Diversity and inclusion are at an inflection point when it comes to the workplace.

The signs are all around us: today’s headlines are taking insidious “bro” culture to task, and calls for diversity and inclusion have been among the top trends and predictions in recent years.

And if common sense is failing some organizations when it comes to upping these efforts, business sense shouldn’t. A recent McKinsey report showed that gender-diverse and ethnically-diverse companies are likely to outperform others by 15% and 35%, respectively.

For companies starting to rethink workplace inclusion, the amount of emerging information on this topic can seem overwhelming. To help you get started, the YouEarnedIt team has pulled from recent research and lessons learned while helping organizations amplify their company culture to provide some simple do’s and don’ts.

Don’t: Create set-and-forget policies

If new diversity and inclusion policies begin as a “task for HR” to be ticked off a checklist of best practices and sent out as a company-wide email, they’ve already failed.

Like strong core values, these efforts need to feel like part of the fabric of the company, and constantly worn as such, to be successful at a business.

The message is very clear: diversity and inclusion is now a business
strategy, not an HR program.

Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte

Do: Make it a team effort

It’s fine if workplace inclusion policies originate with ideas and compliance needs from HR, but one or more executive stakeholders should establish buy-in early and often throughout the process, and the feedback and needs of employees should be incorporated every step of the way.

Without input from the entire organization, inclusion policies will suffer from extreme blind spots.

Don’t: Rely on top-down edicts

When promoting a culture of inclusion, it’s important to avoid the forceful, top-down proclamations that many new policies suffer from when they are rolled out. These generalized statements can have the opposite effect — making the employees they affect feel like they weren’t included in the process or thought of when considering the impact.

In a Forbes interview on how companies can benefit from inclusion, Shirley Engelmeier reiterates, “When all decisions are made at the highest levels, for example, lower-level employees might feel like their opinions and ideas are being controlled rather than heard.”

Do: Promote peer-to-peer recognition

Creating a culture of peer-to-peer recognition is an effective way to ensure your policies and core values related to inclusion are opted into by employees. Companies can use dedicated employee experience platforms to redefine recognition this way. In his bottom-line conclusions of recent diversity and inclusion data in the workplace, Josh Bersin adds, “People perform best when they feel valued, empowered, and respected by their peers.”

Don’t: Try a one-size-fits-all solution

To many organizations, new diversity and inclusion policies may feel like they coming from positive intentions, but making broad assumptions and generalized attempts to remedy the situation misses the mark.

Just because employees feel aligned to a company’s overall mission doesn’t mean one action speaks to each person’s inclusion needs. Beyond gender and ethnic inclusion considerations, age should factor in as well.

Do: Mind the (generation) gap

With four generations firmly in the workplace (or five, depending on your view), be mindful of generational differences. As one FastCompany article recently pointed out, millennials have a different definition of diversity and inclusion. Likewise, Generation X, primed to assume many leadership positions as baby boomers retire, are at a vastly different point in their professional careers, affecting their ideas of workplace inclusion.

Related: See 14 Rewards for Motivating Gen X Employees

Don’t: Forget the manager’s role

YouEarnedIt CEO Autumn Manning recently pointed out managers are the employee engagement solution hiding in plain sight. In companies’ frantic efforts to engage employees around their work or inclusion policies, bad managers are hindering progress.

That isn’t to say all managers need to be replaced. Rather, they can become better managers if they’re equipped to do so.

Without properly equipped managers providing regular feedback and giving employees a voice, it’s difficult for shared values, trust, and a sense of common purpose to spread across an organization.

This is how purpose-driven companies are born. And purpose-driven companies are winning.

Autumn Manning, CEO, YouEarnedIt

Do: Make the most of 1-on-1s

Effective 1-on-1s are critical to the manager-employee relationship and, ultimately, the success of inclusion policies and bottom-line business metrics at companies. Yet they’re often overlooked.

In the wake of our webinar, “A Manager’s Playbook, How to Hold Effective 1-on-1s,” YouEarnedIt’s Director of Employee Experience, Kim Dawson provided a holistic view of what companies can change regarding manager onboarding, preparation, and follow-through to make the most of manager 1-on-1 meetings.

About YouEarnedIt
YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, YouEarnedIt grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit www.youearnedit.com/demo.

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Skyler Rogers