5 Ways for Business Leaders to Prioritize InclusivenessRobin Lon 10 January 2022 at 3:00 pm RecruitingDaily


Diversity is in the spotlight, with consumers and talent both choosing brands with positive DEI ratings over those with a less inclusive workplace. Companies should do everything in their power to prioritize inclusiveness.

Close to one in four shoppers say they’d drop a brand because of how it treats employees, and 25% of workers say their ideal employer has values matching their own. 

But building inclusiveness is easier said than done. The pandemic, with its shift to remote working, hit corporate culture hard, resulting in a more fractured workforce that feels less cohesive and more disparate. 

Today, executives find themselves paddling hard to reverse the impact of over 18 months of distance and anxiety, and rebuild or strengthen an inclusive workplace. Here are five things that can advance inclusiveness at your organization.

Consider ‘Culture Add’ Over ‘Culture Fit’

It’s human nature to connect with people who seem “like us,” but that’s detrimental to an inclusive workplace culture.

Switching your mindset from one of “culture fit” to “culture add” means looking for the ways an employee or co-worker can broaden your horizons and open your eyes. 

Jeff Carr, CEO of e-learning platform Inkling, explains that ‘culture add’ is “a philosophy that consciously embraces individuals from different backgrounds, communities and demographics to foster a culture of inclusiveness. This leads to more innovative and creative teams.” 

Diverse teams, in turn, create a more inclusive culture and expand each employee’s sense of what’s “normal.” When you celebrate diversity and the benefits it brings, as opposed to just tolerating it, you’ll naturally build a greater sense of belonging within the organization. 

Apply Analytics

People analytics are still in their infancy but adoption is rising – and not a moment too soon. When you’re not the one in the minority, it’s all too easy to believe that everything is great in your company.

You need to gather the data and use analytics in order to see the true state of corporate culture. Only then can you take steps to improve matters.

People analytics can — and should — show metrics such as trends in pay gaps between genders and ethnicities; which employees leave the company and when and why; which levels of the company hold the most diverse employees. 

You should also correlate work-related requests with employee demographics. For example, if all your working mothers ask to be allowed to leave early, perhaps your work hours aren’t flexible enough. 

Hire for Soft Skills 

Recruiters often excuse their lack of diversity by claiming they couldn’t find any suitable candidates from under-represented cohorts. But instead of hiring according to a rigid set of criteria, HR personnel should look for candidates with soft skills and tech savviness. 

As reported by PWC for two consecutive years, the rapid pace of automation and digitalization is leaving organizations facing a skills gap.

Most plan to close it by upskilling employees, but the situation highlights the fact that soft skills and basic tech awareness are more important than a certain amount of time in a specific vertical or role. 

That’s why Ilit Raz, CEO of recruiting platform Joonko, recommends that companies reconsider their “silver medallist” candidates. “Hiring decisions are always complex and influenced by a variety of factors. At the end of it all, one person is given the role and one is not,” she writes.

“That silver medalist candidate still has the skills, experience and know-how, and was almost the perfect candidate. Maintaining relationships with these talented individuals provides companies with new opportunities to find and retain excellent employees.” 

HR teams can pivot these high-potential diverse candidates to other roles to leverage their multifaceted soft skills.

Amplify Employees From Underrepresented Groups

There’s an unfortunate but widespread tendency for cis white men to talk over women and minorities in meetings and ignore their suggestions, with the natural result being those employees either stop speaking up or leave the company. 

Make sure this isn’t happening in your organization by reviewing transcripts or recordings from video conferences. Also, check Slack and other internal forums to see if minority voices tend to be silenced, or are simply not present. 

If you see these trends appearing, take decisive action. But you also need to go further and actively ask women and people of color for their opinions at work. 

Mentor minority employees to help them gain the same advantages available to the majority and encourage them to apply for promotions, because it’s never enough to share jobs on the internal forum and claim that “anyone can apply.”

Create a Safe Workplace

Many minority employees still experience microaggressions that go unaddressed, or feel they can’t speak up about them.

Many employees only discovered how tense they were when remote work became the norm and they noticed that the source of stress was gone. 

“There’s another freedom that particular subsets of remote workers are experiencing: freedom from dealing with subtle, often unintended expressions of bias known as microaggressions,” says Washington Post workplace trauma expert Karla L. Miller.

“Individually, these incidents are seldom serious enough to merit HR confrontations. But experiencing them daily is like death by a thousand paper cuts, and processing internal reactions to them drains mental energy and satisfaction.”

To address this, make sure there’s a method for employees to share feedback and concerns, ideally anonymously. When someone raises an issue, take it seriously instead of dismissing it as a minor concern. 

There Shouldn’t be Excuses for a Lack of Inclusivity

Despite the many challenges that organizations face in reaching their DEI goals, the tools and tactics for doing so are already extant.

By inviting employees to share their concerns, actively helping them advance their careers, using people analytics and a “culture add” mindset and recognizing the varied potential of candidates with soft skills, enterprises can succeed in creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace for all employees.

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Diversity is in the spotlight, with consumers and talent both choosing brands with positive DEI ratings over those with a less inclusive workplace. Companies should do everything in their power… Read more
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