According to a 2018 McKinsey research, organizations with better diversity in their workforce enjoy greater value creation and profitability.
Companies with diverse and inclusive (D&I) policies are able to drive innovative results and attract a variety of talent.
Additionally, such companies outperform their competitors with a more homogeneous workforce. Many organizations these days are implementing diversity and inclusion strategies.

While the primary driver of such implementation is the financial performance, pressure from shareholders and government compliance regulations too have encouraged such strategies. If your company is planning to initiate diversity and inclusion strategies, here are the five best practices to do it the right way:

  1. A sense of belonging with optimal joy and connection

Working on diversity and inclusion takes time. Your organization needs to create an inclusive culture where everyone feels connected to a group of people or the organization itself. And once it happens, it’ll encourage creativity and greater engagement at the workplace.

Creating a more inclusive workspace often requires changes. For example, you may need to challenge traditional beliefs. However, it could make people fearful and react with distrust while staying glued to their narrow perspective.

The ideal solution is to reduce such fear and focus on the possibilities and potential improvements while framing or talking about challenges. For instance, shared experiences and storytelling could be great ways to encourage positive change. Your organization may even ask employees to write down their personal commitment to diversity and inclusion, which can be displayed at a prominent place to help them notice signs of their growth and celebrate them.

2. Empathetic leadership

It’s often believed that the HR department is the solitary owner of diversity and inclusion strategies. However, unless the organization’s leaders feel emotionally and intellectually connected to the need and importance of belonging, it’s almost impossible for real change to happen. That’s why it’s important for the leaders to step up and own D&I practices to make them thrive.

From making D&I practices their own, feeling aligned with them and having the clarity to clarify why they care, why it’s important, and why it occupies a significant place in their direct reports, leaders should be able to do them all. And such things can happen with empathy. Empathetic leaders can identify the feeling of being excluded or making others feel left out. And that’s a decisive starting point for designing and implementing D&I practices.

3. Encourage lasting change

You can drive compliance with top-down approaches, but they won’t work for commitment. To create an inclusive company culture, everyone from frontline employees to senior leaders must be committed to making the necessary changes, in addition to seeing and understanding the role they need to play in such a culture.

This involves recognizing differences in employee values and experiences across the organization to make change relevant for each person. To trigger lasting change, different parts of an organization must be activated in different ways. This means from bottom-up and top-down to middle-out approaches, all should work together to make D&I strategies a success.

4. Create favourable conditions for everyone to contribute

Focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts isn’t a one-day job. Rather, it should be continuous and consistent, where inclusion is promoted daily, and methods are designed to determine the impact. D&I strategies should be part of the end-to-end employee experience.

This means organizations must fine-tune their procedures to scale diverse and inclusive behaviours at every step of the way – right from hiring and onboarding to the everyday tasks, company culture, team-building, succession planning, mentoring, and performance reviews, among others. The key is to create favourable conditions to let every individual contribute in his or her unique way and feel safe while doing it. In case some situations don’t allow it, the leaders should be courageous to admit it and work to make the necessary changes.

5. Shift the focus to helping people thrive

Our society is often guided by power structures, norms, and inequities, which serve as key criteria to find people who ‘fit.’ This approach can seep into organizations too, where individuals who “fit” are hired, trained, and rewarded. But this approach can encourage exclusion. This makes it important to assess your organizations systems and processes to identify blind spots or sore spots that exclude, which can then be scrapped or changed. Doing this will require you to re-imagine your organizational mission, vision, and values, and define ‘fit’ to make it adhere to these aspects. Instead of focusing on finding the right fit, your organization should emphasize a culture where every individual can safely and freely contribute to do justice to their full potential.

Implementing D&I strategies also needs you to closely connect your company culture and brand to ensure the offerings you put out there showcase your approach and values. Diversity and inclusion need your organization to transform in more ways than one, and this can only happen when everyone is made a part of the process.

Thank you for reading,

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