Quantum Workplace research shows that diverse teams tend to be 20% more innovative than their peers. The research also shows that 75% of the employees need greater diversity at their workplaces. Inclusion is now a top priority for organizations. Organizations need to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace especially in the attitude and culture of the employees while ensuring their HR processes are in line with the right philosophy of inclusion.

Why Do We Need Inclusive Workplaces?

Inclusive workplaces attract top talent, enhance productivity and improve the employee experience, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. An open and inclusive workplace makes the employees feel welcome. It empowers individual voices regardless of their caste, creed or class, and allows everyone to grow so that the organization thrives.

It has also been found that inclusive organizations tend to outperform the others lagging behind in this aspect. A culture of inclusion, fairness, and equity instills confidence in the employees that their efforts would not go unseen, that they would not be looked down upon at their place of work and that they wouldn’t be sidelined owing merely to their identity or perspective. This results in higher creative confidence, leading to innovative and productive employees.

However, it is found that organizations have been slow in their transition to a positive culture. A recent McKinsey&Company pulse surveys sheds light on the widening gap in both productivity and profitability between inclusive organizations and other companies that are reluctant or even slow in transition.

Factors that slow down a company’s growth with respect to culture are many.

Pitfalls of The Traditional Hierarchical System

It is not possible to do away with hierarchy in an organization as people deal with different sets of tasks that are connected through a line of work. Defining roles helps to fix accountability and streamline the entire work till the product is manufactured or the service is rendered.

However, this system could take a toxic turn if it is used strictly (enough to stifle the creativity of the employees) or even unethically. It is often noted that employees have a negative sentiment on the bias at the level of supervisors. Such tendencies can be detrimental to creative confidence, innovation, and overall commitment to the organization, leading to stagnation or attrition. And these are counter productive for enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Discrimination in Various Forms

A 2020 report by the Business Standard revealed that 33% of Indians faced age-based discrimination, 17% faced discrimination based on their physical appearance, and another 15% faced bias based on their culture or religion. A large number of employees feel sidelined, looked down upon, and disadvantaged owing to their class, creed, and culture.

Cases of bullying are not unheard of. Many of them lose the vigor to try and end up as disengaged employees, while others choose to quit. This is morally wrong and mars employee experience and work culture, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and adversely affects brand strengthening.

Not Differentiating Diversity and Inclusion

It is often seen that organizations fail to differentiate between diversity and inclusion. While ensuring diversity through representation is essentially the first step to take, the mere presence of a diverse workforce does not make an organization inclusive.

In that direction, leadership has to ensure their participation in decision making and an equitable, fair, and transparent work culture.

Having a diverse workforce but not an inclusive workplace can be challenging. It can slow down decision-making, compromise the integrity of the workforce and make workplace conflict ridden.

The Gender Aspect

Women and the third gender seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to employment- both during recruitment and after.

Women mostly occupy junior roles and are often the first to take the hit in the event of downsizing or automation. Their growth is also challenged by the glass ceiling phenomenon, pay disparity, the culturally imposed greater responsibility in the domestic realm, and deeper concerns like sexual harassment at the workplace.

According to the 2011 census, women constitute about 48% of the population – we cannot head anywhere without the contribution of half our population and it also is a huge challenge for organizations that aim to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Creating Workplaces that Ensure Inclusion

Creating a positive and inclusive work culture takes time and effort on multiple levels. It requires a change in attitude, behavior, and processes. A few means to improve workplace inclusion are listed below.

Employing a Performance Management System (PMS)

A PMS not only helps improve productivity but also helps the leadership get credible employee data to assess employees, reward good outcomes, and plan succession.

Hence it allows a company with an organizational hierarchy to ensure unbiased employee reprisal, thereby ensuring fairness and equality of opportunity.

Active Listening

Active listening improves the confidence of the employees in the leadership, resulting in greater loyalty and ownership. Employee engagement survey results are one of the time-tested tools to achieve this end. Such periodic pulse surveys or employee engagement surveys help understand workplace issues and how they hinder employees from giving their best. Also, grave workplace issues like bullying and harassment tend to come out in these pulse surveys or employee engagement surveys where the employees get anonymous.

Winzard Workforce Experience modules developed in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad deliver deep, actionable insights to the leaders that can help them make the right decisions at the right time. Winzard also provides employee engagement surveys that help you understand your employees and get actionable insights.

Conscious Steps to Inculcate Inclusion

Such steps are to be undertaken at the workplace- from one-to-one employee conversations to cultivating inclusive micro habits. Leadership can also make inclusion leadership a core competency. Such measures can induce behavioral change in each individual.

Talent is not unidimensional. It comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Identifying the right person for the job, appreciating and developing talent should be the primary concern in people management. However, hiring a diverse workforce isn’t enough to carve out an inclusive workplace. Ensuring representation, active listening, fair and equitable approach to all employees, cultivating a culture of appreciation, and trickling down inclusive micro-habits from top rungs of the organization are the proper steps to take in this direction.