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Social values and consumer preferences go hand in hand; buyers increasingly support products and services they believe in. From environmental responsibility to supply chain transparency, modern shoppers expect corporate responsibility; they are well-informed, sophisticated decision-makers, prone to passing over organizations that don’t share their values.

Among the many concerns considered by engaged, socially active, consumers; buyers expect inclusive work practices from producers, retailers and service providers. A commitment to diversity in the workplace stands beside eco-friendly production practices, efficient logistics, responsible sourcing, and other important consumer-driven issues, impacting modern sales environments from top to bottom.

If you’re not aligned with progressive employment standards, promoting diversity and welcoming distinct points of view, your company may be a step behind, missing out on the benefits of an inclusive labor force. Turning things around may be easier than you think, beginning with several inclusion strategies recommended by small business experts in a recent Inc. article.

Get Proactive About Inclusion

Changing your corporate culture isn’t accidental – deliberate steps are required to make your organization more inclusive. If you’re not yet sold on change, it’s important to recognize creativity and innovation benefit from diverse hiring, which in turn leads to happy staff. With a diverse, satisfied workforce representing your company, employee engagement extends beyond the walls of your organization, taking hold with your customers, as well as your staff.

It is thought one early obstacle for leaders promoting greater inclusion may be internal bias, resisting change. A proactive diversity policy takes more effort to carry off than out-of-the-box human resources solutions, so it’s easy for organizations to simply embrace the status quo, down the path of least resistance. Until you commit to diverse possibilities, taking a proactive approach, your company cannot reap the rewards of a well-rounded workforce. Inclusive policies and practices bring unique perspectives, skills, and education to your organization, adding immediate value.

Use Hiring Tools to Promote Diversity

Sprout Funding logoSourcing job candidates doesn’t always account for work force diversity. To ensure greater recruiting representation, some organizations paying attention to their hiring practices turn to job boards promoting inclusion. The hiring tools increase access to members of minority groups, veterans, and differently-abled job candidates seeking employment.

Hide Applicant Names

It has become common practice to hide job applicants’ names during the resume read-through and interview process, in order to eliminate unconscious bias impacting candidates. In their attempts to promote greater inclusion, progressive employers use the strategy to focus the job search on qualifications, skills, and experience, rather than personal background, age, or ethnicity.

Encourage Diverse Points of View

Hiring practices are a good place to focus limited resources, but your responsibility to diversity carries on after onboarding. Inclusion accounts not only for differences in background and heritage, but an inclusive workplace culture also recognizes diverse points of view. An inclusive environment accepts differences, cultivating collaboration and compromise between coworkers from all age groups and backgrounds.

Accommodate Flexible and Remote Scheduling Needs

Physical boundaries no longer separate talent; personal communication advances and virtual work space make it possible to collaborate globally, in real time. That’s not to say your small business should be staffed worldwide; it only underscores limitless possibilities for organizations embracing diversity and inclusion. Flexible work schedules send the right message to employees, showing you care about their lives outside the workplace. As you flex to meet their needs, employees may return the consideration with commitment and greater engagement.

Let Everyone Lead a Little

Organizational structure is important, but maintaining an overly rigid flow can thwart creativity and discourage staff members from speaking up. Whenever possible, shuffle the point person on meetings and/or projects, giving everyone a chance to take charge.

Incorporating opportunities to empower staff members illustrates your commitment to recognize diverse viewpoints, helping individual contributors feel more connected to the company’s decision-making process.

Expect Buy-in From Top to Bottom

Maintaining a company-wide inclusion program starts at the top and permeates every level of an organization. Department heads must be prepared to lead both by instruction and by example in order for diversity initiatives to succeed in the work place, but management must also be able to count on employees to carry out aspects of an effective plan. Training and policy shifts can help instill inclusive values at every level of your organization.

Scrutinize Policies and Practices

Professional relationships and standards continually evolve; policies and procedures can become outdated. Reviewing your organization’s policies for hidden bias can help you turn toward greater inclusion. Good intentions aside, your company’s documentation, outlining standards of practice and policies, may contain unintentional bias, requiring revision. Unwritten rules and expectations should also be examined for impropriety; your company culture may exhibit unintentional bias toward particular worker classes.

Revisit Your Plan

Periodic review ensures your standards remain relevant. As your organization grows and faces new challenges, it is important to reflect on your progress and continue adapting inclusive policies. Big changes within the organization may call attention to lagging policies and practices, but you should also build in regular review periods, evaluating your plan’s ability to evolve with subtler shifts. When inconsistencies emerge or your inclusion plans fall short, frequent checks enable you to make appropriate adjustments, before conditions worsen.

Anticipate Bad Behavior

No amount of planning and training ensures 100-percent success promoting workplace diversity and inclusion. Although you can’t fully prevent unacceptable behavior, your inclusion plan can include remedies for inevitable missteps. The initial goal of retraining can help a team member or group of employees get back on track, but a lasting solution may also require a look at procedures and policies. Each complaint or conflict should have a clear resolution timeline.

Your commitment to workplace diversity is a good first-step toward greater inclusion; these 10 strategies can help you to the next level. For results that ripple throughout your organization, back up your pledge with thorough training and equitable personnel policies.

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