When discussing corporate diversity and inclusion, it may be tempting to focus on demographics and other measurable statistics. However, a far less obvious factor may be the most critical: company culture. For a company to be inclusive and diverse, the underlying culture must be welcoming, openminded, and flexible. So, what exactly makes culture so important?
In its essence, a company's culture reflects its core values. If a business truly cares about equality, it will be reflected in its practices and expected from its employees, not just discussed in press releases. The foundation of corporate diversity is simply choosing the correct values and making those values the guiding principles of your organization. However, identifying key ethics for your company is just the starting point.
Your company's values must be translated into goals and practices for them to matter. For example, if you place importance on open-mindedness, then creating a policy where those with differing views are invited to speak without fear of ridicule or retribution would be a way to enact corporate principles meaningfully. Similarly, setting goals for diversity can be a great way to stay engaged in working towards a more inclusive company.
One of the most vital steps in creating a supportive company culture for diversity and inclusion initiatives is getting employee buy-in. We don't want employees and leaders to see diversity as an obligation; rather, diversity should be something that everyone welcomes as a way to strengthen the company and create a more dynamic, vibrant workplace. Education and diversity training can help employees see the benefits of an inclusive workplace. Implementing a mentoring program is another excellent way to build a collaborative culture and provide individuals from more disadvantaged backgrounds with the support they may need to overcome obstacles.
In addition to implementing diversity-friendly practices, it is also essential to evaluate any current practices and remove those that no longer serve your company's goals. By clearing out antiquated methods, you can focus your company's energy on new initiatives and create real change and progress. A review of past practices can also yield vital lessons, as businesses can see what did and didn't work and adjust future strategies accordingly.
Every company has a culture, whether or not they actively seek to influence it. Increasing openness to and support of D&I strategies is just one benefit of a healthy company culture. When companies actively seek to cultivate an encouraging, flexible, and accepting environment for their employees, they provide their employees with a better work experience and increase collaboration, innovation, and productivity.