Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Recent Black Lives Matter movements have highlighted the deep-rooted racial inequalities in our system and the need for diversity and inclusion training amongst other approaches. Calls to action such as the #blackpoundday movement, inviting consumers to shop with black-owned businesses, have created new expectations for diversity and inclusion to become a business priority. Leaders and HR professionals need to understand what impact racism, discrimination and harassment has on their employees, on their engagement and retention rates and on their bottomline. Recently, a black friend of mine, who has an excellent track-record as a sales professional in the software industry, told me that he started receiving many calls for job interviews once he removed his profile picture from his linkedin profile; he had been applying to jobs for a month without much success and when his friend suggested he removes his picture from his linkedin profile, he saw an immediate surge in calls back for job interviews. This type of discrimination as well as other micro aggression or micro behaviour affect people of colour and minorities in long-lasting ways. Leaders and HR professionals must examine how to create a workplace environment fostering inclusion and diversity to create an engaged and cohesive team. HR Professionals and top management must start by discussing what diversity and inclusion means to them before discussing equality and diversity training and other options. If you don't know where to start to begin this process, a professional diversity consultant and inclusion expert can guide you. Below is a practical list of actions HR professionals and leaders can take to boost inclusion in the next normal:
1. Develop Continuing Diversity and Inclusion Training
Many organisations lean on mandatory unconscious bias training to help with diversity and inclusion. However, a one-off mandatory training can have limited ability to change behaviour. In fact, mandatory training can even be met with resistance, as people do not like to feel pressured. However, offering training as voluntary and offering recurring, repeating training can have a greater impact on changing behaviour because employees feel they are in control. In addition, voluntary training programmes demonstrate a signal of commitment to inclusion. Many diversity trainings are delivered online which makes them accessible to remote-workers, like our bespoke diversity training.
2. Review your Hiring Practices
Make inclusion and diversity part of your hiring culture. Companies still hire based on “culture fit” which means “people like us.” Instead, build a culture that’s looking for “culture add” which means “people adding a new prospective” so that diversity and inclusion become part of your future success. Prioritise the most important skills you are looking for before you interview. Don’t use a long list of requirements that puts off certain candidates from underrepresented groups, but limit your list of requirements. This helps you fairly and effectively attract candidates with diverse experiences and backgrounds.
3. Create a Safe Space for Minorities
With unhappy workers being 10% less productive, according to a report by Growth Everywhere, providing your employees a safe space is important to the success of your business. Build trust by focusing on communication. Create Slack channels and Employee Resource Groups (ERG) for minorities. Get comfortable with uncomfortable discussions: now is a good time to discuss some uncomfortable issues minorities face on a day-to-day basis and encourage them to discuss these concerns openly, and without fear of retribution. Promote dialogue about differences such as gender, ethnic background, race, age, disabilities and sexual orientation and promote curiosity so that employees know they are valued, and that you expect them to value others no matter how divergent their views. Adopting tools establishing a trusted line of communication with employees, such as Vault Platform, allows employees to use direct messaging features to raise concerns or questions, anonymously or in-name.
4. Hold your Leaders Accountable on Inclusion
Understand how to measure and track success with an inclusion assessment for your workforce. You can measure how many of your employees feel included in regards to certain characteristics, then see how those statistics compare to the national average to identify problem spots. Tie inclusion goals into other business goals such as employee retention and employee productivity. Make accountability personal by adding it as a goal measured during performance reviews for your leadership team.
5. Revisit you Company's Mission to Unite People of all Backgrounds
Mission-driven employees are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company. High-performance organisations are linked to being mission-driven companies. Ask this question: “How have you seen the company mission in action lately?” Engage your employees of all backgrounds in this conversation. Conduct a customer survey asking a series of questions about what they think your company mission is.
6. Encourage Management to Lead with Empathy
Teach your leaders to watch for signs of overwork in others. Leaders who are educated about empathy are able to recognise signs of overwork in employees before burnout becomes an issue that results in disengagement or turnover. Educate leaders on showing genuine interest in the needs and hopes of their team. Employees who see their manager recognising them in this way are more engaged and willing to go the extra mile. Teach your leaders to demonstrate willingness to help employees with personal problems. Empathetic leaders recognise that it’s part of their role to lead and support those team members when they need it most.
7. Make Diversity and Inclusion a Business Priority
Prioritise a metric that tracks inclusion progress over time. Research shows that 85% of diversity and inclusion leaders cited “organisational inclusion” as the most important talent outcome of their efforts, yet only 57% of organisations currently use that metric to track diversity and inclusion progress. By making diversity and inclusion a business priority that is measured with the organisational inclusion metric, you can make real changes in your organisation. Embed diversity and inclusion into your existing talent and business processes. Research shows that 67% of diversity and inclusion leaders believe that leveraging processes is more effective than using people to champion diversity and inclusion at achieving diversity & inclusion goals.
Today more than ever, companies are expected to have strong diversity and inclusion programs in place, to share them with the public and to take concrete actions on inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace. Organisations that fail to invest in diversity and inclusion and that fail to constantly challenge themselves on their inclusion practices fall behind their competition, have worse employee retention and engagement and worse customer reviews. If you need help with your diversity and inclusion journey or if you are interested in a diversity and inclusion training, book your 60 minute diversity and inclusion consultancy today: https://www.inspired-human.com/free-diversity-consultancy. Alternatively, watch our on-demand webinar : “5 ways HR can boost workplace inclusivity and equality” to learn more tips on that topic.