It is easy for businesses to tick a few boxes here and there when it comes to inclusivity, but does this really mean that the business in question is inclusive?
For the majority of the time, the same leaders and managers tend to dominate the conversation in decision-making topics, resulting in those lower down the chain feeling left out.
Being inclusive in business: a common trend?
In recent years, companies have made huge strides to ensure they foster an inclusive work environment. These include the use of technology to shape their forms of communication. Conference calls and online surveys are making it easier for views to be heard, and for people who previously worked in the background to stand out.
Businesses have also been improving their workplace environments, to help staff to communicate authentically; and are choosing to enhance the wellbeing of employees to help them become more confident at work. Simple changes in the work environment, such as checking ventilation systems, in the office, are known to make a big difference.
We are now living in conflicted times, and leaders and businesses need to make it a priority that those who work with and for them feel included. But why is it important?
Here are FIVE reasons why businesses can no longer afford not to be inclusive.
1. Missing out on creative ideas
One of the key reasons why businesses can’t afford not to be inclusive is missing out. Every business has individuals who will have thoughts and opinions on their workplace. Each of them will also have ideas that they feel can work in a positive way. It won’t be possible to know about these thoughts unless members of staff are able to voice their views. As a result, you may also miss out on talent pools that can benefit the overall business.
2. Attracting and retaining staff
Employees today place great emphasis on making sure they’re valued by their employers, and what they contribute when it comes to inclusivity in business. If employees feel valued in their company, they’re more likely to stay and be loyal to the business. Which will be crucial in terms of keeping recruitment costs low and developing staff internally.
A recent survey found that many companies are hiring with ethnic and racial diversity at the forefront of their mind. However, the study also found that there are some obstacles when it comes to navigating diverse recruitment. Improvements must be made to how some businesses attract and recruit for minority applicants if they want diversity of thought, which in turn leads to higher profitability and an enhanced reputation.
3. It can improve business functionality
Taking on board ideas from employees will essentially help the business to capture valuable insight and trends that can be applied to the overall company. In doing this, it can help to drive business in the future and create a trend-setter environment within the sector you’re in. The ideas are also likely to relate to internal processes, making them easier for employees to get the best out of their work and tools. This can help to improve overall business functionality.
4. Encourages staff to contribute even more ideas
Encouraging staff to come up with more ideas in the workplace will eventually provide them with the confidence to make even more suggestions. A business should value every single one of their staff members and how they feel. If a staff member knows that their points are being listened to, they’ll be more likely to speak up and express their opinion.
5. Supports a distributed workforce
Inclusivity in business can also help with supporting workforces that may be distributed in the company. For example, remote workers may feel out-in-the-cold when it comes to voicing their opinion as they lack the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with managers and colleagues. Technological advancements can provide an inclusive solution, as it’s accessible any time.
Why having an inclusive business matters
Ultimately, one of the key elements when it comes to building and maintaining an inclusive workplace is to involve a sense of commitment so that everyone’s voice is listened to and, more importantly, heard – regardless of their level of experience, role, seniority and background.
Far too often in workplaces, coworkers and managers agree with something, yet do nothing to support it, and too little has been done to change this way of working. We’ve all worked somewhere where we didn’t feel wholly welcome. Maybe because of harsh management or demanding leaders, but these jobs are just not worth keeping for employees who often leave feeling demotivated and undervalued.
Thankfully though, this is changing. Businesses are increasingly becoming more understanding of the need to be inclusive and the benefits it can bring. They are more frequently increasing the processes and technology which they need to make this happen. It isn’t just about building diversity but building a workplace culture of both respect and appreciation.
>See also: How inclusivity will grow your business