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6 Steps to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace


Learn what you need to do today to increase and maintain diversity and inclusion in your workplace.

Inclusive leaders are critical for increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Inclusive leaders are critical for increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. At the upper- management level, they define the culture of the organization and ensure diversity and inclusion goals become reality. At the middle-management level, they increase diversity and inclusion throughout day-to-day interactions, whether they’re improving engagement and retention or creating teams where all employees feel they’re supported, respected, and valued.

Read our article, “The Journey to Becoming a More Inclusive Leader” to learn more about how you and others in your organization can be inclusive leaders.

4. Structural inclusion: increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace by removing systemic bias

What’s the best way to increase diversity and inclusion in your internal talent pipeline? You need to level the playing field so that everyone has an equal opportunity to move to the next level up. This is the only effective method for diversifying your talent pool in the long term.

Creating a level playing field requires concerted effort. First, you need to examine your talent processes at a systemic level. Are they fair and equitable? What barriers or biases might be holding underrepresented talent back? Then you need to reshape your talent systems according to the principles of inclusive design. The aim is to achieve what’s known as structural inclusion.

Here are some steps every organization can take to increase structural inclusion:

  • Enact policies to ensure that no one is favored or unfavored on the basis of who they are
  • Conduct equity audits of your talent processes including talent acquisition, onboarding, development, advancement, succession, pay and rewards to unearth disparities and inequities
  • Design talent systems based on the needs, wants and aspirations of the most excluded user
  • Make talent systems work for the exception, so you end up with a better design for all

For a comprehensive guide to structural inclusion and diverse leadership development read “Rejecting the Reference Man”.

5. Behavioral inclusion: increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace by mitigating unconscious bias

Maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace is everyone’s responsibility, and every leader and employee can take part by practicing behavioral inclusion.

This isn’t just about understanding the biases that hamper decision-making. It’s also about building the skills needed to mitigate those biases and take inclusive actions and decisions on a moment-by-moment basis.

Here are some of the ways you can increase behavioral inclusion in the workplace:

  • Facilitate workshops that enable individual contributors, managers, and HR practitioners to unearth their unconscious biases and then interrupt them
  • Address issues of power and privilege related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and other factors
  • Equip managers, including senior executives, to lead their teams inclusively and unleash the collective genius of their entire teams
  • Design high-impact career advancement programs that address the specific issues that underrepresented individuals face.

For more on behavioral inclusion, read our article “4 Steps to Building an Inclusive Organization.”

6. Driving change: increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace through effective change management

No organization can increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace overnight. To ensure your strategic and programmatic interventions work and stick, you need to take a longer-term approach to managing change.

Here are some of the ways you can drive and sustain changes in your workplace:

  • Prioritize what you need to do to make change happen
  • Facilitate dialogue and difficult conversations
  • Determine the key metrics to track and measure outcomes of diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Develop a communication strategy and plan that incorporates listening channels and feedback loops
  • Establish trust, belonging, and high performance

Conclusion: increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a team effort

Increasing diversity and inclusion is a major challenge. The good news is, you don’t have to tackle it alone. Working with a trusted partner can help you get to the root cause of your diversity and inclusion issues faster. It also brings an objective, outside perspective to your organization, which is critical if you’re looking to develop innovative solutions.

Here are some of the ways we’ve helped our clients increase diversity and inclusion:

  • Reduced the turnover of ethnically diverse talent at a global organization from 42% to 2% in less than three years.
  • Helped a financial services company identify that managers’ actions were resulting in mainly white men being promoted.
  • Enabled a global pharmaceutical company to double female representation at director and VP level in two years.
  • Saved a company millions in operating costs through innovative ‘diverse by design’ teams.

Find out more.