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Diversity and Inclusion Practices to Adapt this 2020

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One thing that the previous decade has taught us is that the way we work before may not work out this time. With the advancement of technology and the shift that occur in the workforce, more and more organizations are keen to adopt new practices to stay on top of their games. We see companies undergoing organizational changes to come up with new strategies, processes, procedures, technologies, and culture. One of the aspects that they consider the most is diversity and inclusion.

A press release by the United States Census Bureau in 2015 predicted that in five years, the workforce will be composed of 75% millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) and they are already transitioning into significant leadership and succession roles. 44% of them classifies themselves as “non-Caucasian” which makes them 16% more diverse than baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). Generation Z or Gen Z (born between 1996-2010, following millennials) is projected to bring more diverse attitudes, 48% of them describe themselves as “nonwhite.”

This is one of the reasons why we see a trend where most organizations aim to have a culture and gender-balanced teams. They keep track of the number of male and female staff and even staff that is part of the LGBTQ+ community. They became mindful of how many Northerners do they have in the company and how many Southerners do they need to hire to ensure inclusiveness. They also consider people of different races, beliefs, and backgrounds. It’s not that they haven’t thought about this before, but the need to raise awareness about this matter became more relevant than ever.

Why is that so? Why is gender and inclusion so important?

According to a McKinsey report, organizations in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have 35% above average financial returns while organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity are more likely to have 15% above average financial returns.

This only shows that diversity and inclusion are, indeed, good for business. The uniqueness of each individual contributes to the overall innovation of a company which, in turn, translates to revenue generation. However, despite its advantages, many large companies around the world, including Microsoft, still lack diversity.

Discussions of diversity and inclusion are likely to become more serious this year and additional measures will be taken by many companies to ensure that. Here are some practices that you can start doing this 2020:


Integrate diversity in your business model

Most organizations see diversity as more of a compliance requirement and an ethical move. When you look at their mission statements, you will see phrases such as “makes best efforts to” and “commit to” which give the impression that the organization will do its best to achieve diversity instead of making diversity a mandate.

This year, companies are more than willing to diversify their workforce by including diversity as part of their business model. A great example would be Intel, an American multinational corporation and technology company. They announced the implementation of a new “Intel Rule” barring the company from partnering with any law firm with an average or below-average diversity score beginning 2021.

This may be seen as a bold move for Intel, but it only demonstrates that they’re taking diversity and inclusion into account very seriously and they’re confident enough to face any consequences it may present in the future.


Create a sense of belongingness for everybody

One of the people’s psychological needs is to have a connection to a certain group or organization. This makes a person feel like they can be themselves. This is important because this brings their best self forward which usually results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace.

However, we should keep in mind that this change takes time and it requires hard work to establish a diverse and inclusive culture for an organization to say that they can provide a sense of belongingness for everyone.

Tuning in to empathy is a crucial part of this process. One should remember a time when they were excluded, shamed, discriminated, and so on. In this way, leaders can easily internalize these feelings for them to have a better understanding of what it’s like to be left out. Leaders should listen to the people. To effectively empower the team, he or she should try to blend different workstyles, needs, and approaches into a cohesive whole.


Address unconscious bias

The University of California, San Francisco defined unconscious biases as social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Unconsciously, people hold beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases result in people’s natural tendency to categorize everything that surrounds them.

UCSF also added that unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and can be activated by certain scenarios. For instance, unconscious bias happens more when a person is multi-tasking or working under pressure.

Now, being aware of it is the first step. When screening CVs, conduct interviews, or give performance reviews, consider the professional merits of a person and make sure that decisions are objective and not based on prejudices and biases. Think of why certain people are entrusted with big assignments. Try to consider other team members with such assignment and provide them with training, resources, and tools that they needed to do the job. In this way, you recognize unconscious bias and address it right then and there.


Be more sensitive with terms used in HR communications

This may seem small for some but it has a significant effect on how candidates see your organization.

According to LinkedIn, language definitely matters. 44% of women who took the survey were discouraged by the use of the word “aggressive” in a job description. It’s better to avoid using genderized words or phrases like “likable”, “demanding”, and “supportive” to attract more potential candidates in the future. Again, by doing so, it incorporates diversity during the hiring process and it fosters a sense of inclusion in the entire workforce.


Inclusion should be an ongoing process

Breaking a bad habit isn’t easy so a seminar about inclusiveness and diversity is not enough to teach employees about its importance. A behavioral change such as this requires people to identify key moments that will help them build new habits. For example, organizations should set daily actions that can be practiced and measured. Equip people with the skills and information to help them champion diversity and inclusiveness in their departments. People should be able to adapt these ideas and beliefs into their daily lives for them to develop this new habit.


Take a look at your mentors now and then

Senior-level employees are great mentors in any organization. Everything they’ve learned and experienced will be passed on to the newcomers. However, senior-level employees have been with the company for so long, they might start to operate from unconscious bias. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with leveraging their wealth of knowledge and experience, but mentors should be open to new perspectives to drive innovation.

Of course, it’s quite uncomfortable to check your mentors without making them feel questioned. But it’s important to provide mentors with inclusive points of view. Remember, a truly inclusive mentor should be able to accept mentees with different sets of life experiences, values, beliefs, and mindset.

These are just some of the practices that your organization can start doing this year. Take a look at what you have right now and see if you’re already practicing any of these in your organization. If you have, then you’re off to a good start. If not, it’s not yet too late. We highly recommend companies to take some time to study diversity and inclusion trends very closely.  Re-aligning your business and people in building an inclusive and nurturing environment is far more important than anyone can imagine. Let’s all make a happier and more productive workforce by exerting more effort on diversity and inclusion and you’ll be surprised at how innovative and successful your business will become.

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