Creating an inclusive work environment is not as simple as planning your strategy and then implementing it. It's easy to allow diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) to sit on the back burner when it should be a much larger part of your strategy. Instead of creating your strategy once, you need to administer regular inclusivity check-ins.
DE&I is crucial to business success
Before we talk about inclusivity check-ins, let’s chat about why DE&I is so important. There are countless studies and data on the importance of diversity at work. As we move in 2020, we all need to step up our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to better serve our employees. We also value diversity because it allows us to be seen as an excellent place for new employees to find work.
Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion isn't just about standing out anymore; it's about fitting in. When we don't value diversity, it can unintentionally create a hostile work environment for our employees. Instead of losing some of our most valuable employees, we should focus on creating an environment that works for them.
What is an inclusivity check-in?
An inclusivity check-in is taking the time to understand where your company is and where it could be when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Again, it's not about creating a strategy and never looking at it again. You need to examine how that strategy is working and start implementing fixes to make your company stronger. Real diversity isn't about looking good on paper. It's about investing in diversity at your company.
Get clear on where you are right now
Before you can make changes to your current inclusivity and diversity practices, you need to get clear on where your company is right now. By taking the time to do your inclusivity check-in, you can make strides in the right direction with your business.
Look at the surface-evel numbers and demographics
Before you get into the details, get a surface-level understanding of your diversity, equity and inclusion levels. This isn’t about creating a diversity tickbox – without looking at the surface level numbers, it can be challenging to see where you are.
Specifically, get the numbers on where you are, and then look at these across management levels. For example, you may find that you have a lot of women serving entry-level and lower-management roles, but the further you go up in your company, the fewer women you see. This kind of data is imperative to more fully understanding where you are and what you need to update as a company.
Use a survey to check in with your employees
After you understand the surface-level information, take your time to build a clearer understanding of where you are by using a survey to check in with your employees. Surveys can provide us with clear, nuanced information that a simple headcount cannot. They give us insight into the people who work with us and how they feel our problems can be solved.
Here are some tips for rocking your inclusivity check-in feedback form:
- Make it as anonymous as possible: It’s hard to create a truly anonymous survey, but DE&I is a sensitive subject for many people. You can remove things that might help you identify exact employees so they feel more comfortable sharing their honest opinions. Instead of asking for super-specific identifying information, keep it as general as possible with demographic questions about gender and department.
- Keep it short: When you build long surveys, you may see interest wane and completion drop. Keep the form brief, but effective.
- Remove the jargon: If you are interested in DE&I, you may know a ton of industry lingo or jargon. Be sure to break down questions into simpler terms so that you get the best results.
Utilize Culture Amp’s Diversity & Inclusion survey
You don't have to reinvent the wheel to check in on inclusion at work. Instead of creating a survey from scratch, consider using Culture Amp’s Diversity & Inclusion survey.
Greenhouse uses this survey to get a pulse on employees' feelings of belonging, and it's a great tool that’s easy to use. One of the best parts of this survey is that you can break your results down by department. Having information for all your employees is fantastic, but being able to break things down by department will help you pinpoint where you should be focusing your attention.
How to use the survey to create a more inclusive workplace in 2020
After you've done your inclusivity check-in for the new year, it's time to use that survey information to create a more inclusive workplace. Gathering survey data without acting on what you learn is a surefire way to build complacency among your employees. Why would they help you create a better company if they don't feel like you will act on their feedback?
Share survey results with your employees
Transparency is critical in any successful business. Transparency keeps your employees interested and excited about helping you with future surveys and ideas. If you don't share your survey results, no matter how small the survey is, you won't be able to convince as many employees to give their input the next time you host one.
You don't have to share every single survey result with your employees. Instead, gather the results and share your main takeaways with your employees. Don't bury the results in an email no one has time to read. Instead, share main points at the beginning of a company meeting. You could also have the manager of each department share them with their employees.
Sharing your inclusivity check-in with your employees is the perfect way to say, “We know where our problems are, we acknowledge them and we are making changes to do better.”
Implement important changes right away
Speaking of changes, some changes take time, so the time to get working on them is now. Your survey results may highlight things that need immediate attention or showcase some easy fixes you can implement today. If you notice any of these things, fix them right now. Waiting for later will only build more resentment about those issues, so create an action plan based on what you can do right now.
Have further conversations with your employees about what they need from your company
Based on your results, keep checking in with your employees about changes you want to make in the future. What ideas can they bring to the table to create a more inclusive environment at your organization? Practice the art of active listening and show your appreciation by implementing their feedback into your business and how you conduct yourself as a company.
Make checking in on inclusion a regular practice
If you want to focus on inclusion and diversity, this check-in cannot be a one-time thing. Instead, you need to make checking in a regular part of your business structure. You might decide to do a check-in once a year and implement what you learn year-round. Or you may decide that you need to check in with your team more often. However you choose to run your inclusivity check-ins, know that your organization will benefit from your focus on diversity.
Diversity, equity and inclusion can feel challenging to implement or improve. Your business will thrive when you make inclusion a part of your company’s best practices, and getting there doesn’t have to be a struggle. By implementing a regular inclusivity check-in, you can get the data you need to grow your business and create a more inclusive work environment for everyone.
For more information on how to elevate DE&I at your organization, listen to the Talent Makers Podcast featuring Dr. Salima Bhimani of Alphabet, as she explains that equity, diversity and inclusion isn’t static – it’s a muscle that needs to be continuously built.