Demographic shifts in the U.S. population clearly underline how our future relies on fostering a genuine inclusive climate in the workforce. Many organizations’ top management teams strive to diversify their workforce and talk a lot about ways to promote an inclusive environment in the workplace. But the questions we need to examine first are, what’s inclusion? Why is it important to have an inclusive working environment? What are the benefits of an inclusive workplace? How do we create such environment?
Before we answer those questions, let’s examine the intersectionality between diversity and inclusion. We have diversity in our community which is not reflected in our public and private sectors. This means we have employees from different backgrounds, whether they be along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, accent, disability, mental health, economic status, education, etc. However, hiring diverse talent does not mean inclusion. The yardstick with which we measure company’s inclusive working environment are manifold. We look at whether we are allowing employees with minority backgrounds, women, and people with disability moving up the corporate ladder. Are they being promoted or demoted? Are their voices being valued or despised, their differences respected or disparaged? Are their ideas solicited or stolen without being properly credited? Sadly, some organizations and companies that hire a diverse workforce have yet to embrace inclusion.
Let us start with what inclusion means in the workplace. Unlike diversity, inclusion is a state where companies
- Ensure equitable access to resources, promotions, and opportunities for all.
- Create a fair, inclusive, equitable, healthy, and respectable climate where employees from different backgrounds could feel safe, respected, engaged, determined, and valued for who they are and for their perspectives and contributions toward their company, organization and community.
For our empirical knowledge and experiences, Filsan team realizes that inclusion entails two components:
- Employers are experiencing some sort of belonging where they feel that they’re valued, their perspectives respected and solicited and that
- They feel that their uniqueness is valued.
When employees feel like an outsider because of their uniqueness or difference, then the company fails to foster an inclusive working climate.
Importance of an Inclusive Working Environment
When companies are committed to promoting inclusive working behaviors, they witness their employees regardless of their differences report higher levels of trust, interactions, teamwork, excellent engagement and performance. Also, companies can reduce turnover and increase retention when their employees feel that their uniqueness and a sense of belonging treasured.