Designing an Inclusive Company Culture

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 09/24/2020

You’ve worked extremely hard to build a team of qualified individuals that both represent your business and drive your growth. You believe in their talent and are proud of what you’ve built together. But when was the last time you checked to make sure you’ve got the diversity of talent your company needs?

Are you sure you have everything you need in your proverbial toolbox? Having one full of just hammers is going to be useless unless you’ve got nails. And screws, and levels, and safety glasses, and saws, and…you get it. When you hire a bunch of people with the same skills, the same backgrounds, and the same experiences, you’re selling yourself short and weakening your potential. The more diversity of thought, experiences, strengths you have on your team, the more successful your business will be.

But this can be extremely difficult! Often, we are attracted to people who are like us, with similar communication styles, habits, and ways of connecting. But this bias can get in your way and create a massive barrier between where your team could be and where it is now.

Ensure you’re putting an emphasis on protecting and nurturing diversity within your workplace by consistently and objectively assessing where your company is falling short and where it’s excelling. Doing so won’t only create a more inclusive environment for your current employees, but will help to attract a wider range of talent to your company. The following are some key areas of operations to consider.

How you depict yourself


Chances are, your company has a website and social media presence. Take a look at what demographic your online presence represents. Do all your photos depict the same type of person? Are the only photos representing people with disabilities directly related to content about disabilities? That’s problematic in itself.

The key is to choose photos and language that speak to the broadest range of people and not just to who you might think your customer is. Use your messaging to help build connection and understanding, reaching a greater variety of people and giving a voice and representation to traditionally marginalized groups.

The more people your brand speaks to, the more comprehensive the range of prospective job candidates and customers you’ll attract. Seeing is believing. The more diversity you use in representations of customers, employees, and leadership, the easier it will be for people to see themselves in those roles.

Recruiting


Creating an unbiased hiring process can be a difficult task. Everyone has biases, and it’s a challenge to remove it from any process where humans have to choose other humans. So how do you go about minimizing bias from your hiring process? There’s a crazy amount of information on this topic, but here are four of the most common points.

    1. Educate your hiring managers about bias. Give them opportunities to learn how to identify their own and other’s prejudices.
    2. Review your job description. Consider how you can eliminate adjectives that are associated with one gender, ethnicity, or body type.
    3. Standardize, standardize, standardize! Make sure you’re approaching each interview with the same set of questions and expectations.
    4. Consider using blind recruitment strategies. Try removing identifying characteristics from the hiring process such as names, age, education, etc.
    5. Internal assessment. Constantly ask questions to stay on top of your game.
      • Are my employees trained to identify their own biases?
      • Do we require qualifications that might not be necessary?
      • Is our ideal candidate defined? If so, what are the qualities that might be based on bias?

Leading with inclusivity is a constant learning process and not a one-and-done check on your to-do list. Prioritizing diversity within your hiring process takes regular evaluation and improvement.

Physical and communicative accessibility


Identify areas where you can improve your company’s accessibility to people of differing abilities.

  • How accessible is your workplace to people using wheelchairs?
    • Is your office equipment (printers, copy machines) accessible from a seated position?
    • Do you offer accessible employee desk space?
    • Does your office space have ramps and elevators?
  • Does your company offer alternatives to phone calls for people with hearing impairments?
  • Do the signs in your office have brail and raised lettering?

One of the positives to having made remote work available for many organizations is the increased accessibility those roles offer. If your company made this transition during the start of the pandemic, consider continuing to offer remote work opportunities long-term. Whatever you do to improve accessibility to your office, know that solutions are evolving and developing, so what might have been unattainable five years ago may be possible for your company now.

Lead with purpose


Take a look at your company: how many people in leadership positions are the same sex and ethnicity? Hiring and promoting based on sex or ethnicity is obviously unethical. But the demographics of your leadership team could give valuable insight into your promoting and hiring practices. Take pains to make sure that people with the same titles are paid the same amount. Take a critical eye to your company hierarchy.

When you’re evaluating where you can improve, the best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and your employees. Understand you can never learn too much. Set an example as a leader who is always willing and devoted to nurturing a diverse and accessible workplace. The better you become at it, the higher the potential of your workforce will become. Your culture will thrive with varying experiences, strengths, and points of view, and your company will follow.

 

Want to be a local employer of choice? Need help with performance management, employee turnover, and HR strategy? At Raffa, we work with businesses in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area to implement strategic employee benefits plans designed to position them as coveted employers of choice. Whether you’re looking to build a healthy team, lower employee turnover, or recruit and reward executive talent, we can help.   

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