5 Ways Managers Can Foster Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, so does its workforce. It’s been proven that diversity and inclusion within the workplace impacts brands, corporate purpose and performance. According to a 2015 study by McKinsey & Company, ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their undiversified counterpart, while gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform. Companies with higher levels of gender, racial and ethnic diversity tend to not only be more profitable, but are also more innovative and competitive.

Yet, even Fortune 500 companies are falling short of creating diverse and inclusive work environments. Of the 500 companies, 5.4 percent of CEO roles are filled by women (27 CEOs). There have only been 14 black male CEOs in the entire history of the Fortune 500 – only four of which still held their position as of 2016.

Why do most diversity and inclusion initiatives fall flat? Hunt Scanlon has identified 5 key principles that are integral to creating an inclusive and diverse organization:

  1. Treat the evolution of diversity and inclusion as business-critical, not compliance-necessary.Diversity and inclusion should stem far deeper within your organization than just your HR department or hiring manager. By and large, diversity and inclusion initiatives focus only on recruitment, reputation management and “checking off the boxes.” While diversity and inclusion are very important within the hiring process, it should also take priority in other aspects of your business and be integrated into your company culture.
  2. Move beyond diversity to inclusion AND diversity.While “diversity” and “inclusion” are often used interchangeably in the workplace, they are quite different. Diversity refers to the long list of characteristics attributed to a person, including but not limited to the representation of different races, national origins, ethnicities, genders, abilities, sexual preferences, ages, backgrounds, interest, levels of education, socioeconomic status, etc.Inclusion refers to how individuals working in diverse environments feel they are treated by their co-workers and managers, including whether they feel respected and are offered equal opportunities within the organization to grow and move up the ladder. While it is important to focus on diversity, inclusion should be of equal if not greater importance. A diverse workforce comes with its challenges, and creating an inclusion strategy is important to avoid conflict.


  3. Prioritize inclusive leadership.

    Inclusive executives and managers engage much more effectively with a wide range of culturally, demographically, and attitudinally diverse stakeholders. These leaders are open to a broader spectrum of ideas and perspectives, which can improve their decision-making and their ability to innovate, handle uncertainty, and anticipate the future. Leaders who demonstrate behaviors such as courage, curiosity and cultural intelligence tend to enable cultures that encourage inclusiveness.
  4. Reinforce an inclusive culture by integrating both demographic diversity and diversity of thought.As identified above, diversity can be measured across many variables. It is important to remember that diversity and inclusion are not simply about race, ethnicity and gender, but also differences in background, experiences and thought. By integrating both demographic diversity and diversity of thought, your organization will form a mosaic of differences that fuels ideas and new strategies for growth and innovation.
  5. Provide diversity and inclusion resources that empower individuals to take action.Inclusive organizations offer resources and programming that enable individuals to bring their authentic selves to work, manage unconscious bias effectively and leverage the support of mentors and sponsors to help them navigate their organizations. These resources should not only be offered to the diverse population of your workforce but should be available to all employees.

To create a diverse and inclusive workplace, embed these values within your business’s culture and growth strategy. It is important to consistently stress diversity and inclusion’s impact within your organization, and build an awareness of prejudice so all employees are reminded of the importance of managing bias. Most importantly, leaders should be held accountable for improvement on diversity and inclusion metrics (which should go beyond just representation), similar to how they are held accountable for other business metrics.

For more information on how to improve diversity and inclusion within your organization, contact your EFR account manager today!