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The Inclusion Journey: The Path to a Thriving and Diverse Workplace

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At Menity, we believe creating inclusive culture requires ongoing commitment, investment, and action from leaders and employees alike to create a workplace where everyone feels Seen, Heard, and Valued.

By bringing together people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, leaders can create a more inclusive and collaborative work environment that fosters creativity and new ideas.

Attracting and retaining top talent and boosting employee engagement and satisfaction - that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to promoting DEI!

But let's be real - achieving it can be challenging. That's why it takes a dedicated effort from leaders at every level of your organization.

Recent studies have shown that organizations prioritizing DEI have more diverse and inclusive workplaces and experience improved financial performance and increased employee engagement. Let's explore some of the critical leadership priorities in DEI, backed by the latest research and studies.

The role of leadership in creating an Inclusive Culture

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Leadership will play a critical role in driving diversity and inclusion initiatives forward. From setting the tone to modeling inclusive behavior, leaders will be at the forefront of change. Here are a few Leadership priorities in creating an inclusive culture we think to keep an eye on.

#1 Develop a DEI Strategy

Developing a comprehensive DEI strategy is one of the most important priorities. It includes setting measurable goals, tracking progress, and holding leaders accountable for meeting those goals. Research has shown that organizations with well-defined DEI strategies are likelier to have diverse and inclusive workplaces.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with the most diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. Society for Human Resource Management study found that organizations with a DEI strategy were more likely to have higher levels of diversity in leadership positions.

#2: Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

Another vital leadership priority is building a diverse and inclusive workforce. It includes attracting and retaining diverse talent, creating a culture of inclusion and belonging, and providing professional development and growth opportunities.

Research has shown that diverse teams are more innovative, make better decisions, and are more effective at problem-solving. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams outperformed homogeneous teams by 35%.

#3: Foster an Inclusive Culture

Finally, fostering an inclusive culture is another important leadership priority. It includes creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and supported, promoting open communication, and providing opportunities for employees to give and receive feedback.

Research has shown that inclusive workplaces have higher levels of employee engagement, greater job satisfaction, and better retention rates. A study by Deloitte found that organizations with inclusive cultures were more likely to retain diverse talent, improve customer satisfaction, and experience financial growth.

What are the most common obstacles leaders face when promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture?

leader sitting in office and thinking about obstacles

Research and our CxO hiring assignments over the last two years have shown that there are several common obstacles leaders face when promoting DEI and inclusive workplace culture. What are these challenges, and how can these challenges be effectively tackled to foster diversity and inclusion?

Unconscious Bias

One of the biggest challenges in promoting diversity and inclusion is overcoming unconscious bias. As humans, we all have biases that influence our perceptions and decision-making, which can contribute to workplace exclusionary behavior.

To overcome this, leaders can provide training on unconscious bias and encourage employees to recognize and address their own biases.

Lack of awareness and understanding

Another frequent challenge to creating an inclusive culture is a lack of awareness and understanding of what D&I means and why it matters. Some leaders may not fully grasp the impact of unconscious bias, microaggressions, or systemic barriers on their employees. Knowing where to start or how to take action can be difficult without this awareness.

To overcome this challenge, leaders can:

  • Educate themselves and their team on the impact of unconscious bias and systemic discrimination and how it affects employees from underrepresented groups.

  • Attend D&I training, workshops, seminars, or webinars to understand better best practices and strategies for creating inclusive cultures.

Lack of buy-in or support from senior leadership

Creating an inclusive culture cannot be done by one person or department alone - it requires buy-in and support from senior leadership. Without this support, initiatives can quickly lose steam and momentum.

To overcome this challenge, leaders can:

  • Advocate for DEI initiatives at the highest level and demonstrate how they align with the company's values and business goals.

  • Communicate the value of DEI initiatives to senior leadership and highlight the potential positive impact on employee engagement, retention, and innovation.

  • Share success stories and examples from other companies successfully implementing DEI initiatives.

Resistance to change or discomfort with new ideas

Creating an inclusive culture often requires a shift in mindset, behaviors, and attitudes. It can be uncomfortable or challenging for some employees who may feel resistant to change.

To overcome this challenge, leaders can:

  • Be transparent about the reasons behind DEI initiatives and provide clear guidance on how employees can participate.

  • Communicate the benefits of DEI initiatives to all employees, not just those from underrepresented groups.

  • Encourage open dialogue and feedback, and create a safe space for employees to share their concerns or questions.

Lack of employee engagement, participation, and sense of belonging

Creating an inclusive culture requires participation and engagement from all employees, not just those from underrepresented groups. Diversity and inclusion efforts might seem fake or insincere if people aren't actively involved.

To overcome this challenge, leaders can:

  • Create employee resource groups (ERGs) that provide a space for employees from underrepresented groups to connect, share experiences, and advocate for change. ERGs will play a critical role in promoting diversity and inclusion, giving employees a platform to share their experiences and perspectives.

  • Encourage cross-functional collaboration and dialogue between ERGs and other teams.

  • Recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of employees from underrepresented groups.

  • This can be achieved through mentorship programs, affinity groups, and inclusive language practices. Leaders can also ensure that underrepresented employees have a voice in decision-making processes and are represented at all levels of the organization.

The role of technology

Technology will play a key role in promoting diversity and inclusion, from AI tools that help identify and address biases to virtual events that bring people together whether they work from home, from the office, or anywhere in the world.

team of  inclusive young people

While creating an inclusive culture can be challenging, the benefits are clear. Research has shown that diverse teams are more innovative and effective, and organizations with inclusive cultures are likelier to attract and retain top talent. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, leaders can create a more equitable workplace and drive business success.

We believe that leaders who develop a comprehensive DEI strategy, build a diverse and inclusive workforce, and foster an inclusive culture can drive positive outcomes for organizations and create a workplace that supports the success of all employees.

Creating an Inclusive Culture is a Journey, not a one-time destination.

#inclusion #diversity #equity #leadership #DEIstrategy #inclusiveculture #inclusiveworkforce #unconsciousbias #awareness #values #belonging #employeeengagement #technology

The resources used in this article include:

Menity research suite.

Harvard Business Review: "Why Diversity Programs Fail"

McKinsey & Company: "Diversity Wins. How Inclusion Mattes"; "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion"

Deloitte: "Uncovering Talent - A New Model of Inclusion"

Forbes: "10 Inclusive Language Practices to Adopt Now"

SHRM: "Why Belongings Matter"

Catalyst: "Mentoring"

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