Diversity & Inclusion: What it really means and how it helps improve workplace culture!

Diversity Inclusion in the Workplace in 2021

There have been countless research and analysis that establish benefits of Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace. Office facilities with better Diversity & Inclusion have most often experienced, increased productivity and profitability compared to their counterparts. Also, companies with greater gender diversity have seen a significant rise in financial returns, brand popularity, and employee retention ratio.

What are the Challenges of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion?

It takes conscious efforts and concrete steps to establish the culture of diversity and inclusion in a workplace. It takes significant amount of time to plan a long-term effective strategy that would reap rewards for both the business and its people.  

The biggest hurdle encountered during implementation of any Diversity and Inclusion initiative at the workplace is the lack of knowledge and adequate experience. Let us simplify these two terms first: ‘Diversity’, ‘Inclusion’.

Workplace Diversity

For a Workplace to be ‘Diverse’, it should contain employees from varied beliefs and backgrounds. Race, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, religious beliefs, age difference are all factors that contribute to workplace diversity. It certainly might not be possible to hire diverse people overnight and tick all the varied boxes mentioned above. However, the idea is to introduce and incorporate a system that does not discriminate.

Workplace Inclusion  

The more Diverse a Workplace is, the more Inclusivity it practices. Diversity and Inclusion are like two wheels of a chariot. Diversity in the workplace is like having all the ingredients required to prepare a delicious dish, while inclusion is the power or structure that allows usage of each ingredient equally or as it should be. The idea is to ensure everyone at work feels welcome, appreciated, and valued. No employee should feel belittled or undervalued. Every employee should be given equal opportunity to participate and voice their opinion.

Workplace Diversity & Inclusion – Anchored by the Human Resources Department?

Though propelled by the Human Resources Team, Diversity and Inclusion is more of an efficient Business Strategy and less of an HR affair. The Human Resources team cannot singlehandedly drive the concept of D&I across an organization. Both curiosity and concern must emanate from top management and drill down to every individual in the organization.

Here are some of the best Practices to encourage Workplace Diversity and Inclusion:

Diversity and Inclusion should not remain merely big buzz words, but values absorbed by every employee. Wondering how and where to start?

Here’s a few practices you can start right away:

  • Involve all Employees: Be it a meeting, fun activity event, or a team lunch – try to invite everyone. Converse with everyone, ask for suggestions from everyone, answer everyone and let not a single member feel isolated or lonely. The top management needs to meet managers once a month to strategize plans to improve awareness about D&I in the company.
  • Preach, Practice, & Promote Authenticity: Foster a culture of realism to ensure employees feel comfortable of who they are. No matter what belief they follow or what race they belong to or what language they speak – ensure employees feel proud of it. Under no circumstances, should any employee feel left out for being themselves in their workplace. It might be difficult to process the culture of ‘respect for one, respect for all’ overnight but the top management should conduct workshops and seminars to make it a company directive.
  • Craft an Inclusive Infrastructure: Create an all-encompassing work structure. This is not a-once-in-a-year or once-in-a-month activity or event but a round-the-year system that needs to be nurtured post meticulous planning. Sending out just an email to managers or individual employees will not make them ready for an inclusive office culture. The management along with the HR team will need to create spaces for employees to share their problems and double back with practicable solutions in record time. Team managers should be trained to cultivate the culture of inclusivity.
  • Roadmap to Establish the culture of Diversity and Inclusion: Rightly said by an elderly man – any plan without prefixed targets is merely an unrefined vague idea. In order to establish a plan, a road map with milestones or targets attached is a must.

These were some of the ways which Diversity and Inclusion can be inspired and instilled in your workplace. Have an idea to share? You can write in the comment section!

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