Underestimating the importance of inclusion in the workplace can reduce employee engagement

nicolas-ladino-silva-y88uVd4tcNo-unsplash-1Whether or not companies have purposely launched a program to try to increase diversity within their organization, due to globalization, many may employ a more diverse workforce than even a decade ago.

That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that all employees will feel like a substantial part of the organization.

Having a sense of belonging at work, according to research from Culture Amp involving workers in North America, Asia and Europe, and feeling like your input matters strongly correlates to engagement.

Yet employees from historically underrepresented ethnic groups are less likely to have that kind of positive office culture experience — for a few reasons, which may include some of the following employer oversights:

Neglecting diversity and inclusion retention

Sixty-five percent of organizations have programs in place to find and build a diverse and inclusive workforce; fewer have ones to help them hold on to those employees once they’re hired. Only 44 percent, in fact, have a retention program that can help them maintain their inclusive work environment, according to a Forbes Insight survey involving professionals in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe/Middle East/Africa region.

Focusing on a head count, instead of their structure

Ethnic and cultural diversity within U.S. and U.K. executive teams was found to be generally low in a McKinsey study. Only 8 percent of executives in the U.K. identified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group, and employees of Hispanic and Latino, Asian American and black/African ancestry were found to each comprise less than six percent of senior executive positions in the U.S.

If employees from underrepresented ethnic groups don’t have equal opportunities to obtain leadership positions, or tend to be concentrated in specific functions within a company, no matter how diverse an organization visually appears to be, they may not feel like it’s an inclusive work environment. Distributing company-wide surveys and asking about inclusion in exit interviews can help employers gauge whether workers truly feel they’re treating employees equally, regardless of ethnicity or race.

Viewing diversity and inclusion efforts identically

Different approaches and evaluation methods are required to address diversity and inclusion. While training has been found to be an effective way to support diversity efforts — employees ranked it as one of the most useful diversity interventions in a Boston Consulting Group survey — promoting inclusion in the workplace through instruction can be more challenging. Inclusion involves employees feeling like an integral part of the company; other actions, such as aligning succession policies to position and encourage employees from underrepresented groups to advance within the organization, may help foster it more effectively.

Similarly, while examining hiring goal progress may offer insight into how diversity endeavors are working, that information won’t always indicate whether efforts to form an inclusive workforce are successful. Most organizations track employee demographics, such as gender; less than half, however, measure compensation, performance or promotion-based discrepancies, according to PwC research — which can more clearly indicate whether employees from traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups have been given opportunities to fully contribute and assume leadership roles.

For additional information about championing a more diverse workforce and positive office culture, view the following blog posts on what the most diverse companies are getting right, the top 5 elements your diversity program should include, which employee diversity networks are inspiring change, what not to do when establishing an initiative to support diversity and inclusion retention and 3 effective ways you can prevent your diversity program from faltering.