Inclusion Includes Everyone

Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Archimedes lever

Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.
- Archimedes

Many companies already understand and value diversity as a necessary part of their talent management strategy. In fact, many companies tout their diverse recruiting practices and workforce as a key competitive advantage and an innovation essential.

So why are so many companies still struggling to bring on and keep their diverse talent, or to see the benefits of diversity bearing fruit? Because bringing on diverse talent, talking about diversity in company meetings, including it on the company website and putting it on the walls of the executive suite isn’t enough.

To realize the advantages of diversity, you have to look beyond diversity.
The key to unlocking its potential and generating the truly new, inspiring possibilities for your company is inclusion.

Inclusion is the lever that catalyzes the opportunities that diverse backgrounds, experiences, approaches and viewpoints bring to the table. Here are the five cornerstones of an inclusive company and questions you can ask yourself to foster and enable inclusion at your company.

Cornerstones of Inclusive Companies
1. It all begins with Inclusive Leadership: Inclusive leaders are those who are committed to and intentionally create workplace environments where employees can thrive. They cultivate a culture where diversity (in all it’s many forms) is appreciated and valued, and where people are able to bring their authentic selves to work. As a result, they enable all employees to speak up, share their unique perspectives and ideas, and engage in constructive dialogue to determine how best to get the job done.

How do you see inclusive leadership being modeled at your organization? In meetings, hallways and formal communication?

2. Integration is another essential element. A company’s diversity strategy needs to be aligned with its overall strategy, and thus must take into account relevant systems, processes, goals and targets in order to be impactful and sustainable throughout the organization. Compartmentalizing diversity initiatives only serves to limit their potential. It’s the equivalent coming up with a great diet and exercise plan that you only follow on Tuesdays. You may see some results, but not much will change.

How well is your company’s diversity strategy woven into the business as a whole?

3. While leaders may have the final say on company decisions, decision making is a process. The more inclusive the decision making process, the more likely it is that the actions taken will produce the desired results. This does not mean that everyone has the final say, but rather that the decision makers get input from those with the knowledge and experience to improve the decisions they make. When this is not the case, companies are often left with clumsy or even unworkable solutions. This costs a lot of time and money and can lead to very frustrated employees.

How are employees across functions, locations, and levels sought out to provide input on important decisions? Are those who will be most affected by decisions invited to share their thoughts and concerns on how they and their customers will be affected?

4. Companies that succeed at retaining and attracting top talent understand the value of creating inclusive advancement practices, and following them. Employees are looking for a career path that is transparent, fair and attainable, and need to see that they have access to the training and development necessary to grow in the organization. Beyond knowing that these policies exist, employees have to see and experience them working in practice.

How well does your company practice inclusive advancement for all employees? Where have you seen it succeed? Has it ever failed?

5. Part and parcel of all of these cornerstones, and worthy of being mentioned on its own, is accountability. There must be a system in place to ensure that employees are aware of the diversity strategy along with relevant policies, processes and resources. What is more, they need to know that the system is being monitored and that rewards and consequences are in place to ensure that diversity best practices are being carried out.

Where do you see clear accountability for diversity initiatives, and where can it be strengthened?

Taking all of these cornerstones into account, where do you see inclusion being fostered and sustained? Where do you see gaps? How are you personally contributing to a more inclusive environment in your workplace?

While leaders have a unique charge to model inclusivity as part of their role, being inclusive is not the domain of leaders alone. Successful companies ensure that inclusion is the responsibility of each and every employee. That is because inclusion only becomes part of the fabric of an organization when employees across the board hold themselves and others accountable for it.

So whether you’re a senior leader or a front line employee, you have a role to play in creating an organization where everyone (including you) gets to fully express his or her perspective, background, style and skills. So how well is your company doing?

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