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Why it’s so Important to Build an Inclusive Workplace

Thursday May 23, 2024

A diverse team working together in a brightly lit office building, talking and smiling

Creating an inclusive workplace is no longer a “nice-to-have” but a strategic necessity for attracting top talent, boosting employee engagement, and increasing productivity.

Unfortunately, a McKinsey study revealed that although 52% of employees are satisfied with their team’s diversity, only 29% are content with its inclusivity—with 61% discontent.

What can team leaders do to improve their team’s sense of belonging and inclusion? Here’s an overview of why inclusion is important and how to improve it.

Why is Inclusivity Important?

The value of diversity in the workplace has been well-documented, but research suggests that diversity alone isn’t enough.

That’s because trust, camaraderie, and belonging are necessary to capitalize on the benefits of a diverse workforce.

Unfortunately, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), 31% of AAPI, and 25% of Black and Hispanic employees have been mistreated, and subject to negative biases and stereotypes. Such treatment isn’t conducive to productivity and employee engagement.

 

Diversity’s benefits can be realized when inclusion is added to the mix. Research shows that inclusion:

  • Increases productivity by approximately 35%.
  • Makes employees 9.8x more likely to look forward to work.
  • Makes employees 5.4x more likely to stay with the company long-term.

Further, the workforce of the future places a high value on inclusion, with approximately 83% of GenZ employees rating it as an important consideration of working at a company.

“The clear pattern is that companies that were truly inclusive, doing the hard work getting all the way there, were just having an extraordinary bump in performance,” says author and speaker Anne Morris in the Teamraderie Leadership Lab event, How To Build Trust.

How To Build an Inclusive Workplace

In an inclusive workplace, all employees feel valued and included regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age, culture, or background.

When a workplace is inclusive, diversity isn’t only present but celebrated. The workplace becomes a space that acknowledges differences and perceives them as a benefit for the company.

But how do managers ensure employees feel included? More importantly, How can you build an inclusive culture?

Below are four tips for promoting inclusivity at work.

1. Prioritize Psychological Safety

Psychological safety has been linked to a wide range of positive business outcomes.

According to HBR, when diverse teams don’t have psychological safety, they underperform homogenous teams.

“Despite any majestic difference that any of us are bringing to the table, it’s the job of all of us to make sure each of us feels safe,” says Harvard Business School Professor and Teamraderie Advisor Frances Frei in How To Build Trust.

HBR highlights three ways to boost psychological safety in diverse teams:

  • Framing: Frame differences as sources of value and meetings as opportunities to share information.
  • Inquiry: Intentionally ask team members to share thoughts and opinions and express appreciation when they do so.
  • Bridge boundaries: Cultivate understanding by encouraging team members to share hopes and goals, resources and skills, and concerns and obstacles.

Taking these steps to boost psychological safety will go a long way in improving your team’s culture of inclusivity.

Teamraderie’s Psychological Safety Team Journey was co-created with Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson and is designed to improve psychological safety in your team.

2. Focus on Building Trust and Respect

The second thing that must be instituted in a diverse workplace is trust and mutual respect.

Unfortunately, trust doesn’t come naturally—it often requires work.

“It is harder to build trust on diverse teams,” says Morris in How To Build Trust. “The inconvenient fact is that teams that are diverse but not yet high-trust high-inclusive teams perform worse.”

Empathy is key to building trust in diverse teams.

“If I treat you like I want to be treated, that’s only going to work for people who are just like me,” says Frei. “So when we have people that are different than us, if we’re going to use empathy, we have to not practice the golden rule. We actually need to treat people as they want to be treated, and it’s going to be very different the more different we are.”

Teamraderie’s Team Trust Journey was created in partnership with Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei. In this journey, your team will learn how to increase empathy, logic, and authenticity to improve team trust.

3. Celebrate Differences

In inclusive teams, employees are typically hired for culture-add vs. culture-fit.

Inclusive workplace cultures recognize that differences are strengths and should be celebrated rather than discouraged.

According to Frei in How To Build Trust, “…this sounds easy, but it’s actually quite hard because we usually celebrate what’s in common.”

Recognizing and appreciating everyone’s unique strengths is often easier said than done.

Teamraderie’s team experience, Recognizing Strengths, is an excellent way to celebrate uniqueness and express appreciation for your team members—while receiving appreciation yourself.

4. Listen to Employee Feedback

Building a truly inclusive workplace requires active listening and understanding the perspectives of your employees.

There may be hidden challenges or concerns you’re unaware of, and addressing these issues is crucial for fostering a culture that values diversity and inclusion.

Here are three tips for sourcing feedback from employees:

  • Listen to employee concerns during individual meetings
  • Take action where needed and express appreciation for the feedback you receive
  • Ask your employees to share ideas, stories, and experiences that can guide you

Teamraderie’s team experience, Feedback Framework, is an excellent way to learn how to give and receive feedback.

Cultivate Inclusion With Teamraderie

Creating a diverse workplace isn’t something that can be done once and then ignored. It’s something that has to undergo constant updates, changes, and adaptations to ensure it works.

You’ll find there’s always something new to learn and another area to improve on. Open yourself up to those adjustments when needed.

Teamraderie’s experiences are an excellent opportunity for your team to come together and connect. These live, virtual workshops will cultivate inclusion and belonging in your team.

Click here to check out our experience finder with more than 60 live, expert-led experiences to choose from.

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