All businesses that want their employees to reach their full potential should take action to create an inclusive workplace. “Inclusive” doesn't necessarily mean “diverse,” although diversity is important too.
This is the next step, ensuring that your company is welcoming to every employee. It incorporates an active process of change as well as an emotional outcome, driven by perceptions of belonging, fairness, feeling respected and valued.
Prioritizing inclusion can have a significant impact on any organization's bottom line. Globally, businesses are realizing that focusing on inclusion in the workplace brings a distinct advantage when it comes to achieving goals
This isn't something new – in 2016, Forbes emphasized the need for companies to meet the unique needs of the changing workplace by fostering an environment of openness and authenticity. The publication noted the importance of having staff who feel comfortable having dialogues about both similarities and differences.
Here are some reasons why prioritizing inclusion is worth the effort
Improving Performance and Returns
Recent research has found that companies who actively spearhead strategies for diversity and inclusion are 35 percent more likely to achieve above-average returns. They also saw performance increase by 31 percent.
This is partly because inclusivity often means greater innovation. With different backgrounds and different ways of thinking, you'll get different perspectives that can bring new ideas to the table and call out blind spots too.
It Reduces Absenteeism
When employees feel like they belong, they're more likely to be engaged with the company and its successes or failures. Engagement is a direct result of inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
This also reduces absenteeism rates as people feel more motivated to show up at work and put their best into everything they do. Employees who don't feel included or that their ideas aren't listened to won't be engaged which means they're going to do the bare minimum and take days off whenever they can.
Decreasing the Odds of Facing Discrimination Cases
Even if your company is diverse, that doesn't necessarily make it inclusive or immune to biases and subtle discriminatory practices. Having an inclusive workplace significantly reduces the chances of discrimination complaints or worse, facing discrimination cases.
Even beyond hiring, it's important to look at turnover and promotions to see if there are any patterns indicating discrimination. For example, managers might have a preference for promoting employees who are similar to them, which can be discriminatory.
Attracting Top Talent and Improving Retention
Obviously, disengaged employees who don't feel included are more likely to be looking for another job. There comes a point when they see no other option.
An inclusive workplace naturally has a better retention rate which can save a significant amount of money on re-hiring and training. The job market is very competitive which means a company that doesn't have an inclusive environment is also going to struggle to attract the best talent.
A Better Understanding of Your Clients and Potential Clients
When you have a diverse, inclusive team, it benefits your business internally as well as your clients and potential clients (or customers).
That's because you'll be better able to market your services and products to those from various backgrounds. Employees can also promote the business more effectively to those with similar backgrounds within your target audience.