Whether you are a small business or global enterprise, it is a fundamental responsibility to shift mindsets, behaviors and practices towards a more equitable and inclusive organizational culture. This is not simply about laws that apply to discrimination as protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but a humanitarian and mindful approach to how each company stands behind 100% of their employees’ wellbeing.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace means recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees that are from different backgrounds, have different skills, are treated as equally vital parts of the greater organization, and are a representation of society at large. But creating a culture that mirrors this statement takes coordination and effort.
Step 1: Identify your Core Values
Agreeing at an executive level of what your core values are will be the basis for how you build policies formulated on the company’s commitment, and integrated with day-to-day operations. Having a unifying principle will support both communications and actions that set the stage for a more trusting and understanding working environment. Once the core values are identified, they will then need to be incorporated into the organization’s code of conduct or employee handbook for regular training and reinforcement of company-wide expectations.
Step 2: Audit your Current Footprint
Start with a current baseline of how all of your employees feel about the organization and current policies. A good springboard is through an anonymous survey, outlining the intention and the importance of honest feedback. Review your organization to assess current staffing and the levels of inclusion for diverse races, nationalities, genders and identities, and what your company is doing to promote and empower people of diverse backgrounds. Finally, evaluate how you are supporting those employees, or candidates, that require accessibility due to physical or psychological conditions. The audit is a direct look at your current people, infrastructure and opportunities for all employees.
Step 3: The Waterfall Approach
As with all waterfalls, they start high and fall downward. This is true for cultural framework, as any shifts must start at the top of the executive team and filter throughout the organization, including part time and contracted employees. This step typically includes special diversity and inclusion training for supervisors and managers across the organization to weigh in first, and then embrace cascading a consistent approach going forward. When all employees see their voice was heard, and the points applied, the cultural shift is more easily accepted and appreciated.
Step 4: Communicate, Evaluate, and Repeat
With all new programs, especially those that will have a lasting impact on a company’s culture, consistent and frequent communication is key. Employees need to understand the reason for a shift in policy, understand their role, and buy in to the ongoing lifestyle that is being demonstrated by their leadership and colleagues. There will be challenges throughout the process! Expect them and accept them. One great phrase about Diversity, Equality and Inclusion is “Progress, not Perfection”. It is important to evaluate the progress that is being made, identify areas for further improvement, and then update policies, training, town halls and all other forums of communication to keep this important aspect of diversity and inclusion alive within your program.
TI is happy to provide the following resources to support your quest for a cultural shift that fundamentally incorporates diversity, equality and inclusion: