Strategies to Create a Culture of Inclusion in the Workplace

What strategies create a culture of inclusion in the workplace? Use this reference guide to learn more about why workplace diversity matters for organizations.
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Diverse cultures are sources of strength in the workplace. Companies that undervalue diversity in the workplace face consequences ranging from employee burnout and excessive turnover to expensive lawsuits and missed opportunities for profit and innovation. 

In contrast, when workplaces create a culture of inclusion and respect, companies become better equipped to harness the creativity, grit, and productivity of their employees. The result? Elevated employee satisfaction metrics, streamlined processes, fewer barriers to meeting deadlines — and, ultimately, higher profit margins. 

Diverse Culture in the Workplace: How to Use This Guide

Although most companies want to create an inclusive workplace that empowers employees, many may not know where to start. To help organizations embrace a more diverse work culture, this guide provides specific strategies for building an inclusive company culture. 


Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) consulting firms, such as the Kaleidoscope Group, emphasize the difference between hiring diverse employees and valuing diversity at every organizational level. 

Diversity Versus Inclusion

  • Diversity is a variety of skills, experiences, values, and cultures. All employees and stakeholders contribute to the diversity of an organization. 
  • Inclusion is a state of valuing and leveraging employees’ diversity to create an environment that empowers employees to do their best work. 

When companies empower workers to bring their full selves to work, that’s inclusion. Organizations should strive not just to hire a diverse labor force but also to create structures that allow all employees to experience the benefits of workplace diversity.

Dimensions of Diversity

Diversity and inclusion consulting firms address many different dimensions of diversity:

Primary

  • Age
  • Ability
  • Ethnicity/ethnicities
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Language(s)
  • Nationality
  • Race(s)
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran status

Occupational

  • Role/job classification
  • Performance expectations
  • Skills
  • Training
  • Work experience
  • Work location

Stylistic

  • Communication style
  • Leadership style
  • Learning style
  • Personality
  • Work habits

Quick Diversity and Inclusion Statistics

To gain a better understanding of just how important workplace inclusion really is, here are some diversity and inclusion statistics from workplaces across the U.S.:

Workplace Diversity Statistics

U.S. Demographic Statistics Relevant to Diversity Initiatives


How to Create an Inclusion Committee

An employer that underpays and overworks women and people of color creates a toxic workplace culture. When workers feel undervalued at work, their work performance can suffer, and so can their mental and physical health. To help prevent a toxic workplace culture, workers, especially those in management positions, need to look out for signs that diversity is being underappreciated. 

One meaningful step to take in improving workplace culture is to create an inclusion committee. In the process, managers and company leaders can glean important insights about employee satisfaction, barriers to productivity, and options for moving forward.

Step 1: Start with a Vision

An inclusion committee should define a clear vision for an improved workplace culture. According to Affirm, inclusion committees can provide clear benefits to organizations:

  • Implement company-specific goals to recruit, retain, and advance diverse talent
  • Operationalize concrete measures to create and sustain an inclusive culture
  • Annually publish data and progress metrics on the diversity of the workforce across seniority levels
  • Invest in partnerships to build a diverse pipeline of talent, and develop and support talent from all backgrounds 

Step 2: Get Executive Buy-In and a Budget

An inclusion committee needs the financial support of the executive team. Diversity and inclusion initiatives need to be employee-led to represent an organization’s demographics, but they also need the support of human resources, legal, and finance departments.

Step 3: Identify Focus Areas

Each organization has specific inclusion needs: diversity metrics, recruitment, retention, community partnerships, and so on. Inclusion committees should prioritize and focus on specific tasks and metrics, according to their organization’s needs.

Step 4: Set Goals

Committees for promoting diversity and inclusion may adopt many different goals. Some tasks for achieving diversity and inclusion goals include:

Metrics-Oriented Tasks

  • Create a diversity and inclusion survey
  • Analyze diversity and inclusion data
  • Maintain up-to-date employee demographic metrics
  • Write a monthly newsletter
  • Publish goals and data

Recruitment-Oriented Tasks

  • Set recruiting goals for underrepresented groups
  • Conduct a historical candidate application and data review
  • Seek tools for sourcing underrepresented groups
  • Work to eliminate hiring bias
  • Implement targeted recruitment events

Awareness-Oriented Tasks

  • Create employee resource groups
  • Celebrate diversity awareness months
  • Offer a diversity-focused speaker series
  • Host workshops

Community-Oriented Tasks

  • Engage in community partnerships
  • Research local community groups to partner with
  • Advertise community activities

Fostering a Culture of Inclusion

Inclusion means valuing diversity. At work, that translates to honoring diverse cultural and religious practices and appreciating diverse thinking. 

Workplaces can foster a sense of inclusion by:

  • Providing opportunities for employees to share and celebrate their cultural heritage
  • Funding diversity initiatives
  • Soliciting feedback from employees about what holidays/traditions/customs matter most to them
  • Collaborating with community groups to provide enrichment activities around diversity and inclusion topics for employees at all levels
  • Allowing time off work for employees to honor cultural and religious traditions

The bottom line: When organizations put effort into developing a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace, everyone benefits. 


Additional Resources

Recommended Readings

Inclusive Excellence
Trial Community Resources and Support
Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics