Companies no longer view diversity as a compliance-based cost center. They understand that diverse organizations create more revenue, are more successful, and have richer and more inclusive employee cultures.
Inclusive cultures — where employees are comfortable to be themselves and feel their voices matter — are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and twice as likely to exceed financial targets.
Diverse companies attract more business and work more efficiently. Consumers increasingly align their purchasing from companies that are committed to ethical business practices such as workforce diversity. Companies that are inclusive experience 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three year period than their non-inclusive counterparts.
Having people on the same team with different experiences and thought processes can often find different solutions to the same problem. Research shows that groups with different perspectives approach problems in different ways, often creating different solutions.
If you’re working to set up a diversity initiative at your company, you need to look into what keeps diverse talent engaged and retained: inclusion. It’s a key component of workforce diversity and vital to successful diversity programs.
Your Diversity Programs Need Inclusion
Whether or not it’s intended, employees that do not feel included in a company's culture tend to underperform. If an employee feels they can’t express themselves at work, the stress of presenting a false front will create problems with with their work and eventually lead to them leaving for a more inclusive organization. Additionally, they won’t feel they can express different ideas and they tend to act more conservatively or don't engage with others at all.
Organizations that dampen expression not only lose productivity but experience increased attrition as those same employees leave for more inclusive companies. Inclusion helps candidates see the office as a place that they would belong in.
Companies that don’t practice inclusion are at a disadvantage. A survey of 3,000 workers at 20 U.S. firms revealed that:
- 61 percent “covered” differences because they felt that they were “wrong”
- 66 percent believed that pressure to mute aspects of their identity hurt sense of self
- 51 percent said that perceived pressure to “cover up” from leadership affected their view of work opportunities
- 50 percent felt less committed to the company
One woman in the study said that her colleagues suggested she could receive a “motherhood penalty” for bringing up family responsibilities. Even 45% of white male respondents recognized that they downplayed mental health and physical disabilities to fit in.
Inclusion plays a critical role in helping existing employees feel accepted and psychologically safe. But you should also build inclusion into the process that hires those employees in the first place.
Build Diversity Into the Hiring Process to Cultivate Inclusion
Many diversity hiring initiatives only come into play at the end of the hiring process, when there are only a few candidates. But studies show that by this point, if members of underrepresented groups are underrepresented at the time of the final hiring decision, there is statistically zero chance they are hired.
These are ways you can start building inclusion into your hiring process:
- Create diverse interviewing panels that include a range of diverse employees.
- Leverage job boards and professional diversity groups to widen your geographic sourcing footprint.
- Avoid making screening decisions based on job-irrelevant criteria like as college attendance or employment gaps.
- Craft job descriptions with inclusive wording, avoiding overly-masculine terms like “guru” or “hacker.”
- Use video interviewing at the beginning of your process to provide all candidates an “open mic” to demonstrate their skills and aptitudes.
If you’re not building inclusion into every step of the hiring process, you’re not getting the most out of your diversity programs. Candidates who will stay and contribute are more interested in joining an organization where they will feel included, these efforts should start before they set foot in your office.
Diversity and inclusion are intertwined. They work with each other to build a company’s culture, and by extension employee morale and productivity. When you source, recruit, and hire diverse talent you not only build a culture that attracts different minds, but prove that diversity isn’t just about ticking off boxes.