inclusive leader
Creating an Inclusive Organization

How can an organization really tell if it’s inclusive? There are diversity metrics it can track. But, there is a difference between diversity and inclusion that I’ve touched on before, and I’ll mention it again here. 

Think of it this way: diversity is like being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance. Look around and ask yourself, “who is on the dance floor with you, and how did they get there? What do they look like? What is their background? Their lived experiences?” Are you just surrounded by the people you know who make you feel the most comfortable in your shared similarities?

Here are the Facts

We tend to stick to what we know. But why is this the wrong move? This article by Workrowd does a really good job explaining. 

Here are the main things that stood out to me. 

  • Did you know that “Companies with inclusive cultures saw 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period.”
  • “Companies with higher-than average levels of diversity saw 19% higher innovation revenues.”
  • And my favorite statistic: “Companies with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times as likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.”

3 Steps to Inclusion

When we deny our organization the opportunity to be diverse and inclusive, we miss out on innovation and have crippling blindspots. 

Here are three ways to ensure your organization is doing the most to be inclusive:

1. Ask yourselves, “Who have I invited to dance? What do they look like? Do they share similar experiences to mine? Will they be able to be their fullest self comfortably?”

The more inclusive an organization is, the more likely it will maintain diverse talent and perform better. Therefore if the entire organization’s culture rests on “like” being with “like,” then there is no room for inclusion to take root and flourish. Growth in any form is uncomfortable. Growing in inclusion is too. But the benefits outweigh any discomfort that branching out may cause. Besides, organizations that cling to the cultures of the past will struggle. They will find that they cannot maintain diverse talent because they lack a fertile environment for a diverse workforce to flourish. 

2. The second question I want you to reflect on is, who is your organization promoting through the ranks?

Typically, I see that even if there is diverse talent, the development path tends to be of people from the same background. When that’s the case, then who holds the seats at the decision maker’s table? That’s right, a group of like-minded individuals with less of an opportunity to be innovative and successful. Since decision-makers tend to hold rank in the higher levels of an organization, diversity metrics must remain strong through each tier of the company. 

3. Lastly, I want you to reflect on what kind of language your organization uses and allows. Does the colloquial dialect of your organization contain any microaggressions? Is it limiting and specific to certain demographics with similar lived experiences? 

We have to be careful to use words that bring people closer together and create more unified workplaces rather than using divisive language that drives people away. The easiest way to ensure that your organization’s syntax is appropriate and inclusive is by researching both within and outside of your organization. Solicit feedback and educate the employees that make up your organization. 

Join the Movement

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging are here to stay. And judging by statistics, they will work wonders for our workplaces if given the proper opportunity to thrive. Inclusive teams will thrive, innovate and move forwards. So I invite you to be an inclusive organization that expands the circle instead of tightening it.