A watershed moment for diversity and inclusivity
The 2020s have already earned their title as the decade of disruption and COVID-19 isn’t the only force for change. The past year has also served as a wakeup call for many organizations to reassess their culture and values and craft new ways of working that are people-driven and inclusive.
"Heads of DEI, who used to be pushing for change, are now receiving so many inbound requests for plans and actions to do so now."
The organizations that have stepped up to lead the way are already benefiting from empowered workforces that come from all walks of life. Inclusive companies are 1.7x more likely to be innovation leaders in their market, faster at problem-solving, and see higher levels of employee engagement. Consumers are also driven to more equitable companies, with 91% of organizations with greater workplace diversity also reporting higher customer satisfaction.
Connecting the dots to improve equity
Although many leaders are paying more attention to diversity and increasing investments in related initiatives, research shows that many of these attempts fail to crack the surface. While 98% of companies have established a diversity program, only about a quarter of employees in diverse groups say that they have personally benefitted.
How can you ensure your diversity and equity strategy resonates when so many others are missing the mark? Instead of sweeping statements, leaders need to actively listen to their workforce and use employee insights to cultivate a culture of inclusivity that empowers everyone.
Yet with many workplaces dispersed, enterprises are facing new challenges when it comes to driving cultural change. You can’t gather your employees for a townhall or teambuilding activity. Instead, leaders will increasingly rely on digital tools to learn what employees are looking for and launch new initiatives to promote equity and inclusivity.
5 ways to enhance your diversity and inclusivity initiatives
After last year’s mass-transition to remote work, your employee experience platform (EXP) has likely replaced your traditional headquarters as the hub for workplace communication and collaboration. It has also captured the attention of your senior leadership, with nearly 70% of C-level execs expressing more involvement in the digital workplace since COVID-19. As a result, your EXP can serve as the ideal launchpad for your diversity and inclusion strategy by helping you achieve the following:
#1. Start off strong with onboarding
Your new hires are likely to be a little nervous about starting fresh, so go the extra mile to make sure they feel like they belong. Share your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals right away to outline what you are doing to build a more inclusive workplace.
For a smooth start, create a portal specifically designed for onboarding that your new hires can access through an email account or Linkedin profile. Preboarding can help new joiners get familiar on their own terms and feel comfortable with training materials and introductions, even before their user credentials are sorted.
During your employees' first week, encourage them to fill out their user profile so team members can start to put a face to a name. Encourage users to personalize these pages with causes they care about, their preferred pronouns, and any notes about what they like to be called.
#2. Look to leadership to set the tone
It will be almost impossible to drive cultural shifts if your leadership team isn’t fully committed. While having a diversity and inclusion statement is certainly a step in the right direction, ultimately it is how your leaders behave that will most profoundly shape you culture.
Encourage C-level executives to serve as champions or sponsors of your workplace diversity and inclusion programs. Rather than silent partners, use your EXP to give leaders a platform to speak openly about their own commitment to equity. Publish blog posts written by your CEO and launch a video leadership series to transparently communicate the changes your organization is making to become more inclusive.
#3. Reexamine your messaging
The last thing you want is for employees to feel like your diversity initiative is just a surface level attempt to enhance your employer brand. If your workforce perceives your strategy as something that was done behind closed doors, your efforts will never resonate.
The key to creating an impactful diversity and inclusion plan is making sure it is relatable and authentic. Instead of simply telling your workforce what you plan to do, demonstrate your approach in action.
Empower your entire workforce to tell their stories and speak up about the issues they care about most. A series of user-generated blog posts can spotlight different voices within your organization and show the impact of the work you are doing from a new perspective.
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#4. Eliminate existing barriers
Part of being an inclusive workplace is ensuring that everyone can contribute to the conversation, regardless of language barriers or physical disabilities. How can you know if your digital workplace is really accessible to all?
To start, multi-lingual translation is a priority to ensure your entire workforce can read and respond to the content they are consuming in their language of choice. Also consider the Web Content Accessibility Guideline, an international standard designed to help make web content accessible to people with disabilities. Updates like a screen reader will allow users with visual impairments to engage with your EXP, with help from a narrator that reads the screen as they are navigating it.
#5. Ask your employees what you can do better
Some organizations are still failing to include the voice of their employees in their messaging. While 80% of enterprises have released or will release a statement to employees about racial injustice, more than two-thirds have not gathered the thoughts of their workforce on those issues.
If you want your diversity and inclusion strategy to feel authentic, you need to make sure employees are heard and that your initiatives reflect the values your organization shares. To launch an employee-driven strategy, start by actively listening to your workforce and giving them the opportunity to share their insights.
Create two-way comms channels that will encourage open and honest dialogues about your current diversity and inclusion efforts and what you can do to enhance them. Leverage pulse surveys and feedback forms to gauge how your employees feel about your current culture and to identify areas of improvement.
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How can technology power diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
The social movements of 2020 cemented a worldwide shift in attitude towards diversity and inclusion, both outside of the workplace and within. Technology presents us with new opportunities to create more inclusive workplaces by supporting and promoting diversity across the business. In this webinar, we bring together four influential thought leaders from around the globe to share their stories of how technology is helping them advance D&I at work and at large.
Are you ready to cultivate a culture of inclusivity?
In the new world of work, employees will increasingly view where they work as part of their identity and seek out employers whose values align with their own. If you're looking to make your employees proud to work for an organization that is inclusive and equitable, get in touch with our digital workplace experts to find out how you can take your diversity initiatives to the next level with an EXP.