EngagementDiversity & InclusionWhat inclusion means – at work, in lives and to leaders

What inclusion means – at work, in lives and to leaders

Discover how to define inclusion in your workplace, and how to make it work, with new research from the Limeade Institute.

Inclusion has never been more important for business leaders, and never more challenging. It is widely accepted today that greater inclusion improves business performance and boosts employer brand, while helping to attract and retain the very best talent with a diverse range of backgrounds. The status of inclusion as a business imperative is demonstrably clear in the changing structure of world-beating businesses – from 2018 to 2019, there was a 23% rise in the establishment of practitioners with Diversity in their job titles, with over 60% of CDOs having started their role in the three years prior.

A 2018 study by the Limeade Institute, as featured in Inclusion in Your Workplace, revealed that employees that feel included are 43% more committed to their organisations, driving productivity, positive feedback and talent retention, all of which have a resounding effect on the bottom line.

However, the meaning of inclusion, and the challenges within it, vary greatly from business to business. Is there a solution that works for all businesses?

One thing is certain – the top-down approach does not work

A top-down approach to inclusion, while a tempting best-foot-forward approach to improving inclusion in businesses of considerable scale, will not work.

Inclusion revolves around the day-to-day interactions between employees, managers, leaders, teams and peers. In other words, genuine inclusion relies on leadership support and grassroots energy.

Crucially, before you can improve inclusion in your organisation, you need to understand the basics.

How do we define inclusion?

According to Limeade, inclusion is a sense of belonging, connection and community at work.  Inclusive organizations help people feel welcomed, known, valued — and encouraged to bring their whole, unique selves to work.

Crucially, inclusion is comprised of 8 key components.

8 components of inclusion

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  1. Having a voice
    When employees feel like they “have a voice”, they’re more likely to share their opinions with others.
  2. Belonging
    An employee’s sense of connection to their company is built on belonging — the feeling that you’re a part of an environment that knows and values you.
  1. Sense of uniqueness
    Just like an employee needs belonging and connection, they also need to feel unique among their peers, that their company cares about their individual strengths and experiences.
  1. Feeling valued
    When an employee feels that their voice and unique self are appreciated, there’s a greater sense of value and satisfaction.
  1. Learning and development
    Employees who have access to learning and development opportunities know that their company cares — about their ideas, aspirations and growth.
  1. Collaborative environment
    Regardless of your role or department, a collaborative environment can help break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion.
  1. Access to resources
    Resources like support from managers or diversity and affinity groups help employees know their organization is committed to their well-being and growth.
  1. Strategic alignment
    Strategic alignment requires companies to explain why inclusion is important so that leaders, managers and employees can put strategy into action.

According to research from the Limeade Institute, companies who successfully adopt the above are six times more likely to anticipate change and effectively respond, and eight times more likely to see successful overall business outcomes.

But how can leaders make the eight components of inclusion a reality?

In Inclusion in Your Workplace, the Limeade Institute details several research-backed approaches to boosting inclusion, including:

Helping every employee to feel cared for

Care is an essential part of creating an inclusive workplace community. Effective methods to create a feeling of care include:

  • An optional online “town hall” meeting about an upcoming business decision or HR effort. When people feel commitment from you, they’ll reward you with their own commitment.
  • A random lunch partner program. Your people can meet new co-workers, learn about each other’s roles and ultimately strengthen the cultural ecosystem.

Creating a growth-oriented workplace

A cultural mindset of growth is hugely beneficial for the well-being of employees and the success of a business. A growth-oriented workplace can be achieved by implementing:

  • A cross-functional project or meeting between teams. Research reveals that peer-to-peer interactions are key to perceptions of inclusion at work, so extend everyone’s peer networks.
  • Regular check-ins with your managers and employees. As a leader, what are you hearing from your people? What’s not working, and what could make a difference?

These are only a small selection of the strategies available to people leaders striving to make their workplaces more inclusive. For more research, practical tips and incentives to kickstart an inclusive mindset in your organisation, check out Limeade’s free e-book Inclusion in Your Workplace.

For more information about how you can make real, inclusive change right now, visit Limeade here.

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