Workplace inclusion is more than just sending invites to a company gathering—it's the magic ingredient that thrusts diversity and equity into action. More specifically, it fosters a sense of belongingness and value in the workplace. This results in higher productivity, better services, and soaring revenue.
Differentiating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
While the terms diversity and inclusion have been used interchangeably, there's a striking difference between the two. On a surface level, diversity pertains to the social characteristics that distinguish individuals in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity among others. On a larger scale, it also talks about differences in lived experiences. This captures the facts of a person's socioeconomic background, disability, religion, neurodiversity, and even life experiences.
Equity, on the other hand, is about facilitating fair access. Unlike equality, equity banks on the fact that we don’t kick off from the same starting point. It acknowledges and addresses these gaps by "leveling the playing field.” For instance, using skills-based hiring would address educational disparities among candidates.
When talking about inclusion, we mean the mechanisms that allow these differences to meet and integrate into the workplace to spur engagement, teamwork, and innovation despite the distinctions. An inclusive workplace allows employees to equally enjoy resources, opportunities, and fair treatment. Point blank, diversity is the "what" while inclusion is the "how.”
How can your company foster workplace inclusion?
- Educate the workplace top-down. Executives are not only the decision-makers, they are the number one drivers of change. When training and campaigns are limited to middle and lower management, we exclude the top management from actively participating in breaking DE&I barriers. These initiatives should start from the top and should not be reduced as another HR concern. Training and information drives should capture the audience while clearly delivering messages. A New Day, our introduction course on DE&I, tackles issues with results-driven and science-based methods. It's the buffer every company needs for more advanced DE&I training.
- Uphold DE&I through anti-discrimination policies. Strong regulations at work should complement education programs. Although sensitivity training is supposed to be enacted in daily life, some people take information from these courses as mere suggestions. Having a policy that prevents employees from engaging in discriminatory, damaging, and alienating practices should be discouraged and nipped in the bud.
- Effectuate equitable ways of hiring and leadership. This could mean posting job openings on platforms accessible to more diverse candidates; treating applicants with fairness during shortlisting; and, asking the right questions during interviews. In leadership, it can mean exercising self-awareness and challenging unconscious bias or breaking the male-dominated trope of top-level management.
- Be receptive to feedback. Employees who feel like they are being heard are more loyal and dedicated to work. To this end, listen to what employees have to say. This facilitates a good dialogue and working relationship between workers and management to potential community-level kinship.
- Implement supportive infrastructure, language, and other cultural sensitivity initiatives. This could mean ensuring that the office is accessible to those using wheelchairs or those with other physical disabilities, allocating a room or office for prayer, recognizing cultural and ethnic holidays, and exercising gender-fair language. These are only a few measures sure to change the social landscape at work.
Creating an equitable and thriving workplace happens when DE&I initiatives are properly implemented. It brings about changes that not only comply with laws and regulations but also improve working conditions for all. It essentially gives rise to a system overhaul that changes the company from the inside out, making room for higher profitability, increased resilience, and a healthier workplace.
If you’d like to see how WILL Interactive uses real-life scenarios to help your workforce get behind your DE&I initiatives, request a demo of A New Day - A highly engaging interactive movie where your employees can play characters and make important decisions, allowing them to experience the consequences of those decisions in a fully immersive learning environment.