Diversity is basically any aspect that we can use to differentiate one group from another. It’s about respecting differences in terms of sexual orientation, gender, and ethnicity; when we respect differences, we automatically empower individuals. Diversity involves promoting equality by ensuring that everyone is equally included. Every person in an organization has a different set of experiences and traits, which makes them unique. Inclusion is about treating everyone as an equal so that all have the opportunity to thrive.
Why is inclusivity important?
Building an inclusive business is the ethical and socially responsible thing to do; however, there are many other reasons why inclusivity is important. Creating an inclusive business has many advantages, including:
- Creativity: When you build a diverse team, you’ll ensure that your workforce is collectively creative.
- Avoid staff turnover: employee turnover can be costly, ensuring an inclusive workforce means you’ll lower your staff turnover rates.
- Greater market share: With a diverse workforce, you’re more likely to gain a larger share of your consumer market.
- Remain competitive: To remain competitive in the modern world, businesses must adapt and grow, which means putting diversity and inclusion first.
- Branding: Companies who are seen to be ethical and socially responsible ensure that their brand is stronger and more appealing. When you’re viewed as an ethical company you’ll stand a better chance of improving your sales.
How can I build a more inclusive business?
According to a Mckinsey report, ‘Companies in the top-quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.’ Their data also shows that ‘Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.’ Mckinsey found that companies who do not prioritize diversity are less likely to reach ‘above-average profitability.’
As you can see there are many reasons that you should seek to improve diversity and inclusivity in your business. These twelve ideas will help you to create a roadmap for inclusivity and diversity.
1 . Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Web content accessibility guidelines offer plenty of ideas about making your web content more accessible. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your content can be accessed by people with a range of disabilities, including low vision and blindness, hearing loss, cognitive limitations and learning disabilities. WCA guidelines suggest offering text alternatives for your non-text content; the text can then easily be turned into various forms, whether simple language, braille, or speech. Tools like Audio Eye are useful to help you to identify any WCAG errors on your website. To learn how AudioEye works, check out the website.
- Make Inclusivity A Key Value
When you define your key values, ensure that you include inclusivity as part of these core beliefs. Include a statement about inclusive culture, and try to use as much detail as possible. It can also be a good idea to get feedback from your staff; their ideas may help you to prioritize inclusivity.
- Think about safe spaces
To ensure a more inclusive workplace, it can be helpful to think about creating safe spaces. For example, some companies choose to have gender-neutral bathrooms to promote genderqueer and non-binary inclusion. While you’re at it, consider any other safe spaces you could create for certain groups. You might provide meditation spaces or prayer spaces, for instance.
- Consider your company holidays
To achieve a fully inclusive environment, it’s a good idea to take a look at your company holidays. Instead of only including Christmas and New Year, add any additional holidays to cover the entire business’s religious beliefs. For instance, you might like to include Ramadan or Diwali. Consider closing your business on these days, if this is not possible, put them on your calendar and offer some type of education or special event to mark these occasions.
- Run inclusivity focused events
To create a more inclusive business, it can be a good idea to run inclusivity focused events. You might like to run a social event for Pride Month or host BLM charity events. It is also a good idea to provide mental health-themed events, this will ensure that you are inclusive of staff with mental health issues. Inclusivity is all about making sure that every person in the organization feels valued and included. It’s about celebrating diversity and accommodating the needs of all different types of people.
- Personal pronouns
We use personal pronouns to identify one’s gender; it’s important to give staff the opportunity to choose which person pronouns they identify with. For instance, those who identify as women would typically use ‘she’ and ‘her,’ whereas a nonbinary person might prefer ‘they’ and ‘them.’ Culture Amp’s Steven Huang says that,’ Starting the conversation at an organizational level about understanding and using people’s correct gender pronouns helps ensure an inclusive culture where all voices are given equitable power. Some businesses have started to include gender pronouns in email signatures. This is a great way to show that your company respects gender politics and non-binary individuals.
- Acknowledge and understand bias
To acknowledge and understand bias, it can be helpful to provide unconscious bias training for your company. These programs are useful to reveal the existence of implicit biases and offer tools to help people challenge biased thoughts to avoid discriminatory behaviors. Unconscious bias training helps individuals to understand biases that would have otherwise remained unaware of. By putting our thoughts and opinions under scrutiny, we can become better managers, better employees, and better people.
- Charity work
According to Trail Head, ‘80% of business professionals believe businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and make a positive impact on society.’ Getting involved with diversity and inclusion themed charities is an excellent way to ensure that your business makes a positive impact. For a few ideas to get you started, consider working with the following inclusivity charities:
- American Association For Access, Equity, And Diversity: The AAAED organization is a charity based around affirmative action, diversity, and equal opportunity. This organization is well known for their inclusion work in both the workplace and the education system. The AAAED addresses a wide range of issues, including inclusion in employment, contracting, and business. The organization examines equal opportunity, civil rights, and equity.
- Catalyst: Catalyst is an organization that works to create ‘workplaces that work for women.’ The organization works hard to help businesses to design workplace systems that help women to succeed. Catalyst does this using practical tools, pioneering research, and promoting change. They help companies to create inclusive cultures, eliminate unconscious bias, and build diverse boards.
- Wheelchair access
To help everyone to access your building, it’s vital that your whole office is wheelchair accessible. You should check each different part of your building, and ensure that all areas are wheelchair friendly. To make your office disabled-friendly in general, consider the following options:
- Use assistive technology: You can purchase assistive technology in many forms, whether it’s listening devices, braille displays, speech recognition software, or applications for sign language. Using assistive technology, you can help your disabled employees perform their roles more easily, without limitations.
- Access all areas: Ensure that you use ramps, wheelchair friendly doorways, easily accessible workstations, and wide corridors. As well as your general work stations, you should consider the accessibility of your meeting rooms and restrooms.
- Remote working: Some disabled employees may find it easier to work from home. Giving your staff the option to work from home can also save you money on overheads.
- A respectful company culture
Strive to create a respectful company culture where all of your staff members feel valued. Ideally, you’ll want to encourage a culture where individuals feel connected to the business and the other staff members. Staff need to feel respected and included regardless of their race, religion, age, gender, and so on. You might think that your company culture is respectful, but it’s not until examining your practices in detail that you’ll spot anything that needs addressing.
- Diverse hiring
To build a more inclusive business, it’s important to meet your diversity quotas. You should ensure that your teams are made up of a diverse mix of ethnicities, genders, and ages. When a company lacks diversity, it’s far more difficult for that company to be innovative and fully creative.
- Apps to support inclusivity
Lastly, there are several apps which can help you to improve inclusivity in your company. Try these two options to get you started:
- Blendoor: is a people analytics and augmented intelligence platform to help you recruit and manage a diverse team. The software was designed to eliminate unconscious bias throughout the recruitment processes. It works by hiding the candidate’s names and photos at the initial stage of the hiring procedure.
- Emerj: This is a great workplace diversity app designed to tackle the various biases which hold people back. Using Emerji, your company can tackle gender discrimination in the workplace. The app also comes with some handy while networking features.
To build a more inclusive business, it can be helpful to get feedback from your staff. Your employees may well have an idea or two to share that can help you to strengthen your existing policies.