Under your HR team’s leadership, your company
has recruited a diverse workforce that includes a
range of ages, ethnicities, religions and worldviews.
Identifying and hiring people with such diverse
backgrounds and characteristics is an achievement
that you reflect on with pride. So now you can check
off the diversity and inclusion (D&I) box on your
to-do list for building a great workplace … right?
Not so fast. Diversity is only half of the D&I picture. Creating a culture where people are respected and appreciated
requires another level of efort that may not be getting the
investment it needs.
“We often forget the ‘I’ in the D&I conversation,” says
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief ex-
ecutive ofcer of the Society for Human Resource Manage-
ment (SHRM). “The challenge is in having a culture where
all employees feel included. It’s a major investment to bring
talent into your organization, so why bring them in if they’re
not happy when they get here? You’ve got to get the inclu-
sion part right.”
Think of diversity as being similar to selecting people
for a chorus who have diferent musical backgrounds, vo-
cal ranges and abilities. The inclusion piece of D&I means
making sure that those diferent voices are heard and valued
and that they contribute to the performance.
When employees who are diferent from their colleagues
are allowed to fourish, the company benefts from their
ideas, skills and engagement, according to SHRM/Econo-mist Intelligence Unit research. The retention rate of those
workers also rises.
To that end, here are six practical strategies for creating
an inclusive environment.
EDUCATE YOUR LEADERS
Your organization’s executives and managers will be in-
strumental to your D&I eforts. “At the end of the day, it’s
the leader who’s on the front line with our
employees,” says Dianne Campbell, vice
president of global diversity and inclusion
at American Express in Washington, D.C.
“It’s the experience that the leader is cre-
ating that is going to make or break” your
This year, Amex is rolling out mandatory training for people at the vice president level and above. It will start with the
basics—what inclusion is and why it is important. Small groups will discuss strategies to foster it in the company.
“We have always focused on inclusion
and know this is something that’s import-
ant,” Campbell says. However, “as HR prac-
titioners, we take for granted when we say
to leaders that they need to be inclusive
that they know what we mean.”
At global pharmaceutical manufac-
turer Merck & Co. Inc., bosses at every
level undergo training in unconscious bias,
which occurs when individuals make judg-
ments about people based on gender, race
or other factors without realizing they’re
doing it. The training helps make people
aware of this form of bias and drives home
the importance of modeling inclusive be-