Are your Inclusion and Diversity efforts appearing superficial?

Almost every organization today organizes inclusion and diversity programs. But the question is, how many of those programs and efforts are actually contributing towards building and fostering a positive work environment? To make an actual impact, I&D efforts need to be planned regularly, should address causes head on, and should always communicate the 'whys' and the purpose behind the initiatives.

Inclusion and diversity (I&D) are the key terms of this decade! But they are easier said than done. With people all over the globe looking at organizations to see how their cultures recognize and treat people from different backgrounds and belief systems, it becomes crucial that your organization becomes a safe and enriching home for all employees. Especially since organizations unable to develop such a culture usually see lower employee engagement and morale, low to negligible employee advocacy, reduced trust and collaboration, and a lack of growth and innovation. 

This is why a strong inclusion and diversity program helps in bridging the ever-widening gap between your people. One that works towards building an environment that facilitates your employees to work in a progressive, empathetic, respectful, and inclusive manner each and every day. 

But a considerable amount of time, effort, and money go into making such meaningful I&D initiatives. And it can all go in vain if they are not implemented or communicated the right way. Even after organizations create policies, events, and training programs to raise awareness and educate the employees towards the working environment promised in their EVP.

And this is evident in the fact that 75% of (16000) employees surveyed by BCG saw that diversity programs were in place in their organizations but felt no effect of the same! This is why, employees often view these programs as skin-deep, good-image projects, which don’t solve the actual problems. 

But it is not a lost cause. Having worked with organizations facing similar challenges, we have identified a common thread of reasons that could also be making your initiative look superficial. Take a look!

1 day to rule them all? 

Organizations must chalk out year-round efforts on I&D with a supporting system in place to regularly publish stories internally. Because if your internal communication stops highlighting your organization’s efforts, you fail to create an environment that keeps this on top of the employees’ minds. And naturally, it tends to appear either overwhelming or superficial to communicate it only once, during IWD or any other I&D Days. 

Too apprehensive about addressing the cause?

The non-inclusive tendencies of the workforce today can appear like sore spots and can draw pushback or grievances from a portion of the audience. And if you are tentative about dealing with these topics, the output of your I&D initiatives can appear less impactful. What’s worse, you may misaddress or unadress the main cause of worry, further elevating the problem.

Is it never about the purpose?

Meaningful engagement comes from communicating the purpose behind the initiative and pulling your audience into the vision behind the I&D programs. 

But most organizations fail to account for this key requirement! And we have seen it happen on 2 levels. First, the program deployment has been passed down the levels so many times that the objectives have lost their meaning. Or, the objectives remain with the I&D leads who don’t feel the need to identify them in the communications.

Both can result in bigger problems ranging from miscommunication, lack of direction, and even an increase in conflicts! All because the team that is implementing the efforts and the employees who are seeing it in action don’t visualize the underlying intent. 

These insights clearly show that Inclusion & Diversity initiatives at your organization should not be about a few events or programs. Instead, they need to be purposeful, engaging, and well-communicated on a continuous and regular basis. Only then can they become a natural ingredient of your culture. 

Our belief that great employers and employees are already together leads us to believe that employers/ I&D leaders, in this case, do apply tremendous efforts to ensure the workplace environment is safe for all its employees. But these efforts should not be undermined by mere image issues. 

Chances are you have seen these problem areas in action. So don’t let these stop your organization from growing limitless. Because failing to do so will make you lose out on the opportunity to build a well-respected employer brand, with employees who truly connect with one another. 

Let us know if you have faced any other challenges in your I&D journey in the comments down below! And if you want to have a deeper discussion about the same, we are always up for a conversation!

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