A company’s success relies, at least in part, on knowing how to create a great corporate culture. A positive culture keeps employees engaged, helps attract top talent, and ensures high-quality employees stick around.

HR executives often talk about hiring for culture fit to maintain and promote a workplace culture that works for the organization. The counterpoint to this is it may lead to a homogenous workplace, which could hinder innovation. Instead, HR executives can—and should—work to build a great culture that emphasizes inclusion and diversity.

Advantages of an Inclusive Workplace
A diverse, inclusive workplace encourages innovation by bringing together people with different upbringings and viewpoints to share ideas. People with varied backgrounds are more likely to approach a problem in different ways, providing multiple opportunities to find a solution, and they may have unique ways to tackle tasks, which can lead to enhanced productivity and efficiency within an organization. In a recent survey, 96 percent of respondents said they believe cultivating diversity in the workforce drives innovation. What’s more, 100 percent of respondents under age 31 called diversity “essential.”

Create an Inclusive Workplace
Creating an inclusive workplace entails much more than just hiring a diverse workforce. According to a Deloitte study on inclusion, 61 percent of respondents have “covered” in the workplace—hiding the traits that represent diversity in order to fit in. Hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t contribute to company culture if those employees are encouraged to act and think like everyone else.

Build an inclusive culture by:

  • Taking diverse opinions into account when making decisions
  • Letting employees know their feedback is important
  • Establishing and enforcing zero tolerance policies for harassment that stems from age, gender/orientation, religious background, or disabilities
  • Fostering an atmosphere of trust

How to Create a Diverse Workplace
HR directors sometimes introduce training only after they’ve noticed problems, but diversity training workshops can open employees’ eyes to those with different backgrounds, cultures, abilities, or beliefs.
Take a proactive approach by creating employee groups to offer suggestions for building a more inclusive workplace. Ask employees how they feel and if they have any concerns. Don’t be afraid to tackle difficult topics and encourage employees to identify and think beyond unintentional biases.

Additionally, ensure that office rules and regulations—from paid holidays to dress codes—reflect an inclusive culture. For instance, a workplace policy banning “extreme hairstyles” may unintentionally discriminate against some minorities.

Engaging Ways to Promote Inclusiveness

Obviously, workplace diversity is serious business, but you can be proactive about promoting inclusiveness in fun ways—while ensuring that office festivities don’t exclude any demographic of employees or their families.

  • Host a potluck meal where employees are invited to bring foods from their own culture.
  • Make sure LGBT employees feel comfortable bringing their partners to company events and gatherings.
  • Consider different food preferences (i.e., vegan, gluten-free), allergies, and religions when providing food in the company kitchen/cafeteria, as well as during special events and office celebrations.
  • Don’t just mark major holidays—festivities planned around things events Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Black History Month, and International Women’s Day can help employees feel recognized, offering them a chance to celebrate their differences and share their cultures.

Welcome a Diverse Family of Newcomers
Building a diverse, inclusive workplace should start with your current employees, and that culture should also be conveyed to newcomers. Consider the following tips:

  • Pair employees with different backgrounds for mentoring or training
  • Invite team members to share their goals and motivations in the interests of getting to know them personally and professionally
  • Make a point of recognizing employees’ unique skills and experiences

Before long, inclusive behavior should become second nature and a key part of a great company culture that thrives on diverse thinking and innovation.

Photo Credit: wallstreetinvestinggroup Flickr via Compfight cc

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