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How to build an inclusive company culture

It’s proven that companies with diverse people in their teams face sensible competitive advantages, but diversity in the workplace is nothing without a strong culture of inclusiveness that truly welcomes diverse employees.

43% of companies with diverse boards had higher profits (McKinsey), and inclusive companies are 1.7 times more innovative (Josh Bersin). Diverse talents improve companies by bringing their different points of view and life experience, amplifying company’s radar to different scopes and trends.

Besides the numbers, diverse people still struggle to be part of company’s boards and, when they finally get in, they are likely to face discrimination, lowering their chances to be listened to in the workplace and, many times, leading them to leave the company. 

Why is culture important for diversity?

It doesn’t matter how many diverse employees your company manages to get in the team, if the culture does not include them, they won’t feel valued or respected, won’t share their ideas and points of views and are highly likely to leave.

When culture does not support diversity, the company does not enjoy the benefits of having diverse people into the team. Keep in mind that 40% of employees leave a company after experiencing harassment, bullying or stereotyping (Kaporcenter). 

The lack of an inclusive culture keeps the “status-quo” moving on with no gaps for changing. That’s why it’s important to empower diverse employees by stating the company’s values and supporting diverse initiatives in the company’s routine

Making bold movements towards an inclusive culture will be noticed inside and outside the company’s walls, and makes the company more attractive for diverse talents to candidate for vacancies, especially when 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity. (Glassdoor).

Read also: The gender gap for women in technology

How to build inclusive culture?

Start from the top

45% of employees believe managers have the highest potential to boost diversity (Glassdoor). That’s why it’s crucial to have a board of leaders that support diversity in the company by promoting inclusiveness and stating their full commitment to create a pro-diversity environment

Considering diversity turns into sensitive numbers for a company’s profit and has a strong impact in innovation, it’s the leader’s job to create pro-diversity policies and have employees respecting and giving space to their diverse peers.

Recruit inclusively

As culture reflects the kind of people that work at a company, hiring for cultural fit may be a hindrance to building inclusive culture. The cultural fit criteria cuts off people that don’t fit into the company’s existing culture. But, if the culture only welcomes people that fit them, how is innovation and diversity supposed to happen? 

It’s important to review recruiting practices that may be stopping the company to reach important groups that have a lot to contribute. Also, when hiring someone, consider it’s willingness to adhere to a diversity-pro culture as a criteria for jumping in.

Provide safety for diverse employees

Considering working microaggressions in the workplace can be responsible for desmotivating diverse collaborators and stopping them to perform their job, aggressive or prejudiced behaviours should not be tolerated in the workplace. 

The company should provide a safe environment for diverse people to share their ideas, opinions and work comfortably, as well as having diverse colleagues included in socialization, bonding moments and celebrations.

Train your staff for inclusiveness

If you are trying to fix an anti-diversity culture, you want to train people to rethink their attitude towards diversity, because this is the staff diverse people will have to work with daily. 

To avoid a harsh shock among employees, it’s important to provide proper training on how to deal with diversity in a respectful and open way. This way you guarantee alignment on company’s policies towards diverse people and educate your staff on how to be inclusive. 

Read also: Future of Work: Remote and Hybrid Workforce in Design and Technology

Are companies doing all they can?

Creating an inclusive culture demands breaking the “status-quo” and supporting diverse initiatives that keep discrimination away. It’s about having inclusiveness as a fundamental principle of the company and taking hard actions whenever such principles are hurt.

Hiring the right people, either diverse or committed to reinforce inclusiveness, is essential to move forward with a strong culture that embraces diversity and gives it soil to grow. It’s an investment on keeping the company ethic, innovative and making a difference in the world.

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Ana Luiza Magalhães

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