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Building an Inclusive Company Culture

Michelle JosephMichelle Joseph

 

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Company culture is something that organizations are starting to put more and more emphasis on. Leaders want to ensure that they are building an enjoyable culture for everyone, not just for the majority of their team members. The culture of a company is a true reflection of the passion and commitment the leader and every individual team member possesses. Culture is an honest portrayal of the core company values. Culture cannot be forced or faked. Culture is driven from the top down and starts to shape itself. When a leader strongly believes in ensuring the business possesses certain qualities, committing time towards these attributes will evolve the overall business and the culture around the business. A culture can drive a company forward, and creating a culture that promotes inclusiveness can evolve the business for continued success.

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An inclusive culture demonstrates the complete and successful unification of diverse people into a workplace, and an inclusive culture positively accepts and embraces diversity brought to the organization through individual team members. Establishing an inclusive environment and truly exemplifying workplace diversity is becoming more of a thought out process. As the advancements in technology keep forming seamless methods of communication amongst individuals and companies around the world, every business market suddenly becomes much broader and diverse. And when businesses evolve and differentiate to match more of the market, they are able to capture much more business in the market. In order to capture the majority of the market, your company needs to be able to relate to and resemble the diverse market.

Diversity is not just based off of a persons’ gender and race. It is a lot more than that. Diversity can come through the different perspectives that people have and the backgrounds that people come from. Whenever a new employee is hired who has a different upbringing than what most of the rest of the team has come from, it will give your organization more of a worldly perspective. But building a well-rounded team will not bring change if leadership is closeminded. So, if a company is made up of distinct individuals but the company environment and leadership does not promote or listen to the ideas and strategic problem solving that members of the team have to offer, then the organization is diverse but not inclusive.

For maximum impact on a company’s success, diversity and inclusion must be embedded into all areas of the business to transform these ideals into core business principles. The leadership team should be made up of diverse individuals. This diversity at the top will spark more diversity throughout the rest of the team. If the leadership team demonstrates this to the rest of the team, the employees will continue to build out this inclusive culture.

How do you build an inclusive culture? Building a diverse and inclusive business is much easier said than done. And creating an inclusive culture is not something that you can start and then forget about. To be truly inclusive, the organization must be committed to continuously developing and promoting this as a core value that is instilled and represented throughout every aspect of the team, business engagements and offerings.

Establish & display the company’s vision, mission and values. Or if you have already created these for your company, take some time to reevaluate them and make sure they still hold true. Display these statements on the walls around the office. These statements should keep every team member aligned on what the company stands for. And every person is responsible for upholding these values. Make sure your values promote inclusivity, as it should be a core value if you truly believe and want the best for your business and your employees. These statements are well known across the business. They take time and thoughtfulness to create. So, the values chosen will be seen as an integral part of the business. Creating a value around inclusiveness will show how serious and committed the business is to continually driving equality as well as innovation.

Inclusive recruitment efforts. Once you define the mission, vision and values of your business, these statements will help your team make better business decisions that align with the true overarching purpose of the organization. And they will also help make sure the rest of the team is committed to living out these values while representing the organization. This goes for current employees as well as future employees.

You need to attract, engage and retain the right people to bring diversity to the business. When trying to put a greater emphasis on seeking a wide range of backgrounds, your recruitment efforts should highlight this. Broaden your recruitment efforts, and make sure you are proactively reaching out to potential candidates. Proactive outreach to potential candidates can help increase engagement from new audiences. Expand your reach and post your job descriptions on new channels, instead of sticking to the most common recruitment platforms. Joining clubs or attending community events that promote diversity in business are great ways to build relationships and meet potential candidates, while at the same time showcasing and representing the overall organization as a viable place to work. Make sure your recruitment efforts deliberately focus on increasing diversity to help contribute to the overall inclusive work culture of the business.

Recognize & get rid of subconscious bias. Subconscious bias in the workplace is a major contributor to the lack of diversity seen in some workforces. This does not mean people are being trained to act negatively towards any implications of diversity. However, when the majority of the people on your team have the same general viewpoints, this starts to prevent inclusion and begins to narrow the organization’s thinking. And it makes it easier to start making excuses that prevent diversity from the team. It becomes easier to say that a potential candidate would not fit in as well with the team when that candidate is the only one bringing a diverse perspective to the organization. So, although the majority of the time these biases in the workplace are subconscious, it is important to be aware of them and prevent them from having a detrimental impact on the growth and innovation the organization plans to achieve.

From a business standpoint, diversity is all about building a dynamic team of individuals with different perspectives and backgrounds and incorporating these unique offerings into the company’s strategic problem solving and decision making. An inclusive culture allows these ideas and perspectives to not only be heard but also have a meaningful impact on the business. Businesses’ that put an emphasis on inclusivity within their workplace have proven to have more innovation and evolution. I also attribute higher employee happiness and retention to inclusive work environments.

Creating an inclusive culture is much more than just a business goal. It is a moral imperative. Organizations should take initiatives to provide equal opportunities to people from all backgrounds. This takes purposeful leaders who will take initiative and be on the front of change and inspire others.

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