Globally, corporate organizations are recognising the business benefits of having a diverse workforce. Because of which, interventions and policies that support and celebrate diversity are on the rise. Participation in Pride events, observing international days dedicated to certain diverse groups, instituting non-discrimination policies and hiring targets for diverse talents are some of the ways in which organisations begin their diversity and inclusion journey.
While well-intentioned, these activities are only the starting point. And for effective inclusion to take place, more focussed and intentional efforts are required, those that appeal both to the mind and the heart; employees have to not only ‘see’ but also feel and experience inclusion in their daily lives.
In this article, we will explore the key concepts and ideas on how to accomplish the intended results, when it comes to inclusion.
Inclusion can be understood as an environment where employees have equal access to opportunities and information networks, where they feel free to express their authenticity as well as have a strong sense of belonging. Interventions should be designed to appeal to both: the cognitive aspect (the seeing) as well as the emotional (feeling and experiencing).
As shown in the image below, the stage of integration- creating opportunities and increasing workforce participation is an important step but does not naturally translate to inclusion. Often, organisations begin and stop at this stage, which makes the interventions short-term in their impact and reach. Catalyst report, the day to day experiences of workplace inclusion and exclusion, also highlights that employees feel included when they experience both a sense of uniqueness and a sense of belonging.
To achieve this, barriers have to be removed to not only increase workforce representation but also create engaged employees.
Here are some ways:
In conclusion, inclusion requires a clear and focussed intent to transform the workplace and has to go beyond policies. Interventions should be designed to create the right environment for its employees, one where they feel free to exercise their authenticity while feeling deeply connected to the organisation. This will in turn lead to higher engagement, leading to higher productivity, which will ultimately positively impact business.
This article first appeared on People Matters.