Strategies that create a culture of inclusion in the workplace

Back in 2011, the Government began its efforts to formalise increased work diversity

In recent years FTSE company female directors have risen from 17.3% to 27.7% with the aim of tripling the number by 2020.

In ethnic diversity, however, only six FTSE companies had someone of colour under the CEO, while half of the companies had no ethnic minorities in director positions. The ambitious objective is to have every board represented by at least one director from an ethnic minority by 2021.

Under the leadership of your HR team, your organisation must recruit a diverse workforce that represents a range of religions and world views, ethnicities, sexual orientation and ages. Start by embracing the differences diversity brings by recognising and acknowledging ideas wherever they may originate. The following steps act as a guide in the direction of workplace inclusion.

Empathetic leadership

Leaders need to recognise the value of belonging and not see it as an initiative owned exclusively by HR. A study by the Businessolver, conducted in 2018, found a significant disconnect between how CEOs view their organisations and, in turn, how employees view them. It indicates that 92% of CEOs find organisations empathetic, while only 50% of employees find CEOs empathetic. A further 96% of employees consider empathy from their CEO important. Key inclusive leadership behaviours include:

– The humility to admit and learn from mistakes and seeking contributions from the team
– Showing confidence in the team by holding them accountable for aspects of tasks that are within their control
– Empowering the team by encouraging them to develop new skills, come up with new ideas and solve problems

It is a process, not a program

Don’t check inclusion off your list after a one-time event such as a lunch-hour session or afternoon training. It must be intentional and aligned with recruitment, hiring and retention of employees. It should not be a program or focus on policy but should focus upon the human side of adopting inclusion. Exclusion could persist within a company that focuses solely on formal efforts but displays a disconnect with informal inclusion culture. For example, the company could have excellent leadership inclusion and development programs that excite staff, but the same employees might dread meetings as their ideas are constantly dismissed.

Foster a sense of belonging

A diverse group of employees needs to feel connected while retaining their individuality and excelling in their own fields of expertise. A good place to start is with the millennials who are currently 35% of the workforce in the UK. They are set to represent 50% of the global workforce by 2020. This group bring a different bargaining power and companies need to use that power in their favour. They need to be offered the best perks and selling points to make them stay, once you have them.

Each employee needs to feel valued and to see and understand their role and potential in the business. A culture of inclusion can be fostered by giving employees the freedom to be themselves which will result in greater creativity and engagement in the workplace.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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