Building a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

While the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are finally getting the recognition they deserve, for many organizations, “how to do it” is not always clear.  An online tutorial series called How to Improve Diversity in Your Business gives step-by-step instructions on how it can be done. Here is an excerpt from the course:

· Create a structure: The structure you use depends on the size of the company, but you'll need to have something in place. The point is to make a commitment and dedicate time and resources to effecting change, so that your diversity policy goes beyond paper and becomes reality.

· Choose your focus:  There are many different dimensions of diversity. Do you plan to work on all of them at once, or to handle them one at a time so that you have more focus? A large company like Microsoft has the resources to take a broad approach, with seven major employee groups and over 40 employee networks working on different areas. At Envato, a smaller company they’ve decided to narrow the focus to what is manageable to the organization. Right now that means gender, LGBTI, mental health and unconscious bias.

· Build networks: The best way to help people overcome differences is to encourage them to mix in an informal or social setting. Setting up ways for employees to connect with each other can help in many ways. Informal buddy systems or more formal mentoring programs are ways to help employees feel comfortable in the company.

· Create clear anti-discrimination policies, and enforce them: If you are truly committed to a diverse workplace, you’ll want to go further. As part of the induction process for new employees, set very clear guidelines around what sort of behaviour is OK and not OK, so that everyone understands what’s expected of them, and what sort of support they can expect from you.

The balance of the tutorial includes the following strategies:

·         Get everyone on board

·         Be fair with company benefits

·         Accommodate everyone's needs

·         Welcome difference

·         Measure and monitor.

Training can also help your employees to get a better understanding of the topic. You can find some resources online, such as Project Implicit’s free online tests of implicit attitudes. EnvatoTuts+ is a massive repository of online learning, both free and via subscription. View the entire tutorial here.