Are you trying to foster innovation as the driver for business success in your organization?

Don’t forget to foster DEI as your strategy into the fabric of your organization. 

Every individual’s background, beliefs, and experiences give them a unique lens with which they look at situations, business or otherwise. Creating a culture that makes all employees feel safe to voice their perspectives serves the interests of the organization and society, as well.    

What does a workplace with such a culture look like – 

  • Its leaders are as diverse as its employees, communities, and people it serves. Inclusion is a way of working and embedded in the culture. 
  • Everyone feels that they can speak up without fearing any repercussions. 
  • Everyone has equal access to growth and advancement. 
  • Being adaptive, recognizing bias, and mitigating it are considered a part of leadership development and essential for decision-making, team-building, and problem-solving. 
  • Training on unconscious bias and fair hiring and promotion policies are a given and a part of the governance process.

Why is it necessary for DEI to be a part of the culture?

When DEI is not ingrained in your culture, leaders do not know how to cultivate an inclusive environment that encourages diversity and makes people feel safe. You may continue to hire diverse talent, but you will not be able to retain it. Underrepresented groups will continue to feel they need to change their company to advance their careers. 

How do we build an inclusive culture?

  • Train leaders on empathy. It is difficult for leaders who have never experienced exclusion to fathom what their underrepresented team members might be experiencing. Frequent dialogue with employees on when they felt included or excluded and what they wish would change in the behaviors of their colleagues is one way to sensitize leaders. 
  • Advocate inclusive communication and behaviors. Value unique perspectives, experiences, and contributions of people. Don’t let loud voices dominate meetings. Encourage the involvement of silent team members in discussions and initiatives. Share thoughts and feelings to build trust.  
  • Give direct and actionable feedback on behaviors and outcomes rather than on the person. It is human to hesitate to give feedback to colleagues who are different from you out of fear of how they might react. Knowing your bias will empower you to clarify what is needed for success with everyone. 

We know now that- 

  • Ethnically diverse companies in the top quartile outperform companies in the bottom quartile. They earn more revenue from innovation and are more profitable. 
  • Diverse companies are more likely to capture new markets. 
  • Inclusive organizations have higher employee engagement, morale, and satisfaction and lower turnover.

Isn’t this a strong case for fostering an inclusive culture as a business priority rather than running stand-alone DEI initiatives? What do you see as a first step for you?

PS – Do you want to be a more inclusive leader or build more inclusive teams? Book a conversation and discover, how I can help.