"Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." Those are the words of American author and inclusion strategist Verna Myers.
As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to promote and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Not only is it the right thing to do, but will have a measurable impact on your business. Increased innovation, better employee engagement and talent retention are just a few examples.
However, it’s easier said than done. So let’s take a look at what diversity and inclusion means and how to implement it in your workplace.
What are diversity and inclusion?
If you want to foster a workplace culture that promotes innovation, improves employee engagement and ensures equal opportunity for all - then you need to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of your office.
However, it needs more than just lip service. That means you need to commit to identifying and addressing unconscious biases, promoting cultural competence and cultivating inclusive leadership practices.
Unconscious bias is one of the most important but hardest steps to creating a more inclusive workplace. If you’re prejudging people then you’re limiting your ability to see beyond your own experiences and beliefs, preventing you from recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives and contributions of others.
A great way to tackle this is to promote cultural diversity in the workplace. This provides opportunities for employees to learn about and appreciate different cultural traditions and values.
Inclusive leadership practices that focus on talent retention and equal opportunity for all can help ensure that diverse voices are heard and valued. By embracing diversity and inclusion, businesses can create a more dynamic, productive and welcoming workplace culture.
How can you foster diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion can do so much for your workplace. Promote innovation, drive employee engagement and retain top talent. It’s more than just hiring people with different backgrounds though. As a leader, you need to constantly look to promote equal opportunities and develop awareness.
Inclusive leadership is critical for creating an environment where employees feel valued, heard and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. This means actively seeking out and amplifying diverse voices, being open to feedback and committing to ongoing learning and growth.
Four things you can do to promote diversity and inclusion
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips to think about that can go a long way:
Create a diverse hiring process: Introduce steps to review everything from your job descriptions to interviews to ensure you’re eliminating unconscious bias as much as possible. Blind hiring techniques are a great way to do this in the early stages.
Provide training: Whether you feel comfortable delivering yourself or bringing in an external expert, educate employees on the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Implement equal opportunity policies: Develop practices that promote fairness for everyone in your business.
Foster a great workplace culture: Encourage open communication and celebrate diversity, for example, events like Easter or LGBTQ+ History Month, and encourage employees to learn more about others as well as feel valued and included.