If you’re keeping up with current events, you know the importance of diversity and inclusion. This is likely because younger people tend to be more aware of these issues and more concerned with correcting them. But embracing diversity and inclusion is also the right thing to do, ethically.
There are many studies done on the gender pay gap. There are many more about how racism is rampant in the employment scene. Women are consistently paid less than men, and people who have names that sound more “ethnic” are much less likely to get a job offer than someone with a “white” sounding name.
In today’s world, it’s not enough that you as a business owner or manager are just aware of biases and privilege. This sort of prejudice is built into our world, especially in our workplaces. In order to challenge it, you have to reach out as well as look in. That’s hard, but worth it in the end.
If you’re looking for ways to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace, read on to find out how.
Create an Accessible Environment
If you want a more inclusive and accepting workplace, the best way to start is by getting people into the building. You can do that in two ways.
First, you need to pay attention to where you advertise. The placement of your job advertisements seriously impacts who applies for your job. Make sure you’re advertising in a variety of places so you can consider all of the best candidates for the position you want to fill.
Your workplace also has to be accessible and easily navigable for people with disabilities. A wheelchair ramp is a good start, but ensuring desks are placed far enough apart is also important. A wheelchair accessible bathroom would be another investment to consider.
However you choose to focus your efforts, you need to pay attention to the onboarding process as well. The average cost per hire in the United States is over $4,000, so you’ll want to make sure you’re hiring the best and setting your employees up for success.
If your hiring process creates an obstacle for people with different backgrounds, you’re missing out on someone who could be a top performer.
Many diversity programs focus their energy on making sure that new hires don’t feel as though they are being discriminated against because of their background or appearance. But very few actually focus on the harder task: challenging the assumptions of your current employees.
Training is one way to do this. You probably already use training to educate people on workplace safety and sales targets, so adding a training session about workplace prejudice shouldn’t be too hard.
Show your employees how to handle certain circumstances. For example, do they know how to react when one person makes another feel discriminated against? A training session can teach people how to step in and stop behavior that they know is wrong, but don’t know how to address.
The ultimate way to make sure racism and prejudice festers and grows is to ignore it. When you ignore an issue, you let someone’s intolerance for a group go unchecked. This sends a message that it’s fine to hold these views, which is obviously bad.
But what’s worse is the message sent that the people affected by intolerance don’t matter.
You obviously can’t be expected to monitor everyone’s individual thoughts and actions. But if you’re only checking in with your employees during your yearly performance checks, there are a year’s worth of opportunities that you will have no idea what is going on in your workplace.
This is why annual appraisals don’t work. There is a lot of pressure that comes with a conversation that only comes around one time a year. That makes it almost impossible to have a meaningful, effective discussion about anything at all. Thining that you would be able to find time to talk about workplace inequality is absurd.
If you really want to keep tabs on your employees in a way that is both practical and professional, think of a continuous performance management system. You can learn more about plan managers on this website.
When you tune your performance checks into something regular, you can focus on next steps rather than annual ratings. It allows you to turn the conversation around into something actionable. In turn, it lets your employees make the workplace more inclusive.
Be Open Minded
When you give your employees the chance to hear from people who are actually affected by discrimination, it has the power to change things in a big way.
You need to recognize your own privileges, no matter where they come from. This is hard! Life’s not easy for anyone and you fought hard for your job, so when you hear someone say you’re privileged it can feel like someone saying you didn’t deserve it.
But when you listen to stories from people who belong to minority groups, you can understand the challenges they face that are unique to them. Then you can understand privilege properly.
When you’re more aware of the workplace discrimination someone else might face, it helps you actively create a place where people who are discriminated against feel more comfortable.
Inserting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
If you’re planning on starting down the path of equal, diverse, and inclusive workplaces, be prepared. It’s not easy. It’s often a road lined with tough talks and attitudes that are going to seem impossible to change.
But you’ll notice the benefits to ensuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace immediately. And when you realize that you need to create a welcoming environment, you’ve already taken the first necessary step.
For more information on how to improve your business, explore our blog!