Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
Inclusion is the acts or practices that ensure individuals feel welcomed in a certain environment—no matter their background. These practices involve behavioral and social norms that provide:
Safety and comfort
Equal access to opportunities
Tools and resources that help people contribute to an organization’s success to the best of their ability
Inclusion is critical in helping individuals feel a sense of belonging and purpose. It respects people’s unique characteristics, backgrounds, and skills, such as:
Race and ethnicity
Marital status and socioeconomic status
In a society where people come from different backgrounds and cultures, inclusion fuels a culture where people feel respected and valued for who they are. This allows them to foster meaningful relationships with those around them and inspires them to do their best work.
An inclusive workplace is an organization where individuals of different backgrounds are hired and, more importantly, receive the support they need to do their best work.
A business that champions inclusion can build a diverse workforce. Not only is this a morally right thing to do, but it also drives a more positive and productive work environment. For example, according to McKinsey & Company:
Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform companies in the bottom quartile.
Businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile.
Building an inclusive and diverse workforce starts in recruitment. Employers should avoid restricting their hiring criteria to one specific gender, race, and/or nationality, as this can limit their ability to discover qualified candidates. Rather, they should focus on a candidate's ability to perform the job regardless of their race, religion, gender, etc.
Diversity and inclusion have been used so frequently together that they are often thought of as synonymous, but there are differences. While inclusion refers to a cultural and societal feeling of belonging, diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make up a given group.
In order for diversity efforts to succeed, inclusion is needed. In other words, diversity is the wide array of traits, characteristics, and identities in your organization, while inclusion aims to get this diverse group to work well together.
Employers should prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This may involve:
Encouraging feedback: Business leaders can encourage employees to speak up and embrace the inputs of employees from different backgrounds and experience levels. This feedback loop can create a healthy workplace environment infused with the core values of its employees.
Providing mentoring and coaching: This can involve leadership and training opportunities for minority groups to help promote underrepresented individuals to leadership positions. Women of color who have mentors are more likely, by 81 percent, to be happy with how their career is progressing than those who lack mentors.
Offering flexible options/benefits: This can help alleviate recruitment efforts where a candidate might be right for a role but not able to fulfill logistical requirements like relocating or working from the office 5 days a week. Offering remote or work-from-home options can expand opportunities to promote inclusion and diversity.
Here are three companies that have set examples of inclusion and diversity in the workplace to help fuel your team with more ideas:
Chevron: Chevron has established diversity councils, employee networks, personnel development committees, and employee developmental assignments to build and sustain their inclusion and diversity efforts.
Buffer: This social media software company put together a helpful guide on inclusive language for startups and tech. They also keep an updated public record on their employee diversity, keeping both themselves and their audience accountable for continuously championing inclusion and diversity.
Estee Lauder: This skin-care and make-up company has 39 employee resource groups across all geographic regions. Each group was started by Estee Lauder’s employees and includes groups for women, veterans, families, LGBTQA individuals, and much more.