Most leaders agree an inclusive workplace is important. But what being inclusive means and how it comes to life varies widely from one company to the next. For some, it involves hiring and retaining a diverse cross-section of employees. For others, it means hosting unconscious bias trainings or launching employee resource groups. Some companies even dedicate an entire leadership role to D&I. In fact, 60% of Fortune 500 companies have a Chief Diversity Officer or similar.
While these efforts are great starting points, an organization looking to truly emphasize inclusion should create a culture that embraces unique ideas, perspectives, experiences and people. Surveying people and hiring a diverse workforce is only part of the equation. The key to an inclusive work environment is making sure each employee feels included, and this is exactly where many companies lose momentum. You need true commitment from everyone, every day and throughout an organization, to create a culture that feels inclusive. Leaders also need to show they authentically value the people behind the ideas and experiences.
The truth is, being inclusive is easier said than done. It takes focus and action at every level, not just a mandate from the C-suite.
Why won’t a top-down approach work?
Inclusion revolves around the day-to-day interactions between employees, managers, leaders, teams and peers. In other words, genuine inclusive workplace practices rely on leadership support and grassroots energy.
To make a real impact and display ongoing commitment to your people and an inclusive work environment, it’s important to understand the dynamics at work in your organization.
Your commitment creates commitment. According to research by the Limeade Institute and Artemis Connection, employees who feel included are 43% more committed to their organizations.
The 8 components of an inclusive workplace
Inclusion is a concept. Your people bring it to life.
Before you can build inclusion in the workplace, you need to understand the basics — how people experience inclusion and the traits of an inclusive workplace. These eight building blocks are the foundation of inclusion at both the individual and company level:
1. Having a voice
When employees feel like they “have a voice,” they’re more likely to share their opinions with others.
An employee’s sense of connection to their company is built on belonging — the feeling that you’re a part of an environment that knows and values you.
3. Sense of uniqueness
Just like an employee needs belonging and connection, they also need to feel unique among their peers, that their company cares about their individual strengths and experiences.
4. Feeling valued
When an employee feels that their voice and unique self are appreciated, there’s a greater sense of value and satisfaction.
5. Learning and development
Employees who have access to learning and development opportunities know that their company cares — about their ideas, aspirations and growth.
6. Collaborative environment
Regardless of your role or department, a collaborative environment can help break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion.
7. Access to resources
Resources like support from managers or diversity and affinity groups help employees know their organization is committed to their well-being and growth.
8. Strategic alignment
Strategic alignment requires companies to explain why an inclusive workplace is important so that leaders, managers and employees can put strategy into action.
The results: What an inclusive work environment can do for your company
For people, inclusion means an amazing, fulfilling experience at work (and beyond). According to research by the Limeade Institute and Artemis, employees who feel included:
Are 28%more engaged at work
Have 19% greater well-being in their lives
Are 43% more committed to their company
Are 51%more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work
Typically intend to stay with their company 3 timeslonger
And for companies, inclusion can mean a lot. Inclusive workplaces: