After examining why diversity and inclusion are so valuable to business and recognising the positive impact that comes from an environment where employees can be their authentic selves, the natural questions that follow include:  

What now? 

How does inclusion become an organic part of an organisation? 

What can be done to make a culture of belonging part of a company’s DNA? 

There are many ways to weave diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) into the ethos of a business and make it central to culture and strategy. To get started, I invite leaders to adopt eight practices. 

#1 – Ensure Leaders Take Action 

Executive leadership must be on board before change can take root. Every employee will have a role to play in creating a more inclusive workplace, and the C-suite must embrace the shift before it can truly blossom. 

In my first blog post in the series, I spoke about the importance of defining a shared vision for DEIB. Building on that step, executives can walk the talk by adjusting the strategies of their departments to honour what the company has put forth. 

As Dr. Patti Fletcher describes, culture realignment is successful when the values are manifested through execution. Leaders can assess their goals, policies and workflows in context with their DEIB vision to commit to specific, tangible changes to integrate inclusion into their practices.   

#2 – Craft Team Norms 

Norms refer to the ways that employees and groups agree to interact with one another. Often, the rules of engagement are unwritten, and staff rely on social cues to align with common practices. 

I find that clarifying team norms can support any organisation that is aiming to create a shared culture. When changes are being implemented, writing down and codifying desired practices is especially important. 

One way to institute behavioural shifts is to list out the actions that would demonstrate a commitment to the company’s vision for DEIB. Then, executives can narrow the practices to a small list of “must dos.” For more formal guidance, there are many tools available to help leaders craft team norms, including a workshop we offer in our Power of WE series. 

#3 – Incorporate Inclusion into Decision-Making 

Teams and staff make decisions every day. By weaving diversity into the process, the workforce will become accustomed to being mindful and respectful of differences in outlook and needs.  

Consider the mix of employees who are consulted on decisions. Ensure that they have a diverse range of expertise, ages and backgrounds. Additionally, being mindful of cognitive diversity – or the distinct ways people prefer to think and behave – empowers individuals to unearth new points of view and think more critically about their options and alternatives. 

In addition to influencing a culture shift, including varying perspectives into the decision-making process has an added benefit for corporations. It also improves the bottom line as teams tend to solve problems faster and with greater accuracy when they are cognitively diverse. 

#4 – Promote Open Dialogue 

To ensure personnel feel comfortable raising their voices as well as sharing their authentic concerns, viewpoints and opinions, it’s important to encourage open dialogue by providing communication training. 

Invest in skill-building programmes that help employees better convey their messages, listen actively as well as navigate conflict. By providing staff with tools to address differences with empathy and respect, the workforce will be able to express themselves more confidently and candidly. 

Additionally, leaders can offer multiple platforms to encourage workers to share their inputs and ideas. Using chat channels, surveys and forums to solicit the feedback of staff further establishes an environment where every opinion matters. 

#5 – Utilise Coaching to Inspire Connection 

Coaching is a powerful way to promote psychological safety and belonging. In peer coaching, personnel work with a colleague to give and receive feedback. The relationship promotes a sense of connection between employees who may not otherwise connect while introducing them to alternative perspectives.  

Management coaching can lead to positive impacts for supervisors and direct reports. By improving their communication and leadership skills, managers are better able to engage with teammates and honour their needs.  

The ripple effect on employees is impressive. After supervisors receive coaching: 

  • 65% of staff members say they can be more of themselves at work 
  • 72% report feeling safer offering an opinion, even if it’s different from their manager or the team 
  • 63% say that they feel more valued for their unique skills 

#6 – Encourage Mentorship  

Mentorship is different from coaching in that the intent is to pair employees who can share their knowledge and experience as well as provide guidance for other members of staff. Mentoring allows personnel at different levels to naturally build connections with one another. 

The partnerships often unite individuals of different ages, functional skills or interests, which can result in eye-opening conversations for all parties involved. While it is often the more “seasoned” mentor who may initially be seen as imparting their wisdom, mentees have a great deal of insight to share as well. 

By positioning mentorships as a way for both participants to learn from one another, relationships will flourish across generations and sectors of the company, and in effect, inspire a greater sense of belonging. 

#7 – Reassess Benefits Packages  

While benefits may fall under the domain of Human Resources, reimagining the offerings can cultivate a mindset shift across the business and operationalise inclusion. To start, examine the benefits that are provided for employees. 

For example, what does the business’s leave policy look like? Does it consider all sorts of parents? Does it address the care of diverse family units? Are various religious observances honoured? 

By recognising that one set of solutions will not support every person and adjusting to consider the many different roles, responsibilities and interests of staff, workers will feel seen. Bringing awareness and compassion to the nuances will also help managers to be more mindful of the different needs of their direct reports. 

#8 – Share Accountability for Results 

As I alluded to earlier, integrating DEIB into a company’s DNA begins and ends with leaders. It cannot be left to one person or department. Executives across the business must have a stake in driving the change. 

There is truth to the adage “What gets measured, gets managed,” so I recommend evaluating the appraisal process to ensure that leaders know they are accountable for influencing DEIB. Identify the competencies that can be woven into the review process to ensure that management is behaving in alignment with an inclusive culture. 

Related competencies can also be utilised at the employee level, empowering every person in the business knows what is expected of them to advance a climate of belonging.  

Creating a culture where every person feels appreciated and valued for being themselves will inspire a more loyal, engaged and productive workforce. It also has the benefit of fueling your business strategy and propelling the performance of your organisation. Adopting the practices above, you will promote a positive change in your environment and reap the benefits that come from an inclusive workplace. 

Interested in learning more about how Emergenetics can support your DEIB initiatives? Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our teammates today! 


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