Going beyond buzzwords, firms have to make concrete commitments and take small but real steps toward diversity and inclusion
Words like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ were popular buzzwords throughout 2022 and continue to be tossed around as businesses build out their 2023 plans and priorities. But they are so much more than words. These terms represent a sense of belonging – something that all workplaces should be striving for as we enter a new year.
Building a culture of belonging is imperative to an organization’s success, as it ensures that all employees feel a genuine connection to the work they do and the company they do it for. Employees will not feel empowered to deliver their best work – or to go above and beyond expectations – if their environment is not inclusive, comfortable, and safe.
So, when we talk about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion,’ we need to think more tangibly about what these words actually mean to us and our organizations. For me, the goal of a truly diverse and inclusive culture is for every single employee to feel like they are equally seen, valued, and respected for their authentic self.
This is a tall order that requires an ongoing commitment and an innovative and open approach from workplaces.
While a culture that fosters diversity, inclusion, and belonging is the end goal, it’s important to remember that it takes time to accomplish this. An approach that works for one workplace may not work for others and not all employees are comfortable expressing themselves the same way.
To understand and actively improve company culture, organizations should start by exploring a variety of approaches to seeking feedback.
For example, some organizations prioritize anonymous feedback, such as employee surveys, so employees don’t feel judged by the experiences and ideas they share. Others may take a more hands-on approach by conducting regular meetings between employees and leaders, hosting listening circles, or sharing regular, real-time feedback.
No matter how an organization chooses to elicit feedback, the most important step is acknowledging it and taking action to ensure your employees feel heard.
Building a Better Future Together
A culture of inclusion goes far beyond the walls of one organization. To truly create industries that foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging, organizations should share their vision with external stakeholders and customers and act in a way that aligns with that vision.
Networking and engaging with external stakeholders will expose blind spots and foster a community of learning, which will benefit every organization. This will also position organizations to remain competitive and innovative and serve their employees and customers with a more open and collaborative lens.
Celebrating Diverse Perspectives
If we all thought the same way and came to the table with the same ideas, the world would be a pretty boring place, as would our workplaces. Encouraging the perspectives of individuals with different experiences, both professional and personal, enables creativity and growth within an organization.
Furthermore, a culture that includes and encourages diverse perspectives, welcomes individuals to approach situations differently – and to build off each other’s ideas – often leads to more creative and innovative solutions. This not only empowers individuals at all levels across the organization, but also empowers the industry as a whole. Advocating for and echoing these unique perspectives will go a long way for others in the room as well. This will empower employees and encourage them to share their viewpoints, fostering a culture of inclusion.
At FCT, we strive to provide a culture of this nature. However, we understand that this will remain a work in progress and that it starts with small intentional steps that will lead to long-term change. We are aware that enabling employees to be authentic will be critical to the success of an organization and the industry it operates in. For this reason, we remain invested in continuous learning, soliciting feedback, and bringing diverse perspectives to life.
Vandana Paliwal is Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness at FCT.