An inclusive work culture mirrors the community the organization serves and yields many benefits for both the organization and its employees, says Angelica Ogando, founder and CEO of The Enriched Mind, LLC.
One of the key benefits of an organization having an inclusive work culture is that it has a lower turnover rate, Ogando says.
“If an organization is attracting more diverse candidates, it has people already in the organization who look like me, sound like me, and talk like me,” she notes.
“It is far less likely that I'm going to leave, especially if those other people who are like me are happy there.”
Another benefit to the organization is greater and higher-quality productivity.
“In an inclusive work culture, people feel respected and valued,” Ogando says. “Happy employees tend to give the best of themselves, generating higher-quality production. This ties into innovation. Do you have people who are different? If so, is your work environment one where people are encouraged to be themselves, be creative, and give their input?”
Employees should be recognized for their contributions, Ogando says. Recognition for bringing something different to the table, such as perspective from a diverse group, can create a very empowering work culture.
On the other hand, organizations that don’t have inclusive work cultures tend to take steps backward in production and stagnate in terms of innovation.
“They have a higher turnover rate because they have disgruntled employees who feel like they're being overworked and overlooked, they are not being seen and heard, and they are not being promoted,” Ogando points out.
“These organizations create cultures in which employees are unhappy and morale is low. The organization is not being innovative because employees aren't exchanging ideas. It is actually forcing people to leave.”
This impacts the bottom line in several ways. An inability to retain employees is costly as it requires resources for recruiting and training new employees.
In addition, the damage done by word of mouth by disgruntled ex-employees in the job market, in the marketplace, or on social media is immeasurable and difficult to contain.
Ogando says there are three main elements of creating an inclusive work culture, including:
- Self-Analysis—If the organization is trying to be more inclusive, it must do a self-analysis of where it stands in this pursuit. “Are you merely checking off boxes when it comes to diversity and inclusion, or do you have a strategy in place through which you are changing the culture to be more inclusive?” Ogando asks. “It's about becoming self-aware. It is a challenge for an organization to sit down and say it is lacking in its efforts and progress. However, that awareness will allow the organization to identify action steps and then take them.”
- Education—What is true diversity and inclusion? “We think that diversity is just attracting a diverse pool and that it covers gender, race, and sexuality,” Ogando says. “This is not completely true because we forget the inclusion and equity components. We are hiring diverse people, but are we really being inclusive? Do we welcome people who have disabilities? Are we hiring people who land on spots all along the spectrum? Are we making them feel included? A lot of companies are falling short when it comes to hiring people with disabilities—especially those with hidden disabilities—because they don’t understand and address the scope of it.”
- Training Programs—Figure out what employees need so that they feel they are valuable contributors to the organization. Do not assume that you know what each group needs; ask them. “Create training programs and initiatives that tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Ogando recommends. “Create employee resource groups in which people feel like they are being heard and understood, and someone is being an advocate for them. Train them because it is not enough to just hire diverse talent and invest in them by committing to their development and promoting them into management positions and executive-level roles.”
“Creating an inclusive work culture is not a final point,” Ogando explains. “It is an ongoing process. Once the organization undertakes its self-analysis, education, and training, it needs to assess progress internally and benchmark externally to see where it stands toward its goals. Then it needs to update its education and training to maximize its efforts in this incredibly important area.”