There is a growing understanding that diversity and inclusion are essential for the modern workplace. However, while many companies claim to support diversity and inclusion, they often misunderstand what it takes to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment. These issues require a paradigm shift in the way a company examines the character of the organization. Many owners who feel their companies are inclusive and diverse would be surprised to find that their employees don’t feel the same way.
Even when employees aren’t complaining, diversity and inclusion problems can still exist. Vulnerable minorities in a work environment may keep quiet about their concerns out of fear of retaliation. Business owners and HR teams must take a more proactive approach to improving diversity and inclusion, and look for potential issues before someone feels they have to speak up. Here are four warning signs that there could be diversity and inclusion problems at an organization.
Company Has Many Restrictive Rules
Business leaders should look at their corporate rule book to find opportunities to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive. When a company has a lot of restrictive rules, it inherently makes it a less inclusive environment. For example, rules about hairstyles, facial hair, tattoos, and other elements of your employees’ appearance can inadvertently make job opportunities less open to everyone. In some situations, these rules can’t be avoided for safety reasons. However, a company should examine these protocols to see if they’re necessary or if they could be relaxed to make the company a more inclusive environment.
Diversity Efforts are Only Focused on Race and Gender
Many people think of diversity and inclusion as a matter that only affects race and gender. While these minority groups are the subject of discriminatory practices, it’s essential to realize that the issue goes beyond race and gender. When a company has a diversity policy that focuses only on race or gender, it shows the organization isn’t as inclusive as it could be. If the strategy concentrates solely on race and gender, how does the company promote diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ community, for individuals with mental health issues, or the disabled? Inclusive means all of these groups and the company should strive to create a policy that makes everyone feel welcome. Getting help from a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant can make it easier to identify potential issues with your current policy.
Numbers Based Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Another sign of a company with diversity and inclusion problems is an organization that focuses only on numbers. Trying to have a representative staff isn’t a problem in itself. However, if diversity and inclusion are just boxes the company ticks off when they reach a certain number, their efforts are unlikely to be genuine. As was mentioned earlier, creating a diverse and inclusive organization requires changes to the culture of the company that can’t be boiled down to a numbers game. It’s fine to have diversity targets, but it’s only one part of the equation.
Lack of Diversity in Upper Management or Board
When a business claims to care about diversity and inclusion, you can immediately tell how sincere they are by looking at their upper management or the members of their board. It’s vital for the decision making bodies of an organization to have a diverse and inclusive membership. If the management team lacks voices that can show where the company can be more inclusive and diverse, their efforts will always be underwhelming.
Businesses can help spark a culture change in the organization by schedule diversity and inclusivity training for employees and management. Risha Grant has several courses that can help companies identify their diversity and inclusion issues and figure out ways to solve them.