I’d say we’ve all heard of the metaphor of the “glass ceiling”, right?
Here is a definition for those who need some clarification:
“Artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions.” – U.S. Department of Labor
The term became popularized in the 80s/90s where it was commonly used to describe the professional challenges women faced during that period.
Despite the advancements made in women’s rights since the 1980s, the metaphor of the glass ceiling is still very much valid today. Not just for women, but for minority groups and individuals as well.
Fortunately, we appear to be moving in the right direction when it comes to inclusivity in the workplace. 80% of employees consider inclusion to be an essential factor in choosing an employer and 69% of executives rate diversity and inclusion as an important issue.
But, what does it take to create a sense of inclusivity in the workplace?
In fact, what does inclusivity actually mean? And, how does it differentiate itself from diversity?
This Process Street blog post hopes to answer these questions (and more). Keep scrolling for an introduction on workplace inclusion and ten actionable strategies and metrics that’ll help to increase inclusivity within your organization or line of work.
Or alternatively, to jump to a specific section by clicking the links below:
- Understanding inclusivity and diversity
- 10 strategies to create an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace & their metrics
- Inclusivity in the workplace: Useful tools
- Inclusivity in the workplace: Further resources
Understanding inclusivity and diversity
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are often considered to be much the same, when in reality they are codependent and different. The concepts of D&I are co-dependent because without one, the other will not work properly – and they are different because, well, it is possible to be diverse without being inclusive.
“In simple terms, diversity is the mix and inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.” – Global Diversity Practise, What is Diversity & Inclusion?
Allow me to elaborate by briefly defining each of the terms:
Ultimately, inclusion is a sense of belonging.
Inclusion within the workplace involves an organization-wide effort to implement practices that ensure different groups or individuals from different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted, feel welcomed, and are equally treated.
These differences need not be evident on appearance and include an individual’s or group’s national origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion/belief, gender, marital status, socioeconomic status, educational background, training, sector experience, organizational tenure, and so on.
Diversity, on the other hand, involves respecting and appreciating anything that can be used to differentiate groups and individuals from one another.
In the working environment, diversity means embracing what each and every employee in an organization brings to the table. This can include their religious and cultural differences, perspectives, and work and life experiences.
The power of a diverse workforce is only fully reaped when these differences are recognized and the entire workforce learns to respect and value each individual regardless of their background.
By implementing processes to your HR activities, you can ensure that diversity and inclusivity are present in all of your tasks. Whether it be diverse onboarding, inclusive management, or regular surveys to encourage employee feedback – processes ensure that these tasks are completed efficiently and effectively.
Here at Process Street, we have created the following superpowered checklists to guide you through each of your HR processes. Use these checklists as they are or edit them to best meet your companies individual requirements:
- Diverse Hiring Process
- Diverse Initiatives Quarterly Improvement Process
- Diversity Management Monthly Audit
- Diversity Questions Survey
- Diversity Training Process
Along with the checklists, Process Street (start your free trial by clicking here) also provides a good example of inclusion and diversity championed in the workplace. We have a global team and the content creation team alone has people from diverse educational backgrounds, from Business, Biology, Development Studies, English, and Philosophy.
With D&I covered let’s take a look at 10 strategies and metrics you can use to create an atmosphere of inclusivity within your workplace:
10 strategies to create an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace & their metrics
1. Educate your leaders 🎓
Your organization’s leaders are instrumental in ensuring inclusivity. It is the leader, be it a manager, CEO, or VP, that is the face of any business not only for the customers but also for the employees. Therefore, a lot of pressure lies on them to prioritize inclusivity amongst their team.
Such an atmosphere will not only improve employee retention and morale, but will also help to draw in a diverse range of clientele.
Amex provides an example of inclusivity training: In 2018, Amex held mandatory training for people at the vice president level and above. The training started with the basics: what inclusion actually is and why it is important. The training consisted of small focus groups that discussed ideas for strategies to foster inclusivity within Amex.
Dianne Campbell, of Amex in Washington, D.C., explains that company inclusion is a top priority for the company. However despite this, she alongside other HR practitioners, often assumes that leaders know how to be inclusive – when, in reality, this is often not the case.
Fortunately, there are a couple of metrics that can help you measure the effectiveness of your leadership practices.
Metric: Customer diversity, inclusion, and loyalty
Description: Compare customer diversity with the internal, market, and industry benchmarks, and track customer experience, inclusion, and loyalty.
Strength: This metric identifies customer segments not sufficiently included in your business.
Metric: Supplier diversity
Description: Track the diversity of your suppliers by identity group. Track the extent to which each of these suppliers is included. For example, the frequency in which you use women-owned, or black-owned suppliers.
Strength: This metric is useful for ascertaining whether your commitment to inclusion is both internal and external. Ask yourself if you embrace inclusive values in every aspect of your business.
2. Introduce inclusivity at onboarding 🤝
Introducing inclusivity practices as early as possible is vital for two reasons:
- It shows employees who are going through the onboarding process that they are equal and included regardless of how they identify themselves (culture, race, identity, sex, social orientation, etc.)
Companies lose around 25% of all new employees within a year, with 20% of employee turnover occurring within the first 45 days. So, ensuring employees feel onboarded ASAP should be a priority.
- By introducing inclusivity at onboarding, your organization will be instilling the value of inclusion in new employees from the get-go.
Basically, it’s important to start things off on the right foot. Especially nowadays.
Because Millennials make up the largest segment of the American labor force and, if things aren’t working for them, they aren’t afraid to switch jobs. Ensuring all employees feel welcome and safe should be a priority for any organization that wishes to retain talent within their team.
Here are two metrics that can help measure the successful instillment of inclusion for employees:
Description: Compare the average retention of employees from minority groups to the average retention of the workforce of the dominant group.
Strength: This metric helps in identifying groups that may be feeling less included and therefore less committed to the organization. It also highlights groups that are more likely to terminate their own contract or have their employment terminated.
Metric: Exit interviews
Description: When an employee leaves your organization hold an interview with them to ascertain the reasons for their departure and their experience of working for the organization.
Strength: A good source of information concerning the lived experiences of each employee that chooses to leave your organization.
3. Embrace employee differences 🧜🏿♀️ 🦸🏻♂️ 🧛🏼♂️
I remember at school getting “Christmas” and “Easter” holiday. The schooling system in the UK ensured that term time was structured in such a way that these two Christian/Catholic holidays may be celebrated. Interestingly, there was no break in term time for Ramadan (Islamic), Diwali (Hindu), or Vesak (Buddhist).
Understandably, my school was very diverse and accommodating each and every culture, and tradition would be a challenge. However, in the modern-day working environment, this is a challenge that must be taken if employers hope to create an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace.
There are a number of things you can do to show respect for your employee’s culture and traditions.
Here are some ways to embrace employee differences:
- Potluck lunches where people bring in food that showcases their culture.
- Recognize and celebrate days that have significance to other communities, such as Black History Month in February, Pride Month in June, etc.
- Ensure that employees of various races, cultures, and ethnicities have a say in your organization’s decision-making process.
- Every employee carries with themselves the stigma of belonging from a community that faced some kind of discrimination. Make their stories known through an organizational publication to voice their opinions, ideas, beliefs, and any experience of prejudice in the organization.
Metric: Time-off audit
Description: Run an audit of your team’s time-off/ vacation calendar. Ask yourself if the vacations favour a particular social group/culture/tradition/religion? If so, change it.
Strength: Useful for evaluating out-dated policies and practices and becoming aware of unconscious biases.
4. Listen to all employees 👂🏼
According to research from the University of Missouri, we are on the whole, poor and inefficient listeners. In fact, the average person retains between 25% and 50% of what they hear!
Clearly, passive or distracted listening is bad for productivity but it is also bad for workplace morale – a team that feels unheard or undervalued will not work cohesively. It, therefore, falls on the leader to pave the way for creating an inclusive workplace where all employees feel heard.
Metric: Employee engagement
Description: Compare employee engagement scores for individuals from minority groups with the scores of individuals from majority groups. Keep in mind culture, gender, religion. and so on.
Strength: Useful for identifying which groups of employees are experiencing inclusivity in the workplace (and which are not).
5. Hold more-effective meetings🕴
Research shows that men are almost three times more likely to interrupt women than they are other men. And women often allow this to happen unchallenged.
To mitigate this, both male and female leaders should call out this behavior and ensure that the female workforce is given the same platform to express their opinions or concerns as their male teammates. If an interruption occurs, no matter to whom it is, it is essential that you as a leader stop the meeting, call up the person who interrupted and direct the conversation back to the person interrupted.
Listening and communicating interruption-free is so important that an app has been developed. The app which is appropriately named “Women Interrupted” specifically tracks the number of times women are interrupted by men in a meeting.
Description: Track the number of interruptions that take per meeting either manually or by using an app.
Strength: Helps to hold lead perpetrators of interrupting fellow employees accountable.
6. Communicate goals and measure progress 🥅
Metrics help to determine success and create accountability for the inclusivity tactics you implement within your organization. This post is proof in itself of the value metrics can bring to measuring inclusivity within the workplace.
Let’s take a look at the metric for pay and benefits below for an example:
Metric: Pay and benefits
Description: Compare financial and non-financial rewards earned by individuals from monitored groups to financial and non-financial rewards earned by individuals who are not members of a monitored group.
Strength: Useful for identifying bias in compensation and reward schemes.
The metric above provides valuable insight into the progress being made towards the goal of equal pay and benefits schemes. Employers can use the results of this metric to take steps to ensure equal pay amongst all employees.
7. Rethink policies 🧠
This point plays into the previous metric: measuring pay and benefits.
How do they tie in together? Policies are what determine who gets paid what and why.
We’ve all heard of the gender pay wage gap, right? … Yes, it still exists. An analysis of data taken in 2018 from the Census Bureau shows that women, of all races, earned on average just 82 cents for every $1 earned by men of all races.
Creating an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace may mean that you need to create new policies or abolish out-dated and exclusive ones entirely. When creating new policies ensure that an employee’s pay is set based on their skill-set and job title. Gender, race, and sexual orientation should not be a part of the equation.
Here are some metrics that can help you model your company policies for a more inclusive workforce:
Metric: Employer brand
Description: Compare the quality and strength of your employer brand among different identity groups.
Strength: Helpful for identifying recruitment barriers.
Description: Comparing the number of applicants for open positions from monitored groups against the potential pool of applicants from monitored groups or labor market representation.
Strength: Useful for identifying barriers to entry for different groups, pipeline issues, and narrow or biased recruitment efforts.
8. Make pronouns matter 🗣
Pronouns are used as part of everyday conversation by each and every one of us. A pronoun is a word that refers to either the person talking “I”, “you” or “they” or, someone/ something that is being talked about: “she,” “it,” “this,” and “them”.
There are also gender pronouns “she”, “her”, “hers” and “he”, “his”, “him”. When it comes to gender pronouns it is important to remember that the way we interpret or read a person’s gender may not be a correct interpretation of the person’s identity.
“Because gender identity is internal — an internal sense of one’s own gender — we don’t necessarily know a person’s correct gender pronoun by looking at them.” – Human Rights Campaign, Talking About Pronouns in the Workplace
Proper use of pronouns should be a priority for all employers who value inclusivity in the workplace. The experience of being misgendered can be upsetting and hurtful for employees and misgendering someone (be it by accident or not) can be embarrassing for all those involved.
A key thing to remember when it comes to gender pronouns is that gender identity is not visible. It is rather an internal sense of one’s own gender.
As you’d imagine, this is a personal subject and is perhaps not an appropriate situation to embody the use of metrics. Why? Because employees are entitled to withhold this information should they wish, and if they were to do so the data that the metrics produce would be inconclusive.
Instead of metrics, here are some actionable ways in which you can offer up and ask your employees for pronouns:
- During the interviewing and onboarding process, present a place to offer a preferred name and/or pronouns.
- Encourage employees to self-identify themselves with their preferences on social channels such as Slack and Zoom. Be sure to check their preferences and take note.
- Consider making personal pronouns part of the introduction process. For example, if I were to introduce myself, I would say “My name is Molly, I work in Marketing. My pronouns are “she, her, hers”.
9. Be aware of unconscious bias ❌
Unconscious bias is a social stereotype about a certain group of people or persons that individuals form outside of their own conscious awareness.
Unconscious bias can lead to people feeling excluded and discriminated against. This in turn can lead to employees being less productive and unengaged. It also impacts an employee’s development within an organization and can influence their opportunities for growth. This is why it’s vital for organizations to address unconscious bias in order to develop and maintain an inclusive workforce.
In 2018, A Starbucks employee committed an act of racial discrimination in one of the Starbucks cafés against two African American men. In an attempt to stop this from happening again, the company closed its 8,000 US coffee shops for a day of unconscious bias training, which was attended by roughly 175,000 Starbucks employees.
While unconscious bias workshops, like the one hosted by Starbucks, are beneficial – it is better to mitigate unconscious bias before an incident, such as the one mentioned above, can occur.
A good place to start is by employing a diverse workforce and ensuring that all employees feel included. Any employee with unconscious biases will soon start to make them heard when working with people who they hold biases against. This will then create space for employers and leaders to deal with the issue.
Be proactive, rather than reactive.
Description: Percentage of employees from minority groups compared with competitors or market/ industry benchmarks.
Strength: Useful for identifying groups that are underrepresented in your organization. This underrepresentation can come as a result of unconscious or conscious bias, prejudices, stereotypes, or discrimination.
10. Integrate inclusion strategies throughout all tasks 🗂
An atmosphere of inclusivity should be present throughout all tasks and processes within an organization. Whether it’s recruitment, training, performance management, or leadership assessment, inclusion should be a priority in each of these stages.
There are various ways in which you can ensure that inclusion is present in each of these stages. These include:
- Including training and workshops, which educate employees on things like unconscious bias, different cultures, and so on.
- Conduct a structural evaluation of the workplace in terms of facilities and the general work environment. For example, you could ensure that there are non-gendered washrooms.
- Install open communication channels to allow space for employees to voice their opinions and concerns.
Description: Tracking how employees develop and progress within an organization. Track which employees partake in training and other learning and development activities.
Strength: This metric is useful for identifying bias within development practices.
And that’s your lot.
By now you should feel well equipped with metrics and strategies to increase inclusivity in the workplace. Below I have included a list of useful tools and resources. If you can think of any other tools or strategies that help to create and nurture inclusivity add them to this post by commenting in the section below: 👇🏼
Inclusivity in the workplace: Useful tools
- Women Interrupted: I already touched on this app. Women Interrupted measure the number of times a woman is interrupted by a man in a meeting. Follow them on Twitter @WomanInterruptd
- Blendoor: Designed to help eradicate bias in the recruitment process. Follow them on Twitter @blendoor
- PowerToFly: Connects women with established companies and fast-scaling startups that prioritize and value gender inclusion and diversity. Follow them on Twitter @powertofly
- Adalab: This is a platform that trains women who have previously faced unemployment or job insecurity in useful tech skills. Follow them on Twitter @Adalab_Digital
- Emerj: Addresses the impact of unconscious biases that can hold a young professional back from connecting with coworkers. Follow them on Twitter @getemerj
- Work Wide Women: A social platform designed to teach women web development and tech skills. It also matches women with appropriate companies. Follow them on Twitter @WorkWideWomen
Inclusivity in the workplace: Further resources
- 60+ Essential HR Processes for All Human Resource Teams (Free!) – This is the real bounty. This blog post introduces 60+ HR processes and explains how you can put them into use in your organization.
- Plan for Success With 11 Free Human Resource Planning Checklists – 11 checklists that help to fine-tune all HR planning processes.
- The Difference Between Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (and how to excel at it all) – This takes inclusion and diversity one step further and introduces the value of accessibility to the mix. Read the post to get clued up on the differences between each of these values.
Don’t forget to comment on any useful strategies or tools you use to increase inclusivity in your workplace! Reply to this post in the comments section below.👇🏼
Hey, I'm Molly, Junior Content Writer at Process Street with a First-Class Honors Degree in Development Studies & Spanish. I love writing so much that I also have my own blog where I write about everything that interests me; from traveling solo to mindful living. Check it out at mollystovold.com.