Businesses are always searching for advantages over its competitors. So here is a tip you shouldn’t ignore: creating an inclusive workplace will deliver innovation, better decision-making and loyal employees.
Research over many years has shown that the more diverse the group, the better the decisions.
This works because people tend to agree with the majority option in a group, because, as we grow up, we all learn to conform if we want to be included in society. This even may mean publicly agreeing to ideas that we privately disagree with!
However social research also suggests that, in diverse groups, conformity is less frequent. People feel able to express their opinions without worrying how the others will consider them.
So, for businesses, the lesson is clear.
Hiring people of similar backgrounds, abilities, genders and ethnicities creates the real possibility that you will get consensus but miss the opportunity for new thoughts and ideas.
Research also suggests that consumers appreciate companies who are actively pursuing a diverse workplace. After all, our society is already diverse, so our customer bases are also changing and reflecting the community as a whole.
The first step is to start actively recruiting for people with different profiles and abilities. Open your mind to new possibilities rather than repeating past decisions.
But recruiting a diverse workforce is just the start. Once your staff come on board, they need to feel part of the team. They have to feel respected and safe to express their ideas.
It may be that they need to have a slightly different orientation process. Perhaps you can appoint a buddy who can guide them through your processes and introduced them to the team, so that they feel welcome.
Depending on your team culture, you could try diversity training so that your team understand their role in making new staff welcome and how to provide ongoing support. You should even look at your policies to check if there are any inbuilt assumptions, such as dress, work hours or office equipment.
Take parking, for example. Could you make an exception in your policy for employees in wheelchairs, so they do not have to park in the staff carpark some distance from the office?
A truly inclusive workplace will nurture everyone, giving everyone equal opportunity at opportunities and advancement. They should all be eligible for promotion, salary increases, and professional development.
The evidence is clear. Increase inclusivity and business benefits will flow from there.