Pushing for workplace inclusivity in 2017

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Workplace inclusivity has long been at the forefront of discussions of both the present and future of work. More often than not, we hear about how not just companies, but entire industries, struggle to overcome a lack of diversity and cultivate an accepting, encouraging environment.

Forming a diverse team made up of individuals representing more than one group, whether it be national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or disability, is definitely a first step, but it should be taken further. A company must also embrace inclusivity, so that not only are representatives of these groups present, but intentions or policies to include them in company practices are actively applied. Twitter

Workplace inclusivity as an asset

Unconscious bias trainings at Google, Lloyds Bank, and Bank of America have revealed that employers — without realizing it — often tend to hire and promote employees that share their own backgrounds and experiences. This leads to homogeneous teams, or, when minority candidates have been hired, lopsided work environments with unbalanced growth. In fact, in these cases, minority employees feel incredible pressure to compensate and prove themselves beyond what is expected of their majority counterparts.

It is, after all, people that make up a team, and it should be a more human, accepting point of view that takes center stage.

Actively implementing workplace inclusivity can help shake up these mindsets and make way for positive changes — and there is much to be gained by it from a business point of view. When people of different backgrounds and experiences come together to find solutions, a wider variety of angles and approaches are presented that can help solve problems more efficiently and creatively. It should also be noted that positively engaging team members leads to greater employee satisfaction, motivation, loyalty, and retention, as well as attracts a more diverse group of clients. Twitter

Of course, in an age where employees strive to connect with their work in a meaningful way beyond the day-to-day duties, it’s important that companies openly embrace human values. It is, after all, people that make up a team, and it should be a more human, accepting point of view that takes center stage.

Approaching workplace inclusivity as strategy

In order to make inclusivity a part of the future of work, it must be approached like any other business strategy; a clear plan with specific end goals needs to be drafted and committed to. Twitter While it can seem a daunting task with many delicate factors to keep in mind, companies can start in a number of ways:

  1. Make Information Accessible and Goals Transparent: Strategies can begin when companies become aware of their demographics and set benchmarks toward workplace inclusivity. Sharing that information gives employees, as well as those outside the company, a clear idea of what its values are, and makes the company accountable in its strive for change. For example, adidas has made data on their team, like male to female and minority group ratios and what positions they hold, completely accessible on their website. They have also publicly stated their goals, like wanting to see the percentage of women in management positions rise from 28% to 32% across their global network in 2017. 
  2. Take the Lead: By taking a serious stance in introducing workplace inclusivity measures to the company culture, team and project managers display effective leadership and impress inclusivity’s importance on employees. Leaders should function as examples of these initiatives, and take the time to get the message across clearly by presenting well thought-out business cases that show its not just human, but business-centric benefits.
  3. Introduce Bias Training: Cisco has seen success with unconscious bias trainings by teaching employees how to be aware and overcome their biases during the hiring process. These very efforts have resulted in a spike in minority candidate hirings in the past year, of which 4% are  women, 13% are African American/Black, 14% are Hispanic/Latino, and 30% are American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or more than two races. 
  4. Source Work through Crowdstorms: Since crowdstorms work on a more global, internet scale, they can reach a diverse pool of people that can come up with many creative and out-of-the box solutions for company requests and problems. When looking at the makeup of jovoto’s own community, one can see that about 56% is female, and that they come from 153 different countries. Our case studies give a full spectrum of evidence on how diversity and inclusivity have benefited our partnering companies.
  5. Invest in Employee Growth Training: Training programs and orientations focused on employee growth, like the Deutsche Bank Women Global Leaders program, can help underserved groups break through glass ceilings. Deutsche Bank’s program is dedicated to helping women get on the right track to promotions, no matter where they’re starting from. Training revolves around leading change, negotiating, influencing, and networking, as well as giving helpful feedback. Since its launch in 2009, more than 50% of the participants are now in positions with new or greater responsibilities.

As the future of work becomes today and a younger, more empathetic workforce looking to connect to company values in a more meaningful way takes the stage, companies can work towards more diverse and inclusive spaces. For a deeper insight into the innovative concepts about the future of work and the initiative’s overall impact, download the free success story.

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Anna Piazza

Anna is a digital nomad living the future of work today, traveling and working through the US, Italy, and Germany as a corporate storyteller.