When a business outlines its mission statement and company ethos, the words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusive’ will often figure prominently. A stated commitment to diversity and inclusivity is now not just desirable, but expected.
It is not just about doing the right thing (or being seen to do the right thing), a policy on positive company culture can offer significant benefits for the business. A business populated only by people from the same background and culture can be limited in its outlook, and as a result will miss vital opportunities.
In this blog, I’ll be putting inclusivity in business under the spotlight, illustrating just how important it is for business agility and success.
What is an inclusive culture?
According to Gallup, there are three requirements for inclusion and diversity in business. these are:
- Employees are treated with respect
- Employees are valued for their strengths
- Leaders behave with integrity and do what is right
In safe and open business cultures, where people are respected, treated fairly, valued, and empowered to grow, employees can offer ideas without fear. In an inclusive environment every idea is a good idea, even seemingly bad ones.
In this type of organisation, where trust is fostered and there is respect for everyone, innovation and the ability to adapt becomes a natural part of the business ebb and flow. Inclusive cultures make a business much more agile and able to innovate, as well as respond effectively to any potential crisis.
How are diversity and inclusion important for business?
Diversity in the workforce brings together different genders, religions, cultures, ethnicities, abilities and a rich set of skills. Inclusion values the contribution of everyone in the business and supports staff to do their best. Inclusive cultures value employee engagement and use the power of difference to innovate and make better decisions.
Alan Joyce, CEO of Australian airline Qantas, believes a focus on diversity was at the heart of a spectacular turn around for the business. In a Deloitte report, Joyce says:
“We have a very diverse environment and a very inclusive culture.” Those characteristics “got us through the tough times . . . diversity generated better strategy, better risk management, better debates, [and] better outcomes.”
It’s no accident that the most innovative companies are also the ones with the most diverse workforces.
With a more diverse workforce there is an increased problem-solving capacity. As part of an inclusive work culture, diversity enables a wide range of different thinkers to contribute ideas. This makes for a much more creative environment and it’s this level of creativity and insight that enables a business to respond quickly to change.
Why an inclusive organisation is more capable of adapting
In a strong inclusive business culture, managers and leaders are always looking to identify potential tensions in the workplace and address problems that have the potential to affect the happiness and productivity of employees.
Committed and conscientious employees who share the values of the business are much more likely to go the extra mile when there are challenges in the business landscape. An inclusive culture makes good business sense.
Battling with high employee turnover is a real drag to any organisation. It’s costly and waters down experience in the business. This has a huge impact on a company’s ability to adapt. Inclusive workplaces have far greater success retaining staff.
More than any other generation before them, millennials consider company policy on diversity and inclusion in the workplace as important during their search for their employer of choice. Business culture is playing an increasingly important role in attracting talent.
Retaining productive, committed and experienced staff is crucial to enable a business to come up with a wider range of solutions to business problems. Businesses with the best talent are the ones most likely to be able to adapt.
Inclusive businesses are already demonstrating their ability to adapt. The world’s workforce demographic is changing. The most successful businesses will be those organisations that change with it. Generational differences bring different perspectives, different skills and enhanced problem solving.
Why aren’t all businesses there yet?
Growing a strong and inclusive business culture isn’t easy. It requires constant attention, commitment and investment. Many businesses focus on operational efficiency, but without attention to the people driving efficiencies, the workforce can become demotivated and inflexible.
Valuing difference is challenging. There will be conflict. Only in cultures where psychological safety is valued, can entrenched thinking be explored and changed for the better. It starts with openness and trust.
Do you want to find out how inclusive your business is? Why not get started with an employee engagement survey, contact us today!