Promoting an inclusive workplace has become a key point of emphasis for organizations across the world. As businesses cater to candidates from all walks of life, they must ensure that this talent feels welcomed, accepted, and—most importantly—valued within their company culture.
At Broadleaf, we have witnessed DEI initiatives becoming greater priorities within many of our workforce programs. As a certified WBE through WBENC, we understand the importance of fostering opportunities not only for women and minority-owned businesses, but for women and minority candidates as well. To that end, here are ways that your organization can cultivate more inclusive workplace practices for your workforce.
Form a DEI council
One of the easiest—yet most impactful—ways for organizations to incorporate inclusive values into their everyday actions is by forming a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee. By gathering DEI champions from different departments across your organization, you can ensure that multiple voices from diverse backgrounds are represented when formulating a proper DEI strategy. One rule of thumb: refrain from handpicking team members to participate in the council; rather, allow employees to voluntarily sign up to take part in the DEI committee. A well-designed council will feature people from all backgrounds, cultures, and ethnic groups that come together to share ideas while understanding the value of diversity.
Poll your employees
In addition to the formation of a DEI council, companies should seek input and feedback from their employees. Utilizing pulse surveys can help gather critical information on what workers think their organization should do to more effectively carry out diversity strategies. Whether your employees provide ideas on actions or events that can be implemented or advise on approaches that are not working well, this information can be instrumental to facilitating greater success with your inclusive workplace practices.
Celebrate holidays from different cultures
It is no longer appropriate to only celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. In addition to federal holidays, your company should also acknowledge celebrations from other cultures. Remember to observe important holidays or festivals like Hannukah (Jewish), Diwali (Hindu), Bodhi Day (Buddhist), Kwanzaa (African), Ramadan (Muslim), and the Chinese New Year. By recognizing these holy days or times of worship, you will help minority employees feel more like valued pieces of your “family”.
Create a mentorship system
Want to foster a greater sense of community among your employees? Pair your workers with people who look and act like them. Being intentional while formulating an employee mentorship system can help new hires get acclimated to their new work environment and feel included in their new culture. Having a mentor to help support and guide a new employee can be the difference between a worker leaving your organization after a few months and remaining with your company for the long haul.
Set up an anonymous tipline or email account
While some employees may feel comfortable voicing their opinions in a public forum, others would probably prefer to share their ideas anonymously. Instead of putting pressure on these workers to speak their minds in a meeting or in front of an audience, institute other nameless means of soliciting feedback. By establishing a tipline or an email account, you can receive perceptive insight from your employees in a more comfortable way.
Spend time in your community
Organizations across the United States have found success with volunteer time off (VTO) policies. Similar to a personal time off (PTO) policy, VTO enables employees to get paid while supporting causes and initiatives in the community that they are passionate about. You can even put together volunteer days where your organization pitches in to support a particular charity or non-profit. The more time you spend in your local community, the more you can learn about the cultures that surround you. In addition, this is a valuable team-building exercise that can strengthen the bonds of your team and bring you closer together.
Get executive stakeholders and influencers involved
The success of inclusive workplace practices relies heavily on executive involvement and sponsorship. Without buy-in from managers and leaders within your organization, the plan has much less chance of success. But if executive-level influencers support and promote a diversity program, it has greater odds of resonating with the rest of the company. Ensure that your organization clearly articulates the value of DEI initiatives to its upper management to enhance the overall effectiveness of the plan.
Gather input from DEI pessimists
When implementing a formalized DEI strategy within your organization, there will undoubtedly be naysayers who are skeptical of these efforts. Rather than scorning or overlooking these workers, be open to learning about their opinions. By getting a feel for their concerns, you can more effectively educate your organization from top to bottom, mitigate potential roadblocks, and enhance the overall success of your DEI programs. Ultimately, the more compelling stats and reliable reports you can present to demonstrate the importance of—and benefits to—diversity in the workplace, the greater the odds of gaining full buy-in for your various initiatives.
Slowly but surely, organizations are beginning to realize that the deployment of effective diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts can greatly enhance their employer brands. Not only can DEI initiatives be used as a talent attraction and retention tactic, but implementing these strategies is simply the moral and ethical thing to do. With willful and deliberate action, your organization can transform your work environment into one that is more inclusive, uplifting, and positive for all.
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