Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Want A More Inclusive Work Culture? Try These 10 Simple Leadership Strategies

Employees want to feel valued, included and represented at work. Not only do they want to receive encouragement from supervisors and support from upper management, but they also want to be able to express themselves and their opinions freely with colleagues without fear of retribution.

Leaders have an important role to play in creating an accepting, comfortable work culture that benefits employees. To help you fulfill this role, 10 Young Entrepreneur Council members each share one simple step any business leader can take today to create or encourage a more equitable and inclusive work culture. 

1. Speak With Employees

I think it’s important as a leader to actually enact steps that encourage a more equitable and inclusive work culture by asking your employees what’s important to them. You don’t want to just assume what the culture is, because that’s not how you build culture. If you want an inclusive and equitable work environment, start by asking your employees what they think is missing or what could be added to the team to make the culture more inclusive and equitable. This can be a small step, like creating floating holidays so people can celebrate whichever holidays are most important to them, or it could mean going so far as to hire a DEI agency to come in and advise your organization to ensure everyone is well-equipped to create a healthy company culture. – Milan Kordestani, The Doe, Dormzi, and Guin Records

2. Bring In Experts

Partner with somebody who knows more than you. I’m not a diversity and inclusivity expert, but I can hire one to poke holes in my current culture or work environment. Let’s not bootstrap this at the risk of getting it wrong or being ignorant. Hire an outside expert or HR specialist who can help you craft more inclusive job descriptions or change where you source for new candidates. – Trivinia Barber, PriorityVA

3. Value And Nurture Different Perspectives

Inclusivity starts with the hiring process. If a candidate looks amazing on paper and backs it up in interviews, the rest really should not matter. Yes, a good “fit” is helpful, but it is surprising to me how many times someone from a different culture or background can bring a refreshing—and often needed—perspective to a work team. That perspective should be nurtured. Ask questions of a new hire, not to be intrusive, but to be curious and in an effort to learn more about the person and how they view the world, the industry and the job at hand. I’m from Boston, and some folks don’t always know how to take my humor and my style of work. The best places I’ve worked for respected my Northeast approach and realized my perspective is of value to any organization. I appreciate the same in others. – Jeff Keenan, LeadsRx

4. Recognize Biased Hiring Patterns

Take a group picture of your team and ask yourself, does everyone look the same? Do they have similar backgrounds, similar upbringings, similar sexual orientations, races and gender identities? Is the entire team either too political or too apolitical, or does everyone recycle or does nobody recycle in the office? If you found the answer to be “yes,” next time when you’re hiring, pay attention to who you are hiring and why. Are you hiring the next person who fits the team or are you hiring the best for the position who adds to the team? – Devesh Dwivedi, Idea2Inception

5. Take A People-Centric Decision-Making Approach

Leaders must put themselves in the shoes of their employees and consider the human impact of business decisions. Taking into account different cultures, religions and beliefs and understanding how decisions may affect different individuals in the company is key. By showing a genuine interest in your employees’ cultures and backgrounds and considering them when making decisions, you can build more than just an inclusive work culture—you can build a family. – Brian Pallas, Opportunity Network

6. Embrace And Celebrate Differences

Inclusion in the workplace has a positive impact on business performance. One way you can build a more inclusive workplace is to embrace your employees’ differences. Diversity in the workplace increases productivity and paves the way for a broad range of skills. You can celebrate diversity in the workplace in more ways than one. One is by allowing flexible work options for everyone. Others would be to add nursing rooms for mothers or provide gender-neutral bathrooms. Some companies hold parties that celebrate the backgrounds or customs of their employees. For ideas on how you can add diversity to your workplace, start by asking for feedback from your employees on how to improve the diversity in your company. – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

7. Encourage Team Bonding

Set a short-term team target where the group gets rewarded for achieving a certain milestone or sales result. The prize can be an outing, group dinner or even a monetary reward for all. What is important is to be explicit and clear with the target and to give a prize that is exciting and unusual. It could be a day at a water park, dinner at a very unusual restaurant or even a fun karaoke night. – Saana Azzam, MENA Speakers

8. Create Optimal Working Conditions

Equitable and inclusive work cultures have become buzzwords across many industries and companies, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s good at it. First of all, these words mean different things to different people. I look at it as a way to create proper working conditions for everyone in the company so that they can excel. If everyone excels, the business does as well. So what are some factors that affect working conditions for your staff? What are the steps you can take to optimize these factors for optimal working conditions for all? One step that comes to mind is making employees feel like they matter and that their work has a positive impact on the company and customers. The questions above help you understand your work culture. They’re questions you only ask if you’re listening to your staff. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

9. Raise Wages

Raising a company minimum wage to something above the market rate will go a long way to making everyone feel valued and included. There are other important ways to encourage an equitable and inclusive work environment, such as holding one-on-one meetings and providing training, but if you’re looking for a concrete and immediate way to make everyone feel valued, then raise wages if you can afford it. Your employees will feel the benefits directly and immediately. I did that for my company way before the labor shortage happened, and I have been able to retain 90% of my employees. It’s been a morale booster in many ways and has helped make everyone feel valued and part of the team. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

10. Ensure Diversity In Upper Management

Actions speak louder than words. Ensure that your organization is inclusive by ensuring that your management roles are filled with people from different walks of life. During your employer branding campaigns, don’t shy away from creating Facebook videos or Instagram Stories interviewing your management team or key leaders in the organization. Improve your culture from within and the change will follow. Leading by example is the best way to attract talent and build trust in your future partners. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

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