It is a call for celebration that we are able to recognise and commemorate particular demographics on certain days and months. Scattered throughout the year, there is International Women’s Day on March 8th, Pride Month in June, World Refugee Day on June 20th, International Day of Older Persons on October 1st, International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, Human Rights Day on December 10th, and so much more. Since all of these demographics are still facing very real struggles and difficulties that we may not fully comprehend, the acknowledgement and emphasis on these populations help to increase the visibility of diversity and encourage communication for a more inclusive culture.
However, practicing diversity and inclusion goes beyond just a one day or one month affair. It requires commitment and action on a daily basis. Demonstrate your commitment to your inclusive values by incorporating good workplace diversity practices. But how?
Look within (Internal)
Although incorporating workplace diversity and inclusion does have very real economic consequences, being an ally is so much more than that. If you truly believe in the value of diversity and inclusion, then make sure your policies and actions reflect it. Be a vocal ally even when there is nothing direct that you will get financially. For example, introduce meaningful structural changes like parental leaves, flexible working schedules, or programs that support the minorities. Cater to the specific needs of your employees. Provide training sessions or knowledge sharing workshops to raise awareness of issues or perspectives that are not often highlighted. Put together focus groups from various demographics and levels in order to get a better picture of the needs within your company.
Since practicing diversity and inclusion requires a whole team effort, make sure that even those in senior leadership positions are kept accountable. You can create a diversity and inclusion board that looks into how you can become more inclusive or open to diversity in the different departments and levels. Design a developmental strategy with clear goals and steps to achieve it. By making it clear to everyone, from the entry level workers to the senior leadership team, what the goal is, you can work together towards it. Doing so demonstrates the company’s dedication to transforming the workplace into one that is truly diverse and inclusive.
Be reflective (External)
In addition to the internal structural and policy changes within the company, you should also be outwardly incorporating diversity and inclusion values. One way to do so is by making sure that you are representative. Have a makeup collection that actually caters to all skin colours. Provide electronics that persons with varying disabilities may use. Showcase various demographics of gender identity or sexual orientation within your promotional campaigns. Just make sure that you are not doing it in a way that puts attention and focus on what is ‘different’. Instead, do all of this with the future goal that these practices will become a norm. From product planning, development to execution phases, there are always options to incorporate inclusive and accessible actions.
Put your money where your mouth is (Partnerships)
Where’s the money going and being spent? Do they reveal your priorities and values? Walk the talk by donating money, extending support and expertise, and partnering with other companies, non-profits, or programmes that are putting the values of diversity and inclusion into practice. Make change happen from the grassroots level. Supporting these sorts of initiatives are especially helpful since you can better outreach and capitalise the specific knowledge of those organisations.
Transforming the workplace into one that encapsulates diversity and inclusion values is something that must constantly be a work in progress. By hammering at it through different facets of the company, such as internal changes, representation in the output, and support at the grassroots level, there can be a slow but sure shift towards a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.