According to Indeed’s Inclusion & Diversity report:
“89% of Canadians in tech think a diverse workforce positively impacts business performance”
However, even so:
“32% of Canadians in tech feel they have been personally discriminated against at their current company”
Diversity and inclusion–we all know it’s important. But how do we carry it out successfully?
There’s two main aspects 1) how it looks, and 2) how it feels. Understanding the difference and getting both of them right is key. For example, when talking about gender diversity–what it looks like has more to do with the stats and numbers that can be calculated from the outside. Whereas how it feels can only be expressed from the inside–determining the sentiment of employees around whether they believe the workplace is in fact inclusive.
1. How it looks
What diversity looks like sometimes has more to do with policy oriented practices, such as hiring diversely and eliminating unconscious bias in order to give all candidates equal opportunity.
How do we do this?
by engaging employees to be aware of and to understand the value of diversity and inclusion. This could include training for unconscious bias. It could be celebrations of different cultures or holidays. -It could be hiring a dedicated leader for inclusivity. Providing training. Ensuring that all leaders exemplify these positives attitudes and lead by example.
As the Future of Work expresses:
“Build an inclusive culture by:
- Taking diverse opinions into account when making decisions
- Letting employees know their feedback is important
- Establishing and enforcing zero tolerance policies for harassment that stems from age, gender/orientation, religious background, or disabilities”
2. How it Feels
While policies and practices are important, they still won’t do the job if employees don’t feel included. Feminuity does a wonderful job expressing it:
“An important aspect of diversity and inclusion strategies has been absent: belonging. As Wadors put it, “I realized that what’s missing from the discussion is this notion of belonging. No matter their background, skin color, or gender, employees wanted what I wanted: to belong.” Humans have an innate need for a sense of validation and connection with others, as well as a need to feel unique.”
This is the slightly more challenging aspect because it can’t be immediately measured through rules and regulations. However, there is a direct line to access the inclusion part of D&I–through your employees. Are they happy? Are the uncomfortable? How do they feel? The only way to know is to ask them, to be in constant, open communication, providing a safe, easy way for them to have a voice concerning this crucial topic.
When you enable employees to have a voice in your company, through surveys, through feedback, not only does it build trust in the company, it allows transparency for any potential issues and offers leaders actionable insights so that they can make positive improvements.
There is no direct formula to successfully employ diversity and inclusion. But by paying attention to what it looks like: implementing the appropriate procedures and efforts, and by validating how it feels: connecting with your employees to ask for their experience and feedback in order to make things the best they can be–this is a recipe for success.