A business’ success is determined by inclusivity and equity within its organisational culture. A well-strategised roadmap to sustainable diversity and inclusion can help guide your company in cultivating a hospitable and thriving work environment, while boosting employee retention. Read on to find effective ways to foster an inclusive workplace and advocate meaningful change.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies are evolving to become more inclusive and equitable over time, and have become pivotal for organisations to retain employees and attract new talent. No longer regarded as mere policies, or instituted quotas, equitable businesses are seeking ways to integrate a sustainable diversity and inclusion framework to tackle inclusivity issues, maintain a diverse workforce, and provide equal opportunities for all. D&I practices are influential in bringing positive reform to the workplace, making it increasingly important for companies to support and review their measures promptly.
Major company CEOs regard D&I as their top talent management priority. In 2021, 79% of senior executives in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) revealed active integration of inclusivity measures to attract and retain diverse workforces. A more recent study into APAC’s business landscape by Equality Group spotlighted over 150 leading organisations that have shown incredible progress in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space across the region.
With the implementation of DEI practises becoming more critical than ever for business growth, organisations need to offer equitable opportunities and treatment for all employees. Here are some essential D&I strategies to foster diversity, innovation, and integrity at the workplace, while making a lasting impact.
Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion
Fostering more sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies can allow businesses to create genuinely diverse and resilient spaces for employees from all walks of life.
Companies can start with reframing their hiring policies to become more inclusive, while building more friendly, welcoming, and engaged workplaces to empower individuals to reach their full potential. This further contributes to higher productivity levels, an increase in creativity, while building a greater sense of community to boost employee morale and retention.
Promote Cognitive Diversity
One of the bigger challenges in adopting D&I strategies is that most companies recruit candidates with similar backgrounds or traits, within their comfort zones, or merely fulfil the criteria to maintain a certain percentage of diversity within an organisation. Consequently, employees appointed by management may share parallel values and perceptions of the world, which could lead to unconscious biases in the workplace. Such “homogeneity hires” hinder growth, innovation, and individualism within an organisation, and further limit opportunities for a diverse labour force.
Promoting cognitive diversity can help tackle this issue of unconscious biases, and can encourage employees to acquire new skills and knowledge. It offers individuals a greater scope of opportunities to unlock creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills, as they get to learn alongside a diverse workforce. Deloitte reports how cognitively diverse teams have amplified their innovation by up to 20%.
Celebrate Diversity & Inclusivity
Embracing diversity in organisations opens a wide scope of opportunities and new experiences for employees, while fostering a vibrant and dynamic team culture. Learning to be accepting and respectful of different traditions and perspectives, whether a person’s cultural background or sexual preference, is an integral component to building a welcoming workspace for all.
Companies can demonstrate acceptance towards other’s cultures by inviting employees to celebrate special festivals together with their colleagues, and observing historic milestones such as Pride Events, Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, South Asian Women’s Day, alongside many others.
Businesses can set aside a budget to organise such special events, and send company messages to show awareness of global culture and diversity, which can make a significant impact on cultivating an inclusive workplace.
Foster Diverse Thinking
D&I is often perceived through the lens of one’s gender, race, sexual orientation, or cultural background, however, a new theory of diversity of thought is gaining traction. Everyone thinks uniquely, and has varying approaches to different situations. One’s interpretations and interactions with the world reflect your identity and unique experiences, and by fostering diverse thinking at workplaces, companies can exhibit a greater understanding and value for those differences.
Diversity of thought should be integrated in consideration of one’s unique background and lived professional experiences. Additionally, by embracing neurodiversity in hiring and management, workplaces can attract new talent, and expand their creative scope, through a more skilled and well-informed labour force.
Most D&I training programmes are designed with a significant emphasis on mitigating implicit bias, particularly without much coverage on how workplaces could sustain behaviours and change in the long run. To implement lasting impact, companies should introduce a more effective enterprise-wide strategy with a focus on diversity and leadership coaching to build greater awareness, and reframe organisational culture, while offering employees upskilling opportunities over time.
A manager’s relationships with their team is important, and they are the key driving force behind engagement, motivation, and morale. Organisations should invest more in training leaders to create an excellent employee experience, while empowering them to make equitable decisions, and build psychological safety and trust amongst their workforce.
Good leaders are essential to helping businesses make progress and build more equitable, inclusive, well-represented, and high-performing workforces.
Evaluate & Revamp DEI Policies
Human resource (HR) leaders need to actively seek ways to ensure a safe and inclusive workspace for their employees by keeping track of the effectiveness of their D&I policies. Any internal issue that may disrupt an employee’s sense of belonging must be flagged immediately to upper management for a timely resolution.
Globally, around 81% of employees have expressed that they would not stay with companies lacking commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.
Employers need to start rethinking their D&I policies to address discriminative processes and restore a positive and equitable workplace, while taking the next step in turning those guidelines into deep-rooted practices to ensure they maintain an inclusive corporate culture. Most importantly, welcome feedback and encourage employees to speak directly and transparently on issues regarding company diversity and inclusion by offering them an open communication portal.