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How to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace: 4 best practices

Even when some companies are pinkwashing, greenwashing, etc, we must acknowledge the direct impact in the workplace.

Fuckup team
February 17, 2023
How to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Diversity & inclusion builds stronger teams

Every year, companies invest thousands of dollars in implementing diversity and inclusion programs within their teams. The reason: diversity & inclusion builds stronger teams, with better problem-solving skills, resiliency, and empathy. 

According to Josh Bersin's research, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be leaders in their own market, able to solve problems faster, and enjoy a strong list of benefits of a more diverse workplace.

We believe that diversity and inclusion are key elements for any company wanting to grow in the 21st century. And even when some companies are diversifying for pink washing, greenwashing, etc we must admit it has a direct impact on the workplace, the people that make it up, and their mental health.

For honest, ethical organizations who want to fuck up the system and for the greedy ones who want to flex just for clout, the million dollar question remains the same: how do we foster diversity in a company and what are the benefits beyond revenue? 

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is to give each member of the team the chance to play a role, express an opinion, participate actively, and have access to company resources.

In a football team, diversity will mean having different “types” of people in your team, and inclusion will mean passing the ball to each team member so that everyone has the chance to play. Inclusion is having different “types” of people on your team. 

What is diversity?

A“diverse team includes individuals from different nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, educational backgrounds, etc. It gives organizations a wide array of perspectives on the same subjects. There are 4 types of diversity:

  • Internal: These belong to individuals, and cannot be changed, such as ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, etc.
  • External: These don’t belong to us and we cannot (or it’s difficult to) change them. For example education (quality), appearance, location, socioeconomic status, life experiences (the opportunity to have them), etc.
  • Organizational: Also called “Functional Diversity”, refers to the positions held inside a company by a diverse group of people. Examples are job title and payscale, management/employee status, seniority, etc.
  • Worldview: This refers to how we see the world, our perspectives on certain matters, and our personal values. Examples: political beliefs, moral compass, outlook on life, epistemology, etc.

Why do companies commonly want to be more diverse and inclusive?

Besides yielding more productivity, innovation, and well-being at work, there are several other reasons why diversity and inclusion are important for companies. Understanding this can help to easily apply diversity/inclusion to a clearer goal and better approach. Here are some common reasons why companies want to become more diverse/inclusive:

  • Law: In some countries, it is a legal requirement to hire a certain percentage of staff from minority groups. The requirement differs between countries and others even forbid the so-called “diversity quota” and take a different approach to promote diversity in companies.
  • Morals: Sometimes business owners seek a more inclusive/diverse working environment due to their personal beliefs (kudos to them!). They want to have a more accessible working environment for everyone, so they hire individuals from systemically minoritized groups.
  • Clients: This is when companies have a global customer service center or want to have a worldwide presence and engage different types of clients. Having a more diverse team will allow you to connect with a broader audience.
  • Workforce: Having a diverse workforce will mean having different perspectives on the same issues within a company. This will impact problem-solving skills by enhancing your team’s initiatives and outlooks. A team with heterogeneous characteristics (gender, income access, etc) can blindside your company’s peripheral vision, and compromise the ability to see problems from different perspectives.

How to embrace diversity and inclusion in your company?

Each company has a different approach to implementing diversity/inclusion. Just like human DNA, it’s unique in every case, there are different approaches in every company, but here are some common practices:

  1. Identify the reason why you want to be more diverse/inclusive: This will give you a clear goal of what you want to accomplish. Do you want to reach out to a broader audience or improve your team’s problem-solving skills?

  1. What's your current status: If you’re looking to build a more diverse team, look at your current team and take those numbers as your starting point. If your team is 80% men and 20% women, maybe you’re looking for a more gender-diverse team. Do you want to reach a broader audience? Then maybe check how many nationalities you have within your team, and start from there.

  1. You can use your team’s professional network to start your pool of candidates: If you’re looking to diversify the group in terms of nationalities, your team may already have connections, ask them for recommendations.

  1. Evaluate how many opportunities some team members have compared to others: their conditions at work, and their overall status in the company. Start creating open and safe spaces to increase participation. This will also mean restructuring your company so everyone has the opportunity to grow, participate and learn.

By diversifying a team, there are two important aspects to keep in mind: First, when you add other worldviews to the mix and these will inevitably change the team. Expect, welcome, and be prepared for this transformation. And second, acknowledge that a single person isn’t necessarily a representation of their systematically minoritized group. Communities aren’t a monolith. There’s diversity within diversity.

Whatever approach you have, make sure you have a clear goal and process in place. Also, make sure you involve team members in open discussions around the subject of diversity and inclusion. Training and workshops can also help to lay the foundations of diversity/inclusion in your company.

As part of The Failure Program, we have developed e-learning courses and workshops that aim to transform organizational cultures in order to embrace diversity as an asset. If you’re ready to have difficult conversations around diversity and inclusion, fill out this form and we'll get back to you with a plan to do so.

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How to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace: 4 best practices
Shanti Banus


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