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How to Build an Inclusive Company Culture

08/05/2021

Inclusivity and diversity are increasingly the goals of many companies as they navigate the global marketplace. These efforts don’t just stem from humanitarian concerns but from the knowledge that inclusivity increases a business’s ability to innovate and grow. 

As the modern workplace continues to change and adapt to new challenges — such as the COVID-19 pandemic and large shifts to remote work — the importance of a culture of inclusivity should not be understated. But what exactly does an inclusive culture look like? And how can businesses achieve such a culture?

What Inclusivity Looks Like

Inclusivity in the workplace is sometimes easier to talk about than it is to achieve. True inclusivity requires that non-discrimination and employee supportive values are built into a company from its mission statement forward. Without inclusivity as a strict value across your company’s processes, it’s easy to neglect policies that can boost employee engagement and provide innovative solutions that can improve your company’s efficiency.

Inclusivity looks like a workplace committed to bringing in diverse talent and exploring out-of-the-box thinking. It can take the form of a collaborative, horizontal structure that invites in the talent and opinions of everyone on your team, or it can be demonstrated in hiring practices and work processes that accommodate users of all kinds of backgrounds and abilities.

While ethnic diversity is certainly an important aspect of an inclusive workplace, a culture of inclusion goes far beyond that. With employees representing different races, religions, origin countries, gender identities, and more your business can apply the experience and perspectives of a wider range of people to produce working real-world solutions.

Lenovo is one example of a company that has successfully created a culture of inclusivity and is reaping the rewards as a result. As the world’s largest PC vendor, Lenovo employs 57,000 employees in more than 60 countries. At the same time, it has achieved high scores in LGBTQ inclusion. Now, Lenovo has a market cap of $6.5 billion and has brought in $51.8 billion in sales. 

Diversity and inclusion allow companies like Lenovo to build a culture of innovation and continuous learning, as employees can springboard and expand off one another’s distinct outlooks to provide greater company agility.

You, too, can build an inclusive culture like this, but it takes preparation, planning, and consistent focus.

How to Build an Inclusive Culture

Building an inclusive culture has to start from the ground up. Without a spirit of inclusivity and diversity built into your company values, it’s all too easy to neglect the practices that make innovation possible. With a business plan modeled for inclusivity from the start, you are in a better position to explore creative and powerful improvements to your workflow.

Now, the global marketplace is opening up due to the increase in remote work options, cryptocurrency adoption, and changing trade practices. Take advantage of all this open talent pool has to offer by advancing your inclusion strategies throughout your company’s culture.

The following are a few strategies that can help you build inclusivity into the culture of your business:

  • Rework your business model with inclusion at the core. When restructuring your company culture to promote inclusivity, it helps to start with the basics. Going back to essential business documents such as your employee handbook and reworking your anti-discrimination and inclusivity standards can help you reassert the importance of these issues and everything you do. Lay down clear standards in everything from hiring practices to employee communication standards that are designed for inclusion.
  • Assess your leadership structure. Your inclusion and diversity standards will not be taken as seriously as they could be if your leadership structure does not reflect the employees and consumers you represent. In one study, racial biases were shown to increase when a white worker was placed in a supervisor role over a black worker, for example. Avoid these problematic situations with leadership that is dedicated to inclusion and mutual respect.
  • Modify practices and spaces to accommodate employees. The needs of your employees will be as diverse as the backgrounds they represent. Making these workers feel respected, valued, and truly part of the team requires demonstrable efforts in accommodating them. This entails building an ADA-compliant business with accessibility features like ramps and clear signage. Additionally, because of the modern workforce’s shift to virtual practices, you’ll need to promote inclusivity through strategic remote work planning. Foster a collaborative online environment complete with accessibility standards and brainstorming sessions that all workers can participate in.
  • Design benefits around diverse needs. Benefits in terms of on-the-job perks as well as holidays and paid time off should be adapted to meet the needs of all of your employees. For example, your business might be closed on Christmas, but floating holidays can allow workers that celebrate different religious ceremonies to comfortably take the time off they need. Additionally, consider workplace accommodations like a dedicated prayer space for Muslim workers or a nursing room where working mothers can step away for some privacy and comfort. 
  • Foster an environment of open dialogue and mutual respect. Finally, in all of your teamwork activities, it is essential to highlight the value of employee opinions. By structuring discussions that allow every worker to be heard and promoting positive and encouraging communication standards for every employee, you can better support an environment of free-flowing ideas that will allow you to innovate and grow as needed. 

By implementing these strategies in your everyday business practices, you can better cultivate a culture that respects the individuality of your colleagues. Increasingly, the data is reflecting the benefits of such inclusion. From outperforming competitors to showing customers that you’re dedicated to equitable work practices, a culture of inclusion is perhaps the only way to continuously grow your business successfully. 

The Importance of Diversity

When it comes to business, the sad reality is that many companies don’t represent their consumer base or reflect their demographic composition. For example, women influence 70% to 80% of all consumer spending and yet make up only 5.5% of Fortune 500 CEOs. At the same time, Black Americans are 13% of the US population and yet only fill 2% of the same roles.

Diversity within the workplace is vital in better understanding the needs of workers and consumers. The results are increased efficiency, productivity, employee satisfaction, ability to compete, adaptability, and the list goes on. Facing the uncertainty of a pandemic economy, inclusion in your company culture can be an essential aspect of your company’s survival.

Consider these strategies to begin building a more inclusive culture and your workplace.

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