There has been no shortage of important lessons to learn in 2020 but a need for more diversity, inclusion, and kindness will forever be one of the most important lessons learned. With countless individuals and businesses promising to commit to allyship, now is an important time to consider what actions companies can take to foster a work environment that is habitable to diversity and inclusion.
What Does “Diversity” and “Inclusion” Mean?
While the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” may feel like buzz words at the moment, these are important goals that all companies should prioritize on an ongoing basis. In regards to office life, diversity and inclusion refers to having a staff that represents a variety of backgrounds, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and lifestyles. While hiring a diverse staff is a good step on the road to inclusion, it’s important that a work environment makes all employees feel welcome, supported, heard, and as if they are receiving fair opportunities for professional growth. Physical or emotional safety being put at risk due to discriminatory behavior should never occur in the workplace under any circumstances.
Creating a diverse and inclusive work environment is not just the right thing to do morally, it’s also good for business. Having a staff that feels comfortable, appreciated, and safe is undeniably beneficial. Prioritizing these values can attract top talent, bring a valuable mix of perspectives and ideas to the table, and can help improve employee retention rates. And while financial gain should not be the primary motivation behind creating a diverse and inclusive workplace environment, on average, companies that fall within the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to see financial returns that surpass industry medians. For companies that hire men and women equally, they’re likely to see a 41% revenue gain.
Creating Policies That Reflect Values
Believing in diversity and inclusion is not enough to deliver real change. Formal policies must be put in place either through a human resources, or diversity and inclusion department, that all employees, including senior management and c-suite executives must follow. While anti-discrimination policies are nothing new, many companies have their legal team draft them, but don’t have a process for properly enforcing them.
Creating a well-crafted policy that addresses what the company’s values are and a plan for repeatedly making those values known to employees is a good starting off point. Ensuring employees that the company is committed to upholding anti-discriminatory standards and that whistleblowers will not be punished is of the utmost importance, because without that assurance employees will not feel the company’s anti-discrimination policies will actually be upheld. For example, the Human Rights Campaign reported that nearly half of LGBTQ workers believe that anti-discrimination policies won’t be enforced if they have a supervisor who is personally not supportive of the LGBTQ community.
How to Provide Fair Opportunities
Alongside hiring a diverse staff, prioritizing working with diverse vendors is important too. Working with a diverse set of vendors and company partners can help meet inclusion goals and establish a workplace environment that is welcoming to all. One way to ensure you’re working with diverse vendors is to pursue relationships with partners that have earned professional certifications that highlight their diversity. Certain certifications can signal to companies that they will be working with diverse vendors, which can help them meet their inclusion quotas. For example, as a women-owned and minority-owned business, Terra Translations is proud to be certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC is a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs) and by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC helps advance business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises).
Every year we work towards earning certification again to maintain our standing with these organizations and to ensure that we’re creating a diverse and inclusive working environment where every one of our team members feels safe and supported.