Creating a diverse and inclusive (D&I) workplace has never been more imperative. Across all industries, consumers and employees alike are calling for companies to identify areas in which they can create a more supportive and conducive working environment. As individuals seek to align their loyalties with brands that reflect their core values, SMBs building an inclusive workforce have the opportunity to lead the way.
Not only can new policies and procedures be implemented quicker, but smaller businesses can also benefit from considering improved D&I when it comes to new hires and company culture. The result? Enhanced employee wellbeing, increased staff retention, and improved quality of work. We explore five ways SMBs can build an inclusive workforce today.
1. Update your policies
Do your business operations reflect your true company values? Many SMBs are choosing to add specific sections to their policies to ensure the evidence of inclusivity across all areas. From the use of inclusive terminology in legal documentation to creating diverse career paths across various company roles; SMBs can update their current policies and procedures to give everyone equal opportunities. This may include flexible working arrangements, additional training options, or appointing Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers across the organization.
SMBs should also consider making management accountable for overseeing policies that actively promote inclusion. Celebrating team accomplishments can bolster the message that inclusivity and equality are key to your business; regardless of a person’s age, gender or race. Finally, it’s also important to recognize your own biases, ask questions if you are unsure, and avoid using stereotypes. Some companies worry about doing or saying the wrong thing. But retaining humility and approaching your policies from a place of compassion will show your company’s true intentions.
2. Educate your team
Diversity and inclusivity cover a broad spectrum of considerations; from race, ethnicity, and gender identity to sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, age, and abilities. When companies state that people of all abilities are both welcome and supported, employees feel more empowered to be themselves; bringing their own unique insights to the business. By implementing strategies and tailored ways of working, SMBs can also educate the wider workforce on the importance of supporting each individual in their own way. This can also help to build trust and understanding between colleagues.
In addition, bringing people together from different walks of life is more likely to bring about different viewpoints and ultimately create more innovative and impactful work. A study from Harvard Business Review found the most diverse companies were also the most innovative, benefitting from both 19% higher innovation revenue, and 9% higher EBIT margins. Not only is being more diverse a moral must, but it’s good business sense too.
3. Lead by example
Employees look to their peers for guidance, so it’s key that senior teams lead by example when it comes to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce. In addition to being educated on company policies and upholding these values, SMBs should consider the diversity of board members, managers, and team leaders. It is also their responsibility to measure the progress of their D&I procedures. Communicating how these will be reviewed and keeping them front-of-mind will create reassurance within the workforce that this is not a token gesture.
SMBs might also choose to champion local causes that are fronted by, celebrate or support diverse communities. Regardless of whether these are directly related to their business, employees want to see companies act consistently and invest in causes that matter most to them. This is global thinking on a local level.
4. Celebrate people’s differences
It’s no surprize that when people feel valued, they produce their best work. It is therefore the responsibility of leaders to create a working environment where everyone feels safe and inspired to be themselves. This translates into company culture. The more people feel welcomed and part of their work family, the less time they’ll spend having to hide or explain themselves to others, which has a knock-on effect on their productivity.
Forbes recently explored the financial implications felt as a result of LGBTQ+ workers being in unaccommodating workplaces. 5.6% of all US adults identify as LGBTQ+. In theory, this could cost companies around $1,500 per person in misused company time each year; plus, have a detrimental impact on employee wellbeing. Diversity in the workplace is already high on the wish-list of potential employees, giving organizations that stand head and shoulders above their competitors for their D&I policies more choice when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers.
5. Listen to employee feedback
Often being closest to a company’s products and services, employee feedback is not only key to their own wellbeing, but overall business success. SMBs can provide opportunities for employees to present feedback in several ways. From anonymous feedback slips to hosting regular company meetings, policy reviews, and even employing an Inclusivity Council. The more ways in which people can share their ideas for improvement, the better the business will become.
But perhaps even more important than asking for feedback is what businesses decide to do with it. Implementing change and following up on specific points show employees that they are heard, seen, and valued; all of which go a long way to creating a thriving working environment. Above all things, humility is key. Rather than feeling the pressure to have all of the answers, workforces can also be receptive to exploring new opportunities when it comes to shaping career paths. After all, a company’s employees should of course reflect the customers they serve.
What changes will you implement across your business to build a more inclusive workforce?
Our friendly and experienced team can help you to align your culture to your strategy. Get in touch to learn how ADDA Infusion can help you create meaningful change and lasting business results in your company today.