Inclusion at Work: Foster or Fumble
Billie Jean King once said, “It’s hard to understand inclusion until you’ve been excluded.”
Over the past two years we have seen workers leave companies faster than we can replace them. These departures left a huge hole in the labor market. Ultimately, employees want to work in a place that they feel heard, included, and appreciated. This tumultuous season has been a catalyst for change – inclusion at work and belonging are at the center of that change.
83% of candidates say that inclusion is an important factor to consider when accepting a job offer (Yello). It’s SO important that over half said they would ask about inclusion initiatives during the interview.
Employees and job seekers are rethinking the types of companies they want to work for and looking for shared values. They are leaving their current companies or deciding not to pursue other opportunities because of a perceived lack of inclusion. Candidates are not looking for perfection, but they want transparency when it comes to how employers foster an inclusive environment.
Are you aware of how your beliefs and perceptions of others can affect your behavior and how that translates down to your team and beyond? Most leaders would agree that inclusion at work is important but are often unaware of some of the things they do or say that result in a culture that is just the opposite.
Employees who differ from many of their colleagues in gender, religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background often downplay or hide aspects of themselves at work for fear of negative consequences. Don’t underestimate the impact this can have to the employee and to the organization. Not feeling comfortable at work affects job performance, confidence, the desire to progress, and ultimately leads to employees with no real loyalty to the organization. If this is happening, are you getting the best out of them and how could it be affecting your bottom line and ability to attract new talent? Is your retention suffering?
Get the Most out of Your Employees
When an employee brings their “whole self” to work, they are showing up as the best version of themselves. As a result, employee engagement increases, and productivity and profitability see a positive impact.
Inclusion is measured by connection, a sense of belonging, and the community at work. It is human nature to seek acceptance and want to have a sense of belonging. By cultivating an engaging culture, employees begin to use their voice and participate because they feel connected to their workplace and the people around them. Employees are empowered when they feel respected, psychologically safe, engaged, and motivated. The result is a culture that fosters employee engagement, productivity, innovation, and retention.
Don’t simply check the DEI box. Be intentional with inclusion initiatives. Actively and openly celebrate diversity.
What does inclusion at work look like for your organization?