sexual identity, neurodivergence, and others) as well as other factors such as culture, socio-economic background, or role in the business, do not inhibit access to resources or a sense of belonging (while still encouraging employees to feel safe exhibiting uniqueness). The conceptualization of inclusive company culture can feel broad and undefined, so some of the most common features of an inclusive workplace are:
- All employees feel valued within the organization
- Access to resources and opportunities
- Collaborative norms and spaces
- The ability to voice opinions without feeling devalued or unsafe
Just like everyone within an inclusive organization can be unique while working toward a unified purpose, different organizations create different inclusive environments. For example, Autodesk began prioritizing collaboration by creating and maintaining inclusive meeting norms, such as setting meetings for different time zones so that no one is prioritized and directly calling out and resolving interruptions. Chevron also began prioritizing a more inclusive culture decades ago with educational efforts, inclusion initiatives, and guidebooks discussing company policies regarding transgender and LGBTQ+ issues. Your organization can follow these direct examples or create your pathway. What’s key is developing a workplace where everyone feels safe, supported, and free to exist without compromise.
The Importance of Prioritizing Inclusivity and Company Culture
The values of inclusive company cultures often speak for themselves. Many organizations may need prompting and business-related benefits to ensure it receives the prioritization employees want. Authentic buy-in from every level of your organization can set the stage for smoother adoption of these policies: Here are some substantial benefits your organization can realize:
Reach Your ESG Goals
Environment, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives establish socially conscious norms and practices that seek to improve environmental impacts, increase workplace diversity and inclusion, and have more transparent and ethical business standards. Setting and achieving ESG goals help public companies receive more public support and help organizations of all sizes receive more investment. McKinsey found that ” ESG-oriented investing is experiencing a meteoric rise, and global sustainable investment now tops $30 trillion—up 68 percent since 2014 and tenfold since 2004.” By creating more inclusive policies and practices, your organization can develop its public presence, receive more investment, and become known as a trusted business by market participants that care about ESG concerns.
Find, Hire, and Retain More Employees
The disconnect between employees and employers has grown over the past few years. Even in 2017, research from Deloitte found that employees arere searching for workplaces with signature aspects of an inclusive culture, with 47% of their respondents wanting a workplace where they can comfortably be themselves and 36% wanting flexibility that accommodates their day-to-day needs outside of the workplace. Those numbers have grown. Quantum Workplace’s study Diversity + Inclusion: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Make It a Priority finds that “75% of employees think more diversity is needed.” By meeting their needs and cultivating inclusivity, your organization can discover high-performing job candidates and keep them engaged.
Show Your Clients Your Brand’s Authenticity
Even outside your organization’s walls, inclusion and diversity matter for your organization’s success. More and more markets prefer organizations that align with their opinions on core issues. In a Microsoft report on consumers’ purchasing habits, researchers found that “49% [of Gen Z] have stopped purchasing from a brand that did not represent their values.” Simultaneously, over 75% of Gen Z shoppers prioritize authentic advertisements, and 70% want more diverse ads. Developing an inclusive workplace is the first step to demonstrating that desired authenticity and inclusion to your organization’s target markets.
Unconscious Bias and Inclusivity
While striving to create a more inclusive workplace, it is important to understand unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are the implicit positive or negative preferences for things, individuals, or groups shaped by our experiences. These snap judgments can have a significant impact on office culture and the way we work. Unconscious bias makes individuals believe that they are making solid decisions about an individual’s professionalism, ability to contribute, or capabilities based on rational details when, in fact, these assumptions are based on personal preference. With increased awareness, however, it may be changed. Understand that these biases are normal, but by identifying them and their potential effects on the workplace, you can consciously broaden your viewpoint and educate others.
How to Start Creating a More Inclusive Company Culture
Now that you know more about what an inclusive workplace looks like and why it is so valuable to everyone involved in your organization, it is time to take the following steps. We recommend these four actions for promoting and creating a company culture that aligns with your DEI and ESG goals.
Create Transparent and Updated Policy Documents
Set clear policies regarding workplace values and norms. This clearly establishes your organization’s values and what you will do to promote these values. Not only can your organization signal inclusivity to candidates and employees who value it, but these documents also go a long way to constructively addressing and reversing uninclusive behaviors that will no longer be tolerated.
Create Safe Spaces for Feedback, Conversations, and Improvement
Many guides to creating an inclusive workplace prioritize feedback and authentic discussions. You can have those critical aspects of communication without creating the right environment. Do the groundwork to communicate how feedback will be asked for and how you will respond. This can start with anonymous feedback and discuss the norms for addressing inclusion. Only then can you ask for direct and honest feedback.
Be Comfortable With Areas for Improvement
The road to inclusive practices can be turbulent, depending on the existing culture in your workplace. Work on creating transparent processes for addressing mistakes and resolving conflicts. Your HR department needs to help employees feel comfortable coming forward if their behavior makes them uncomfortable, and they need to know their concerns will not be hidden or waved off.
Ensure Leadership Is Fully on Board With DEI Efforts
Real buy-in from your organization’s leadership team is a requirement from the start. Executives, directors, and managers use behaviors and processes to create a more inclusive culture.
The buy-in can’t be going through the motions or reaching high enough metrics to move on to something else. Instead, prioritize continuous training and ensure everyone in a leadership position understands and is engaged in the changes you make moving forward.
Update Your Business’s Content and Communication to Reflect Inclusivity
Messaging matters when you are striving to create a more inclusive workplace. Onboarding policy documents, informal internal communication standards, and client-facing newsletters should model how your organization is determined to behave and exhibit inclusive kindness.