Inclusivity is talked about so much, and in so many terms–which remain both broad and specific. Yet, it still remains a fertile, buzz-worthy topic. There is no shortage of new ideas regarding it that aren’t generated regularly. More so than ever, when we talk about the pillared areas of conversation, like workplace, culture and organizations. It has always been and continues to remain a vital part of the talk that surrounds all of those.
A healthy work environment believes in understanding, accepting and valuing the behavioral patterns of the workforce. And having an inclusive and diverse workforce is the key to foster a positive, as well as engaging one. Inclusivity at the workplace has gained immense traction and is no longer just an ‘HR program’. In fact, embracing inclusivity in the workplace has turned to be more of a business strategy–one that helps them achieve new heights through enhanced productivity and functioning.
Post COVID-19, as there is an increased focus on getting organizations back on track to their possible best, inclusivity is all set to be key in ensuring healthy workspaces. After all, it is, even on a surface level, something that is vital to an organizations’ most important aspect–its people. But it goes beyond just hiring people from the diverse spectrum and more into the realm of bringing benefits and value additions to organizations.
How? Let’s explore.
Removing Implicit Biases
Having an implicit bias is a natural, and unfortunate side-effect of having, well…diversity. People are different and are inclined to view others from different lenses. These biases, described as “involuntarily generated assumptions” in the blog Brand Growth Inspiration, can be based on multiple aspects, which may include–race, ethnicity, gender identity, social group or religion. The goal of an inclusive environment is to eliminate these and provide a fertile ground for its people to do their best work.
When everyone feels included, and barriers are removed–there is a significant boost to some of the most crucial skills that employees bank on in an organization. Overall, employees experience a boost in creativity, productivity, empathy and clear, logical decision-making that adds to their leadership capabilities.
Incorporating an Accepting Ethos
Inclusive design has done well for businesses because for them it was like a prerequisite to the design, rather than being an afterthought. It gives rise to a platform for the diverse workforce, to learn, grow and represent themselves for the good of the company. It is said that there is ‘unity in diversity’–and inclusive design strategies help channelize this unity in the right direction. A change in design approach can go a long way in helping brands achieve inclusivity at the workplace. Let’s explore how.
The first step starts with ensuring at the user touch-points at ingress and egress are feasible to all, especially for a diverse workforce that includes people of varied age groups–and physical and mental abilities. Designing ergonomic and universal design elements at these touch-points is a great way to ensure inclusive design. Secondly, agile spaces and leisure zones can help workplaces be more malleable to Millennials and Generation Z. In the long run, this helps accommodate them–and their points of view, of course, to work-life.
All of this, alongside paying attention to both physical and mental health–with proper acoustics, ambient lighting, and ventilation–alongside procedures for noise control, light and air pollutants, adds to the safety and security of the place.
Improving Financial Performance
Inclusivity, which puts a clear focus on employee engagement above everything else and increases their output intrinsically, is bound to have a positive effect on an organization’s revenue. When a diverse set of employees is engaged, the path to profits and revenue generation is easier, clearer and more visible. As noted in a survey by McKinsey and Company for their 2017 data set– top-quartile companies on executive-level gender diversity worldwide, outperformed their fourth-quartile industry peers by 21% on the EBIT margin. Not only that, they also stood a 27% chance of outperforming fourth-quartile peers on long-term value creation.
Furthermore, a 2018 Deloitte management study calculated that organizations with an inclusive company culture are 2x likely to exceed financial targets, 6x more likely to innovate and 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes. The proof, as always, is in the numbers in this particular segment.
An organization’s adaptability and readiness to transform is vital, and one of the most discussed aspects regarding its future and growth. And since employees form the cornerstone of the culture, there is a need to keep them engaged, motivated and determined for a long time–which overall leads to the organizations achieving growth collectively. It is much easier to navigate challenges, pivot and cross boundaries together than it is to do individually.
Organizations have had a history of achieving major transformations and turning their fortunes around using inclusivity. One of the most famous cases in recent times is that of Qantas. Deloitte identified that the Australian airline went from posting a record loss of AUD$ 2.8 billion in 2013–to a record profit of $850 million in 2017 and an operating margin of 12%. With CEO Alan Joyce crediting it to a “diverse environment” and an “inclusive culture”–which overall got them through “tough times” and “generated better strategy, better risk management, better debates and better outcomes.”
Inclusivity is ultimately what the organization is all about–the people. The need is to not just embrace it as a running practice–but make it a part and parcel of culture through its ethos and spirit. It’s a positive force that helps not just the organization come out on top, but also the employees, the leaders and the customers as well. After all, we’re all in on this together, so it’s about time we started acting the way too, as well.
Related read: An Introduction to All-Inclusive Design