The concept of creating “the perfect place to work” is top-of-mind now more than ever. The reality is that wherever people are involved, things will never be perfect, simply because people are imperfect – and that’s okay. Although we may never have a perfect workplace, we can have workplaces that value diversity and inclusion and create a sense of belonging which in turn creates a healthy company.
Healthy companies need to be growing financially, and healthy companies need to have happy and thriving employees. Everyone wants to work for a successful company that is excelling at the top of its industry and is a great place to work at. But those things can’t happen, or are held back considerably, if a company is not diverse and inclusive.
Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand, and one can’t be shaped and transformed without the other being impacted too. Here are three key factors in determining whether or not a company prioritizes inclusion, and therefore, is healthy.
1. Inclusive companies have a sense of belonging.
When you include people regardless of their differences, then you make belonging a core part of your company. When people feel like they belong, then they are far more likely to be happier and better adjusted at work. According to the Harvard Business Review, when people felt like they belonged, there was a 56% increase in performance at work, as well as a 75% reduction in people taking sick days, and a 50% decrease in turnover risk.
2. Prioritizing diversity means more talent, more skills, and more experience.
When we exclude people based on their differences, we automatically eliminate a huge talent pool based on our own implicit biases. When we make an effort to include a variety of people and stop discriminating, we give ourselves access to a much wider talent pool – and we lift the ceiling off of our own limitations.
3. The best leaders are inclusive leaders.
According to this article, the actions and behaviors of leadership can make up to a 70% difference in how included employees feel. Additionally, how included an employee feels has a recognizable impact on employee performance.
These components of factors explain why we should value inclusivity – but the question of how do we ensure that our companies are actually being inclusive remains unanswered for most companies when it comes to disability.
One of the best and most effective ways to do this is to build out robust Employee Resource Groups within your company.
How can you do this?
- Make sure that you have multiple ERGs in your company – so that no minorities are excluded. For example, although disabled people make up 25% of the population, only 4% of DEI initiatives include disabled people. This means having a Disability ERG, a LGBTQIA+ ERG, a Neurodiversity ERG, an ERG for BIPOC / AAPI communities, and more. There should be a space for everyone – including disabled and neurodivergent people.
- Resource and fund your ERGs so they can operate successfully. This could look like giving them a physical space to meet, paying for accommodations, providing speakers or resources that they ask for.
- Listen to your ERGs. Find a platform, whether online or in-person, where ERG members can give feedback to team leadership and ask for change.
ERGs are an excellent way to get input directly from your employees on how the company can improve on inclusivity, while at the same time creating a space where employees can feel comfortable, heard, and included. It’s a win-win.
Do your employees want more flexible working hours? Are wheel-chair users finding it hard to move around freely in your office spaces? What does your team think about the company culture? Do they have too much to juggle with caring for a disabled loved one at home? These are the kinds of questions that can be answered with ERGs. It also gives team leaders the chance to show empathy and that they care. Even if company leadership isn’t able to address all concerns, they will now have the opportunity to help where they can and find appropriate solutions.
Inclusion is an important part of healthy companies. If you would like to learn more about how your business can be more inclusive and assist your disabled and neurodivergent employees, get in touch with us at email@example.com. We’d love to connect with you.