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5 Ways Your Business Can Improve Diversity And Inclusion

February 3, 2022

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“Is my workplace diverse and inclusive?” If you’re asking yourself that question, then you’re already a step ahead. Because that means diversity and inclusion matters to you and your business.

Diversity is about the differences and similarities between people. Inclusion is about creating a culture where people feel they belong. Or as Dr. Steve Yacovelli puts it, “diversity is being invited to the dance — inclusion is being asked to dance.”

In a recent episode of Organize Chaos, our CEO Chris Ronzio had the chance to sit down with Dr. Steve, the owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group, a learning and development consulting group. He's worked for Fortune 500 companies like the Walt Disney Company, as well as nonprofits like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

For Dr. Steve, improving diversity and inclusion is simply the best thing you can do for your business because of all the benefits. Diverse teams see a 60% bump in decision-making abilities, and workplaces in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to have above-average returns.

But how does your business go about improving diversity and inclusion? Dr. Steve shared a handful of tips that can help you incorporate more diversity into your workplace.

1. Audit your company culture

Before implementing any new changes, you should start by reviewing your company culture. Try to get a sense of how your workplace currently stands in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Even if you only have a handful of employees, it’s always best to start talking about diversity and inclusion as soon as possible. According to Dr. Steve, workplace culture starts to take shape when there are 3 employees. So, if you want to incorporate diversity into your core values, you want to think about it sooner rather than later.

Start your audit by talking to your employees. Ask them how they feel the company does in terms of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Steve recommends you ask questions like, “do you feel respected?” and “is your perspective being honored?”

These talks can happen as one-on-one conversations. Or you can create a simple (and potentially anonymous) survey that can be sent to the whole company.

And don’t stop at employees. Ask your vendors, partners, and any other people associated with your company. Feedback from outside the company is just as valuable as feedback from within. 

Also, check to see if your business has received any complaints about diversity and inclusion. For example, have employees mentioned in Glassdoor reviews that your company isn’t proactive in terms of diversity? If you have received feedback, make sure to address it right away. 

Do not let those issues go unaddressed. Otherwise, they'll persist.

White male standing on a stage, speaking into microphone, with a huge screen behind him with title "The Gay Leadership Dude."
Dr. Steve Yacovelli, owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group

2. Make diversity and inclusion a core part of your business

Diversity and inclusion should be embraced. These values shouldn’t fall under what Dr. Steve calls the “tick box mentality.” AKA when companies do the bare minimum simply because they have to. Your business has to live and breathe these values. 

“We need to make sure that we’re not just throwing a training class at it. Yay. Tick box. We’re done. It’s the culture around it,” Dr. Steve explained.

Meaning, diversity and inclusion have to be a part of your company, your mission, your workplace culture, and your company’s values. Diversity and inclusion must be perfectly infused into your company. 

These values should be a part of your business’s DNA. And your policies should reflect that. For example, you can introduce a zero-tolerance policy to show that your business simply won't permit discrimination in the workplace

And once you’ve introduced diversity and inclusion as major components of your company's values, you can start telling people how your business will go about implementing diversity policies at work.

That way, customers and potential job applicants will recognize how important diversity and inclusion are to your business.

3. Lead by example

“[Diversity and inclusion] starts at the top.”
<blockquoteauthor>Dr. Steve Yacovelli, owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group<blockquoteauthor>

Your business leadership (CEOs, supervisors, managers, team leaders, and HR personnel) all have to commit to improving diversity and inclusion. It’s not enough to just hire a diverse workforce or create new training programs on inclusion. Leadership must be the driving force in promoting these values.

Having “leadership courage,” as Dr. Steve calls it, is a great example. Meaning, you have the ability to stand up to someone when they do or say something that might be hurtful or non-inclusive to others. 

For example, if an employee made an offensive remark about someone’s culture or language, that would be a prime moment for leadership to step up and condemn that behavior. This can stop offensive remarks or actions from continuing. And having leadership courage also helps set an example for the rest of the company.

Employees from diverse backgrounds or cultures need to see leadership embody the values of inclusion in the workplace. People who feel like they don’t belong are more likely to leave their jobs. But when there’s tangible proof that leadership will support inclusion, these employees are more likely to stay longer.

If you’re not sure where to start as a business leader, Dr. Steve has a 3-step process to help get you going in the right direction.

1. Think in

Ask yourself what sort of unconscious biases could be present in your workplace. AKA what social stereotypes have employees unconsciously formed?

Dr. Steve recommends going to Project Implicit, a website run by Harvard University. There, you can take an Implicit Association Test based on different groups, including race or gender. 

The results of the test can help you identify potential biases of many types. And these tests can give you an idea of where to improve diversity in your business.

2. Speak up

Try thinking about your employees with diverse backgrounds. How do you interact with them? Are you using inclusive language? Are you speaking up when you should or refuting any hurtful points of view? 

This is where leadership courage comes into play. If you notice an employee is being insensitive about another’s culture or identity, this is the time to say something and take action.

3. Act out

Is your company embracing diversity and inclusion? What does your marketing look like? Does the company photo reflect the diversity of your employees? 

Show your employees, customers, and partners that diversity and inclusion are vital to your company. Talk about it on job postings. Incorporate diversity and inclusion as a value in the “about” section of your company.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should just push diversity into your marketing and call it a day. You know that your business has a genuine interest in promoting diversity and inclusivity, so be as authentic and transparent as possible about your company’s policies and core values.

4. Change how you recruit employees

An area where unconscious bias might be affecting your company is in recruitment. Does your company only find potential candidates through one website? Are your job descriptions inclusive of a wide range of backgrounds and work experiences?

Dr. Steve used a cheeky analogy to explain: “I went to Ohio State. And so I am blatantly aware that I have a bias for people who are Buckeyes. I know that, but if I look at my hiring practices, do I tend to snub people from the University of Michigan?”

You want to make sure you aren’t allowing unconscious bias to affect your hiring process. So, check your recruitment data. Are there any patterns showing that certain demographics are being snubbed? 

You might notice that you're hiring from the same pool of universities or only hiring from a few nearby cities. Maybe you're only sourcing job candidates through websites like LinkedIn.

Try expanding the areas and ways in which you hire people. Make an effort to hire from different schools. Setup hiring events where you encourage people from different backgrounds to apply.

And refine your role descriptions. Make sure the language you use is inclusive of different backgrounds. For example, avoid gender-coded words like “aggressive” and “dominant” — studies show that these words can actually reduce the number of women who apply to open positions.

5. Start with current measurements and track your company’s progress

Now that you have a few solid ideas for improving diversity and inclusion in your company, remember to track your progress. 

Let’s say you decide to start making a big push in diverse recruitment. Give yourself 6 months — if your company's diversity has improved in that time period, then you’re headed in the right direction! If it hasn’t improved, then you might need to reevaluate your recruitment strategy.

Employee feedback can also help you measure how the diversity and inclusion implementation is going. Conduct engagement surveys every few months. Ask your employees if they’ve noticed improvements in diversity. And get their opinion on how your business can continue to do better with these values.

If employee feedback suggests that there is more room for improvement, that’s okay. According to Dr. Steve, the push for diversity and inclusion is a journey, not a destination. If the response from your employees is positive, then you know you’re on the right track. 

To embody diversity and inclusion at your business, you have to actively think about these values every day. Doing so will lead to better talent in your business, more creative employees, and a place where workers can feel like they belong.

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Article

5 Ways Your Business Can Improve Diversity And Inclusion

February 3, 2022

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“Is my workplace diverse and inclusive?” If you’re asking yourself that question, then you’re already a step ahead. Because that means diversity and inclusion matters to you and your business.

Diversity is about the differences and similarities between people. Inclusion is about creating a culture where people feel they belong. Or as Dr. Steve Yacovelli puts it, “diversity is being invited to the dance — inclusion is being asked to dance.”

In a recent episode of Organize Chaos, our CEO Chris Ronzio had the chance to sit down with Dr. Steve, the owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group, a learning and development consulting group. He's worked for Fortune 500 companies like the Walt Disney Company, as well as nonprofits like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

For Dr. Steve, improving diversity and inclusion is simply the best thing you can do for your business because of all the benefits. Diverse teams see a 60% bump in decision-making abilities, and workplaces in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to have above-average returns.

But how does your business go about improving diversity and inclusion? Dr. Steve shared a handful of tips that can help you incorporate more diversity into your workplace.

1. Audit your company culture

Before implementing any new changes, you should start by reviewing your company culture. Try to get a sense of how your workplace currently stands in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Even if you only have a handful of employees, it’s always best to start talking about diversity and inclusion as soon as possible. According to Dr. Steve, workplace culture starts to take shape when there are 3 employees. So, if you want to incorporate diversity into your core values, you want to think about it sooner rather than later.

Start your audit by talking to your employees. Ask them how they feel the company does in terms of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Steve recommends you ask questions like, “do you feel respected?” and “is your perspective being honored?”

These talks can happen as one-on-one conversations. Or you can create a simple (and potentially anonymous) survey that can be sent to the whole company.

And don’t stop at employees. Ask your vendors, partners, and any other people associated with your company. Feedback from outside the company is just as valuable as feedback from within. 

Also, check to see if your business has received any complaints about diversity and inclusion. For example, have employees mentioned in Glassdoor reviews that your company isn’t proactive in terms of diversity? If you have received feedback, make sure to address it right away. 

Do not let those issues go unaddressed. Otherwise, they'll persist.

White male standing on a stage, speaking into microphone, with a huge screen behind him with title "The Gay Leadership Dude."
Dr. Steve Yacovelli, owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group

2. Make diversity and inclusion a core part of your business

Diversity and inclusion should be embraced. These values shouldn’t fall under what Dr. Steve calls the “tick box mentality.” AKA when companies do the bare minimum simply because they have to. Your business has to live and breathe these values. 

“We need to make sure that we’re not just throwing a training class at it. Yay. Tick box. We’re done. It’s the culture around it,” Dr. Steve explained.

Meaning, diversity and inclusion have to be a part of your company, your mission, your workplace culture, and your company’s values. Diversity and inclusion must be perfectly infused into your company. 

These values should be a part of your business’s DNA. And your policies should reflect that. For example, you can introduce a zero-tolerance policy to show that your business simply won't permit discrimination in the workplace

And once you’ve introduced diversity and inclusion as major components of your company's values, you can start telling people how your business will go about implementing diversity policies at work.

That way, customers and potential job applicants will recognize how important diversity and inclusion are to your business.

3. Lead by example

“[Diversity and inclusion] starts at the top.”
<blockquoteauthor>Dr. Steve Yacovelli, owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group<blockquoteauthor>

Your business leadership (CEOs, supervisors, managers, team leaders, and HR personnel) all have to commit to improving diversity and inclusion. It’s not enough to just hire a diverse workforce or create new training programs on inclusion. Leadership must be the driving force in promoting these values.

Having “leadership courage,” as Dr. Steve calls it, is a great example. Meaning, you have the ability to stand up to someone when they do or say something that might be hurtful or non-inclusive to others. 

For example, if an employee made an offensive remark about someone’s culture or language, that would be a prime moment for leadership to step up and condemn that behavior. This can stop offensive remarks or actions from continuing. And having leadership courage also helps set an example for the rest of the company.

Employees from diverse backgrounds or cultures need to see leadership embody the values of inclusion in the workplace. People who feel like they don’t belong are more likely to leave their jobs. But when there’s tangible proof that leadership will support inclusion, these employees are more likely to stay longer.

If you’re not sure where to start as a business leader, Dr. Steve has a 3-step process to help get you going in the right direction.

1. Think in

Ask yourself what sort of unconscious biases could be present in your workplace. AKA what social stereotypes have employees unconsciously formed?

Dr. Steve recommends going to Project Implicit, a website run by Harvard University. There, you can take an Implicit Association Test based on different groups, including race or gender. 

The results of the test can help you identify potential biases of many types. And these tests can give you an idea of where to improve diversity in your business.

2. Speak up

Try thinking about your employees with diverse backgrounds. How do you interact with them? Are you using inclusive language? Are you speaking up when you should or refuting any hurtful points of view? 

This is where leadership courage comes into play. If you notice an employee is being insensitive about another’s culture or identity, this is the time to say something and take action.

3. Act out

Is your company embracing diversity and inclusion? What does your marketing look like? Does the company photo reflect the diversity of your employees? 

Show your employees, customers, and partners that diversity and inclusion are vital to your company. Talk about it on job postings. Incorporate diversity and inclusion as a value in the “about” section of your company.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should just push diversity into your marketing and call it a day. You know that your business has a genuine interest in promoting diversity and inclusivity, so be as authentic and transparent as possible about your company’s policies and core values.

4. Change how you recruit employees

An area where unconscious bias might be affecting your company is in recruitment. Does your company only find potential candidates through one website? Are your job descriptions inclusive of a wide range of backgrounds and work experiences?

Dr. Steve used a cheeky analogy to explain: “I went to Ohio State. And so I am blatantly aware that I have a bias for people who are Buckeyes. I know that, but if I look at my hiring practices, do I tend to snub people from the University of Michigan?”

You want to make sure you aren’t allowing unconscious bias to affect your hiring process. So, check your recruitment data. Are there any patterns showing that certain demographics are being snubbed? 

You might notice that you're hiring from the same pool of universities or only hiring from a few nearby cities. Maybe you're only sourcing job candidates through websites like LinkedIn.

Try expanding the areas and ways in which you hire people. Make an effort to hire from different schools. Setup hiring events where you encourage people from different backgrounds to apply.

And refine your role descriptions. Make sure the language you use is inclusive of different backgrounds. For example, avoid gender-coded words like “aggressive” and “dominant” — studies show that these words can actually reduce the number of women who apply to open positions.

5. Start with current measurements and track your company’s progress

Now that you have a few solid ideas for improving diversity and inclusion in your company, remember to track your progress. 

Let’s say you decide to start making a big push in diverse recruitment. Give yourself 6 months — if your company's diversity has improved in that time period, then you’re headed in the right direction! If it hasn’t improved, then you might need to reevaluate your recruitment strategy.

Employee feedback can also help you measure how the diversity and inclusion implementation is going. Conduct engagement surveys every few months. Ask your employees if they’ve noticed improvements in diversity. And get their opinion on how your business can continue to do better with these values.

If employee feedback suggests that there is more room for improvement, that’s okay. According to Dr. Steve, the push for diversity and inclusion is a journey, not a destination. If the response from your employees is positive, then you know you’re on the right track. 

To embody diversity and inclusion at your business, you have to actively think about these values every day. Doing so will lead to better talent in your business, more creative employees, and a place where workers can feel like they belong.

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5 Ways Your Business Can Improve Diversity And Inclusion

February 3, 2022

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