Building an inclusive culture isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes good business sense. Studies show that inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time, and they make those decisions twice as fast and with half as many meetings.
“Now is the time for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B) because employees are demanding more. Customers are demanding more. The planet is demanding more. The bonus is that it works,” said Baratunde Thurston, New York Times bestselling author and podcast host of How to Citizen, in a recent article.
That’s because when people feel included and like they belong, they want to bring their best to the table. Their satisfaction and increased performance shines externally with customers, which positively impacts customer relationships and the company’s bottom line. Any way you look at it, it’s a win-win-win.
Still, the road to a more diverse and inclusive workplace is different for every company. You have to start by defining DEI&B and what it means for you. What’s your motivation? What do you want to achieve? Why is this important? What’s your why? Really spend time thinking through these questions because DEI&B work is often hard work that will be driven by your why.
Next, it’s time to take action. A recent blog on Great Place to Work suggested four key steps to effectively building your company’s DEI&B plan:
Speak: Be clear about your intentions
For companies just getting started with building a strategy, the most important step is to ensure you and your senior leaders speak out about why it matters. Be vocal about your commitment to having a diverse and inclusive work environment. Explain why this is a strategic imperative to your company’s ability to be successful.
Listen: Understand the current environment
What are your employees’ current experiences at work? Do they feel heard? Do they feel included? Do they feel safe to be themselves? Do they see underrepresented groups involved in decision making, in leadership roles and in hiring and promotion decisions? Strong DEI&B plans focus on closing gaps that exist. This requires seeking a deep understanding of the current state by listening and gathering insights.
Learn: Use what you heard to build a plan that addresses key gaps and needs
Building a plan based on what you’ve learned is the next important step. This involves shifting perspectives to understand problems and find solutions. Your plan will have much greater credibility and can focus on the most meaningful actions when employees feel heard and the underlying causes of problems become clearer. Bringing people together to determine key focus areas, develop inclusive solutions and outline a measurable plan of action will accelerate improvement.
Change: Implement the plan by creating conditions for meaningful change
Changing is about taking action. It’s about choosing one or two meaningful steps to take and doing them well. All too often, companies commit to more than they can realistically accomplish, which undermines efforts and diminishes credibility. Essential ingredients for change include communicating your plan, providing regular, company-wide reporting on progress and asking for feedback.
At NAWBO, years of focus on DEI&B have led to it now being integrated into everything we do every day as an organization. To learn about NAWBO’s DEI&B commitment and actions, please visit our DEI&B page on the website.