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5 ways to improve diversity and inclusion in your organization

In 2021, many executives and business leaders have embraced initiatives to increase levels of diversity among employees. However, a diverse workforce is just the first step of a strategy to create an inclusive and diverse workplace. Diversity in the workplace does not mean inclusion. Although making diversity a priority is important, creating a culture of inclusion matters a lot. Inclusion is key to maintaining diversity in the workplace. Here are 5 ways you can improve diversity and inclusion in your workplace.

1) Being intentional, not complacent

Beware of the phrase: “we are a very inclusive and diverse organization”, especially when delivered by someone who is not part of an under-represented group. The hard truth and the challenge is that many business leaders, who are not themselves part of any minority groups (women, people of colour, LGBT+, etc…), genuinely believe that every employee in their organisation has equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc… Many leaders are not aware of the systemic challenges that women, people of colour, LGBT+ and other under-represented groups experience in their own workplace daily. The danger is that they become complacent about their own diversity and inclusion efforts, and they stop investing in it. Obviously, this exacerbates the day-to-day microaggressions experienced by their employees from under-represented groups. The most inclusive and diverse organisations are constantly investing time and resources in new, better diversity and inclusion programmes. It's not good enough to bring in unconscious bias training and think you have checked a box. Organisations should set diversity and inclusion goals for workforce composition, workforce composition in leadership, professional development, leadership accountability and constantly monitor the progress to assess where they should invest next. If you want to learn how to be intentional about diversity and inclusion, download my free ebook “The Ultimate Diversity Champion Guide”.

2) Hiring diverse vendors

Most organisations do not take into consideration the vendor or supplier component as part of their diversity and inclusion strategy. Small and medium size organisations in particular tend not to set any goals to hire diverse suppliers. The common belief is that supplier diversity is not part of a diversity and inclusion strategy and that it is complex to implement. However, an organisation can not be an inclusive and diverse one if they ignore the diverse vendor component because suppliers are part of their ecosystem. Setting goals to hire vendors that are owned by under-represented groups (women, people with disabilities, LGBT+ individuals, etc…) can be simple and have a big impact on the ecosystem much faster than anticipated. If your organisation is serious about diversity and inclusion, it should proactively seek to attract and retain diverse vendors. A diverse supplier indicator refers to the ability to create a diverse vendor base, which the organisation can use to promote diversity and inclusion. This also means that the organisation has established concrete spending goals and is actively seeking diverse vendors for company’s projects. Diverse suppliers include female-owned businesses, businesses owned by non-white individuals and disabled-owned businesses amongst others. Supplier diversity goals should be in place to ensure that the organisations actively support diverse populations externally as well.

3) Compensating diversity and inclusion performance

Another common mistake is to leave compensation out of the diversity and inclusion strategy. If diversity and inclusion is good for business, it should be compensated as such. Just like revenue, sales pipeline or new product launch, diversity should be rewarded like any other business metric. Companies that incentivize leaders by tying a certain percentage (I recommend 30%) of their annual bonus if they meet specific diversity and inclusion goals set themselves up for success. Starbucks, Mcdonalds and Nike are examples of organisations tying executive pay to diversity targets. Starbucks said it would mandate anti bias training for executives and tie their compensation to increasing minority representation in its workforce, becoming the latest company to set fresh diversity goals in the midst of a national conversation over race. Nike laid out a five-year roadmap to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, as corporate America is increasingly being held accountable for their values and the actions that come with them. McDonald’s is tying 15% of executives’ bonuses to meeting targets including diversity and inclusion and began disclosing data on the racial makeup of its workforce, major steps by one of the largest U.S. companies to better reflect the population.The benefit of setting monetary rewards is that it drives real behaviour in action. To drive a systemic culture of change, organisations must create goals that are linked with financial rewards. To test your diversity and inclusion knowledge and get personalised advice, take this two-minute quiz: “what type of diversity champion are you?”.

4) Setting goals for diverse employees retention (not just hiring)

Many organisations with diversity and inclusion strategy implement a hiring programme to attract diverse talents in their workplace. They set goals to attract female talent, non-white talent, disabled talents, LGBT+ talent, etc... However, many organisations fail to implement a programme to keep this new talent engaged, to promote them and to set-them up for success in the long term. This leads to a retention problem for underrepresented employees. Women, people of colour, disabled individuals face systemic challenges in the organisation: they are not consulted in meetings, they are not offered glamour work or stretch assignment, they are not mentored or sponsored, theory are not promoted at the same rate, and they are at the receiving end of microaggressions. In other words, these organisations spend time and resources hiring diverse talents but they lose them due to a lack of focus on retaining them. A simple way to retain diverse talent is to get help from diversity consultants who can build a programme to retain and even promote diverse talents so that the organisation can benefit from a truly inclusive, diverse and engaged workforce that will be more productive.

5) Establish mentorship programmes to foster inclusion

For every 100 men promoted to manager-level roles, only 79 women moved up into similar roles. The numbers are even more worse for women of color, who make up only 17% of entry-level roles and 4% of C-suite positions, according to the 2018 Women in the Workplace report released by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org. Women, people of colour and other underrepresented employees face systemic challenges in the workplace when it comes to career progression. Mentorship programmes provide an opportunity for women, people of colour and other underrepresented employees to tackle these challenges in a meaningful way and to foster true inclusion in your organisation. One 2016 study in the American Sociological Review found that mentoring, in comparison to other corporate tactics increased minority representation among managers in the workplace anywhere from 9 to 24 percent. Find out why mentorship programmes work by watching my video titled 3 Ways Mentoring Fosters Inclusion (And Why It's So Successful!).

While an increasing number of organisations are investing in diversity and inclusion programmes, only a few of them have a really holistic approach to diversity and inclusion. Investing in diversity training, unconscious bias training, hiring professional diversity speakers and creating Employee Resource Groups are positive initiatives and they should be part of a long-term, holistic approach to diversity and inclusion in order to achieve a systemic culture of change. At Inspired Human, we specialise in helping organisations double employee engagement and retention through diversity and inclusion programmes so that they can hit their retention and productivity goals. Book your complimentary diversity and inclusion consultation today: ;

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