In light of June being Pride month, it’s a good time to discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Specifically, in this article, we’ll be discussing how to do a check-in on your diversity and inclusion, as well as your workplace culture to ensure that it’s welcoming and that things like diversity and differences are celebrated, not looked down upon.
The Basics: Diversity vs. Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are NOT the same things. Furthermore, diversity refers to more than just race, gender, sex, etc. Today, diversity is a term used to embrace people from all walks of life, all educational and training backgrounds, all demographics, and so forth. Diverse hiring means hiring the best person for the role based on the skill alone and then celebrating the differences that come with each new team member.
It means the word “inclusion” is more about creating a culture and workplace that includes everyone and encourages all employees to get engaged. It’s a culture where people are welcomed to pitch in and feel like a part of the team and where no one is left sitting on the sidelines for one reason or another.
Together, these two terms are shifting the way employers handle company culture, as well as their own hiring and onboarding processes, to make sure that the entire process is fair and designed to help elicit the best candidate for the role, regardless of anything else.
Poor Culture Equals Poor Performance
It’s been shown repeatedly that companies with authenticity as a core value will see top performers and better retention. If people feel like they don’t fit in a culture or worse, that the organization’s so-called “culture” is a useless front that no one follows, they aren’t going to perform well. Not only that, but they probably won’t stick around for long, either. According to Kelli Mason, COO of JobSage:
“Employees who feel psychologically safe (as in, more comfortable being themselves at work) are more likely to put in extra effort to see the team or company’s mission achieved … They are also more likely to feel safe enough to push back and ask hard questions, which are ultimately in the company’s best interest, even if they initially create uncomfortable or difficult conversations and decisions.”
So, you can see that if people do not feel safe and comfortable in their work environment, they will lack the initiative to push back, push limits, and go the extra mile for the organization. They will probably come to work, do their job, and leave. And that’s if performance doesn’t falter at all as a result of feeling excluded or undervalued in their existence as a human being, not just an employee.
Don’t Just Hire for the “Diversity Hire”
Although this is something most people managers understand, it can be tempting, at times, to consider candidates because of the diversity that they’ll bring to the organization. However, candidates should also possess all of the necessary skills, training, and education required for the position. Otherwise, you’ll end up micromanaging them or worse, replacing them just as quickly as they were brought on board.
No one likes to talk about this because it’s one of those black-hat tactics that companies try to just look away from, but it needs to be discussed. Hiring someone based on their diversity in comparison to the rest of the organization without consideration for their skills and abilities will always backfire eventually and it just isn’t a good professional move. Make sure that you’re hiring the top candidates and putting diversity at the forefront of your search, but not looking for it exclusively.
No matter how much some people dislike the idea, there are some instances where a Caucasian man from an upper-middle-class background with a college degree will be the ideal candidate for the job. It’s not always the case, but the point is to hire the person, not their characteristics or for the sake of workplace politics.
Support Individuality and Authenticity
It’s been proven that when employees feel like they’re part of a welcoming organization with a solid company culture, that authenticity helps them deliver better performance in their own roles. It also encourages them to be an individual and embrace that individuality on the job in every way possible. Employees need to feel valued and special. They need to be a human that is part of your organization, not just another worker bee that is counted by their employee number.
Do things that promote authenticity and engagement. Give people responsibilities and expectations to uphold. Show them that the reason you’ve hired them is that they are the right person for the job, no matter what type of person they might be. Not only will this make employees feel more like they belong, but it will reduce diversity conflicts and other issues that come up in organizations without an accepting stance and open mind.
Be an Ally All Year
Pride month is a great time for employers to spotlight their support for the LGBTQ community. However, it shouldn’t stop here. Companies need to keep an open mind and create a welcoming environment where anyone can feel safe, no matter what their circumstances or personal details might be. It goes well beyond June and is actually going to become a critical part of the foundation of organizational principles for success. In addition to going the extra mile for pride, you should start going the extra mile just to be a reputable ally for the community.
Diversity includes everything from experience and background to training, education, and even demographic details. Which aspects matter most to your organization will depend on your specific needs, but there are several ways to start now and get a leg up on diversity and inclusion so that your organization doesn’t see performance fall or experience a cultural rift because of the lack of communication regarding the value of these two principles in the workplace.