While diversity is the mix (of people, talents, backgrounds), inclusion is making the mix work.
But how do you know if the mix is working? The first part of this journey is to do some self-reflection. Think of a time when you were a part of a group that worked for you. What did it feel like? What were you able to accomplish? Are you still in contact with those individuals?
For me, one great example was doing recovery work in Louisiana after Hurricane Rita. I lead a group of college kids during an alternative spring break. Along with other adult leaders, we spent the week helping the people of Louisiana rebuild. We only spent seven days with each other, and yet 15 years later, I’m still friends with many of them. Being a part of a group where you feel included is powerful.
In contrast, think of a time where you didn’t gel with a group. How did that feel? How quickly did you want to leave?
In our businesses, when we create a mix of inclusion that works, it is powerful.
One of the most challenging moments for any employee is their first day. However, Gallup found employees who have a best friend at work are 7x likelier to be engaged at work. As a result, some companies address first-day jitters by giving new hires a “buddy” as a part of their onboarding programs. But, of course, buddy relationships can also feel like an awkward first date (which should be avoided at all cost).
Places like Growth Engineering call their buddy system “Awesome Allies in Action.” Their new team members are paired up with an existing team member. They make their meet-ups engaging and fun. They use their in-house social learning platform the provide polls, quizzes, and virtual badges. Buddies often meet up before the first day, share the best places to grab lunch, and share company culture like dress-down Fridays.
Interested in exploring a buddy program? Check out this playbook and get started!
LEAD THE WAY
Sometimes we all sit back and wait for someone to lead us. Why not you? Yeah, you. You can lead. Inclusive leaders focus on creating an environment where diversity and inclusion are the focus. They make a personal commitment to this space. They are also courageous, curious, and collaborative.
You can be this kind of leader. Deloitte, a longtime leader in corporate diversity measures, states inclusive leaders display the ability to embrace individual differences and potentially leverage them for competitive advantage.
Knowing if you have the right mix is one of the most challenging things to figure out. Employee feedback is a helpful way of measuring inclusion which can be gathered through surveys (proactive) or during exit interviews (reactive).
In a recent study in the Harvard Business Review, found there are seven critical dimensions of inclusion in workplaces including: fair treatment, integrating differences, decision-making, psychological safety, trust, belonging, and diversity. The Gartner Inclusion Index allows organizations to confidently ask just seven questions to get a holistic view of inclusion from their workforce. (Statements can be found here)
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