The Human Element: 5 Steps For Creating A Truly Inclusive Work Culture

Employee diversity is a good thing for companies. Several studies show that diverse and inclusive companies have better financial performance than those that aren’t, yet headlines today point to the diversity gap that persists across industries. A Bersin by Deloitte study highlighted this gap when it reported that 70% of the diversity and inclusion leaders surveyed said their organizations portrayed themselves as inclusive yet only 11% of them indicated they truly were.

The missing link between having diversity as a policy and implementing it in practice is the human element. In order to cultivate true inclusion, a company must shape its cultural mindset, one employee at a time. Policies don’t create inclusion, people do. Therefore, it’s crucial for organizations to be committed to listening to and understanding their employees, training and rewarding model behavior, promoting camaraderie, and leading by example. By focusing on their employees as individuals, companies will be able to create true inclusion.

1

Defining The Gap: What Employees Actually Say About Working At The Best Companies

Glassdoor users’ anonymous reviews of Fortune’s top 10 Best Companies To Work For, commonly praised these organizations for having great people, a supportive culture and environment, and ample learning and growth opportunities.

While there were many positive work culture reviews, some employees also made suggestions for improvements. At Genentech for instance, one employee “would like to see more diversity in senior leadership.” Other employees at these organizations expressed frustration with seemingly flawed company practices. At Wegmans, Genentech, and Acuity, employees were dissatisfied with what they believed was an unfair job promotion system where opportunities were not given to those that “really deserved them,” and at Baird, Salesforce, and Acuity, some employees believed their organizations weren’t transparent, or needed to communicate more clearly about career growth opportunities.  Other employees had suggestions for their management teams. At Google, one employee asked leadership to consider that technically brilliant people may not be the best managers, and at Genentech another employee suggested they should stop hiring “non-people-people” in senior leadership.
In order to understand the gap between work culture policies and practices, including diversity and inclusion, organizations should be aware of the employee experience. It is important to find and analyze any trends that may exist related to which employees feel they do not have access to job growth and development opportunities, or do not have the adequate guidance, support and sponsorship from managers and leaders in their organization. By understanding the real employee experience, employers can implement policies and practices that help develop the intended work culture.

Diversity And Inclusion In Practice - Are Companies Recognizing The Gap?

As of 2016, just 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies were run by women CEOs, and earlier this month Catalyst reported that women hold 5.8% of those positions at S&P 500 companies. As of 2016 there were 5 Black men CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, and on March 1st 2017, Geisha Williams became the first Latina CEO on that list.  There are also no Black female CEOs occupying the top position in America’s largest companies.

Although studies from Glassdoor and Deloitte have shown that a majority of employees think their companies should be more diverse, and that over 80% of millennials are more engaged when they believe their company fosters inclusion, 41% of managers say they are too busy to implement diversity initiatives, according to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Given this discrepancy and the continued lack of diversity in leadership at our largest organizations, we still have much room for improvement before we begin to experience an increase in “truly” inclusive work cultures.

Why It Matters

As the country’s demographics change, companies will have to adapt to support diverse work cultures in the workplace. A failure to do so will result in losing out to the competition. Studies such as research from McKinsey, found that companies that are more gender and ethnically diverse are likely to financially outperform their industry medians by significant margins. These reports suggest that companies that do not have diverse workforces will underperform relative to their competitors. And as Bob Dylan best said it once “the first one now will later be last, cause the times they are a-changing.” Therefore the question for most companies now is not why, but how should we change our work culture to create a truly inclusive environment?

5 Steps To Building A Truly Inclusive Culture

After spending twelve years analyzing the employment practices of public, private and non-profit organizations, litigation and company performance trends indicated to me that companies are still struggling to create fair, non-discriminatory, diverse and inclusive work cultures. This is why at UYD Management, LLC we are dedicated to training, educating, consulting, and helping companies improve their bottom line by developing truly inclusive leaders and environments. In our experience, closing the gap between having diversity as a policy and as an inclusive practice can be achieved through the following steps.
  1. Fully commit.

Companies should commit to a deliberate and continuous effort to create internal systems that encourage different opinions to be shared, valued and respected. Implementing such systems that enable high-value interactions between employees across professional and personal differences will allow a more genuine cultivation of inclusion.



  1. Train and reward inclusive behavior.

Provide training to help employees identify and address the unconscious biases that may create opportunity barriers for some workers. Companies should provide resources to help guide and train individuals of all backgrounds for executive roles. By rewarding inclusive actions, and tying diversity goals and employee retention to management compensation, organizations will fuel the practice of diversity and inclusion to become a top priority for senior leadership.



  1. Facilitate constructive communication, and really listen.

Companies should provide platforms where employees can voice their opinions authentically. Understanding their employees’ unique backgrounds and experiences will allow companies to have more transparency on strengths and weaknesses and will help them identify areas where they should dedicate resources for improvement. Hosting small group discussions will create opportunities for each individual to contribute and be included in the conversation.



  1. Promote camaraderie: build teams.

When people experience the camaraderie of being in a team, they are invested in the team’s success. Companies can reward employee collaboration and cross-department wins, as well as encourage employees to participate in or lead team building activities. In large organizations, companies can focus on creating a small company feel by sponsoring more intimate-sized employee gatherings. Companies can offer opportunities for employees to partner across departments or tiers for group lunches, community services or social outings, and encourage employees to develop subgroups. Such groups would allow employees to interact based on commonalities such as the “other experiences” section of our resumes.



  1. Lead by example.

Employees look to senior leaders to demonstrate organizational culture and model behaviors. Building inclusive environments requires executive officers to buy into and lead the mission. When considering management roles, cultural competency skills should be considered. Global leaders should be inclusive and accessible. While some companies have many layers between top management and frontline employees, there should be systems in place that allow lower tiered employees to interact with senior leadership more consistently than at the annual holiday party.

Across industries, as companies prepare for the next generation of employees to enter the workforce, it will be crucial to support and encourage current and future employees to become transformational leaders within their organizations. By addressing today’s diversity gap head on, organizations will be better equipped to manage the diverse post-millennial employee generation of tomorrow.




Sandra Revueltas is a management and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategist and the co-founder of UYD Management, LLC.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Sources:

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-mattershttp://www.catalyst.org/media/companies-more-women-board-directors-experience-higher-financial-performance-according-latest

http://breakingthemold.openmic.org/

http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-ceos-sp-500

http://fortune.com/2017/03/14/50-most-powerful-latinas/

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

http://beta.fortune.com/best-companies/

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/index.htm

Diversity, Hiring & Retention Practices, Management & Leadership, Workforce Development,
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