We’re all in this together. It’s become a popular catchphrase, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it takes more than mantras to create lasting change. As leaders, we make progress when we shift from pep talks to executing plays from the playbook.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the issues, these four simple practices have proven invaluable for leaders seeking to produce more diverse and thriving workplaces.
If you suspect your words or actions may be influenced by unconscious bias rather than your conscious values, one practical strategy is shifting the circumstances. Change the specifics of the scenario and determine if you still feel the same way. For instance, say you’re considering promoting a woman on your team, but the role requires rigorous travel and you’re concerned because she has young children. Flip the scenario: If this colleague was a man, would you be inclined to feel the same?
While it’s far from foolproof, a simple exercise like this can help decision makers take a more honest and humble approach to leadership. This shifts you from a place of defensiveness to a place of discovery.
Workplaces with diverse and inclusive cultures have become more profitable in some cases. Just how much? A Boston Consulting Group study reported that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. Not only is focusing on diversity and inclusion the right thing to do, it’s a profitable thing to do.
You can then craft a strategy to get to where you want to be. If done thoughtfully, this kind of transparency can provide valuable insights for your specific industry and local network, and also pave the way for effective goal setting. When goals are stated and shared out loud, there is built-in accountability and a higher likelihood of measurable change. Taking first steps toward this audit demonstrates intentionality and a desire to improve.
At an organizational level, intentionality may include more concrete steps, such as forming employee resource groups to help team members find a sense of belonging, hiring a chief diversity officer and empowering your diversity and inclusion leaders to swiftly address any actions that don’t align with company values.
Demonstrating a truly diverse and inclusive company culture is quickly becoming the new benchmark for organizational health and long-term success. While these four practices are far from comprehensive, you can improve your organization’s diversity and inclusion every day with consistent, deliberate practice.
Keith Noble is president of Commerce Bank in the Springfield region. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Springfield Business Journal’s 2023 Trusted Advisers event honors 20 businesspeople.