Many companies still struggle with diversity and inclusion, and this often has detrimental effects on various operations and elements of their business.
However, these organizations still strive to make their workplaces diversity- and inclusion-friendly. This is because these two concepts contribute to the enhanced performance of employees and drive innovative results. Moreover, these two play important roles in attracting top talent, which is a must for any company.
Organizations that promote diversity and inclusion also experience improved value creation and greater profitability. Lastly, companies that are successful in supporting these two practices often have no issues finding and grooming leaders from within the rank.
Implementing a diversity and inclusion program, however, is often a challenging endeavor for many organizations. Still, there are several simple yet effective ways you can promote these practices in your company.
Here are some of the best strategies and tips for supporting and promoting diversity and inclusion in your organization:
Invest in cultural diversity training programs
One of the easiest yet most effective ways of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is having all employees undergo cultural diversity training programs.
The best training courses help employees widen their cultural knowledge and understanding of different practices. These programs are also designed in a way that the workers will learn how to relate and deal effectively with people from different cultures and all walks of life.
The ideal cultural intelligence training program should be experiential in nature to allow employees to learn and understand the most vital concepts and be given a chance to practice them in suitable exercises.
Although these courses may require a significant investment, particularly if you have a large company, you will be sure your employees will understand the importance of multiculturalism and inclusion. Moreover, you will prepare them to deal with this growing concept and practice in the corporate world.
Establish a company culture where everyone is valued and respected
Organizations that focus on enabling employees to feel appreciated and a sense of connectedness will have no difficulties keeping them.
This is something that all employees should feel and experience regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief, country of origin, and physical conditions.
Establishing a workplace where employees are free to express themselves regardless of their personal circumstances is an excellent way to foster diversity and inclusion. Additionally, you have to ensure their opinions and suggestions are heard and respected by everyone.
This means making sure that no one plays favorites in the workplace. You also have to highlight the importance of practicing basic courtesy and non-discriminatory habits and customs.
Aside from group and face-to-face meetings, having one communication channel, which all employees should use, is another way you can encourage everyone to share their thoughts and feelings.
Many workers tend to clam up during live consultations. They may feel less shy and open up more when they use your online communication platform to share their opinions and suggestions.
Observe and honor different religious and cultural celebrations and holidays
Setting up prayer rooms, breastfeeding stations, and other spaces that support the practices and activities of the minority in your workplace is an excellent way to promote inclusion. Acknowledging and honoring the celebrations and holidays of various cultures is another great strategy that is easy to implement.
Start by creating a calendar that includes and honors the holidays of the different cultures present in your company. Encourage employees to get involved in making this and brainstorm ideas regarding the best ways to celebrate them.
Whether it’s Oktoberfest, Hanukkah, the Holy Week, or Eid, make plans for how everyone can join in the revelry. These can include sharing food, music, and traditional giveaways or small presents.
Aside from helping your employees become familiar with more cultures, these activities are great for team building and enabling them to connect with each other.
In case you have a large organization with a team of remote workers, and planning a huge celebration is not practical, acknowledging these holidays would suffice. Send emails of well-wishes and create posts about them on your website, social media accounts, and newsletter.
You can also greet or send messages to employees celebrating these holidays.
Additionally, promote awareness of and sensitivity to your employees’ cultural or religious beliefs and practices. Allow workers to have a break time that is earlier or later than their regular break so that they can fast or observe prayer times.
Try to speak with the caterer or canteen management about preparing dishes that they can eat as well.
Build a multicultural and multilingual workforce
Having a diverse team starts at the recruitment stage. If you want to have a healthy mix of cultures and backgrounds in the workplace, you have to attract and hire talent from different walks of life.
In case you are a global company, you have to prioritize hiring individuals that speak more than one language.
Moreover, to promote inclusion, consider language barriers and preferences. Ensure that everyone uses a language they are comfortable speaking and can understand.
However, you also have to make sure that all employees feel secure and comfortable using their dialect and communicating in the language they prefer. This is something that you should prioritize and encourage in common areas and events where everyone is gathered together.
Many companies are also adopting a unique approach to having a multilingual workforce: investing in language learning programs. Although this may be an expensive undertaking, it is an excellent strategy that will make employees more prepared for a diverse work environment.
Your employees will also love taking these courses since multilingual capabilities are a great addition to their resumes, particularly when they are planning to move overseas at some point.
Take the lead
Lastly, another easy and simple way you can support diversity and inclusion in your organization is to share your own culture and background with others.
Never underestimate the cultural value you can add to your organization. Help others to widen their knowledge by sharing with them your traditions, beliefs, and practices that were shaped by your upbringing and experiences.
Go a step further and inspire others to follow you and contribute to the company culture. Aside from letting them take the lead during their important holidays, encourage them to bring and share something, such as a traditional treat from their home country, which is great for sparking conversations.
When your employees have high cultural intelligence, you can expect to see positive changes in the workplace. Moreover, you will help them find success in your organization and wherever their career paths take them.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.