As a business owner, you want everyone on your team to feel included and respected. But creating an inclusive workplace means more than hiring people from diverse backgrounds. It requires creating an open and safe company culture where people communicate with respectful language, various perspectives and contributions are honored, and everyone feels equally involved.
We’ll explore how you can promote diversity in your organization, adopt inclusive communication practices, and increase employee trust and commitment.
After committing to inclusive communication in the workplace, business owners must get all employees on board. When your employees are committed to diversity and inclusion, they’ll be open to examining their behavior and making necessary changes.
Once everyone’s on board, here are some concrete steps to take:
It’s crucial for employers to provide effective diversity and inclusivity guidance, training, and tools to everyone in the organization. Here are some possible training topics:
Morgann Freeman is an entrepreneur, activist and founder of The Collective, a local network of professionals and advocates. Using her background in marketing and advertising, Freeman runs an inclusive communications consulting business to improve how companies interact with their employees and clients.
“I focus on changing the way we approach how we talk to and interact with – verbally and nonverbally – one another in personal, organizational and global contexts,” Freeman said.
Businesses like Freeman’s offer diversity and inclusion workshops and training, which help a company understand diversity through daily interactions. Rather than providing textbook definitions of complicated concepts, she helps business leaders understand better listening and speaking techniques.
“True progress happens by changing the way you talk about things,” Freeman said. “You cannot be an inclusive organization when you use exclusionary language.”
Employees should acknowledge their unconscious biases, genuinely listen and dismiss their preconceived notions. By understanding their cultural biases and altering their language, employees can better understand and communicate with those from different backgrounds, especially for the benefit of the company and its services.
“Stripping away … the ‘us vs. them’ mentality allows your team to really build an empathetic understanding of diverse identities,” Freeman said.
Microaggressions are subtle insults, which may be intentional or unintentional. They’re also a pervasive problem in many workplaces. Regardless of employees’ intentions, these comments can create a tense and exclusive environment not welcoming to colleagues. To reduce microaggressions in your business, invest in company education to discuss diversity in a productive atmosphere.
Inclusive communication is also crucial when dealing with your customers. Freeman pointed out that inclusive communication should inform your customer service channels and how your business interacts with audiences over social media. For example, you should have inclusive communication policies surrounding how your business responds to comments on Facebook or mentions on Twitter.
If you can improve communication, your business has the potential to increase and expand audiences while maintaining customer satisfaction from existing clients. These techniques can also improve employee happiness, office morale and staff relationships, Freeman noted.
Diversity in the business world is an ongoing conversation in U.S. society. Entrepreneurs and small business owners from marginalized backgrounds – including those related to race, socioeconomic class and gender – face more challenges when starting their own businesses. This is especially true in less-diverse areas of the United States, like the Midwest.
Fortunately, diverse business owners have resources to help them succeed. Here are two examples:
Diverse and inclusive companies are growing worldwide, integrating various skills, abilities, genders, races, and ethnicities to create a safe and supportive environment for all.
While becoming diverse and inclusive is the right thing for businesses to do, customers also respond to businesses that take on more social responsibility. Top-level companies that support racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have improvised financial returns, according to McKinsey. Per data from The Manifest, companies that prioritize diversity are also 70% more likely to attract top talent and boost employee retention.
Adryan Corcione contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.