Beyond Workplace Diversity: Culture Transformation

By Linda DeLuca, Executive Coach – Congratulations. You’ve recognized that workplace diversity is a competitive differentiator. Unfortunately, you only have half of the equation. To benefit from your team’s diverse perspectives, you need a culture of inclusion.

Risks to Avoiding Culture Transformation

Your organization’s culture — that system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs which governs how people behave in your organization — needs to transform along with the diversity of your team.

Attracting, recruiting, retaining, and developing team members from all backgrounds and world-views without a culture of inclusion is like assembling an all-star team, only to have them sit on the sideline.

Without an inclusive culture, your team won’t feel they can safely share their ideas, won’t feel they are valued, and will ultimately stop contributing to the success of the organization. When that happens, they’ll leave! You’ll be forced to start over finding and on-boarding new diverse team members.

Not only will you lose the competitive differentiator, you’ll increase your cost and impact productivity . . . all repercussions of failed workplace diversity efforts.

workplace diversityRecognizing an Inclusive Culture

Creating a culture of inclusion will support your diverse team so they contribute to the organization’s success.

Culture exists whether it’s conscious or not. It’s supported with the behaviors, artifacts, and lore within your organization. Your organizations’ processes, habits, stories, and rewards all reinforce your culture. What do your behaviors, rituals, and artifacts reflect?

In a culture of inclusion, everyone feels they are truly welcome, safe, and free to be themselves in the workplace. The inclusive culture embraces the different perspectives of the team. This value is reinforced within those processes, behaviors, and rituals.

Taking Steps Toward Culture Transformation

Do you have a culture of inclusion? You may think do, but your team is the best source of the truth. Through surveys, focus groups, exit interviews and other methods your first step is to understand your current culture by asking who on your team currently feels included and why.

Once you get a pulse on how inclusive your culture is, measure it against your expectations or to how you want your team to experience work. Remember, your organization’s culture reflects its values.

Finally, to close the gaps, start small. Many organizations fail at transforming their culture because they do too much at once. Because your culture is a reflection of your values, and your habits and behaviors are your values in action, it’s better to start with a few small initiatives. Start small, learn from the success and failures, and continue to make changes.

Fearless Leader Inclusive Culture

Inclusion and workplace diversity must be a goal of the organization or it won’t happen. Leadership must be open to hiring a diverse workforce and be open to others’ perspectives and input.

Though all employees are responsible for creating a safe and inclusive environment in the organization, the leaders will, through their behaviors, influence what is and is not acceptable.

Inclusive culture is a work in process. Always look for ways to improve how you attract, recruit, retain, and develop team members from all backgrounds. Remember, workplace diversity is only half of the equation. Make sure everyone on the team has an equitable and amazing experience as a team member!

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