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Everyone performs better when they feel valued and there is plenty of evidence to show that inclusive organisations get better results. It’s also increasingly important that an organisation demonstrates its inclusive culture through its employer brand to help attract and retain the best talent. This focus on diversity and inclusion has only intensified over the last 18 months in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and now EDI (equality, diversity and Inclusion) is integral to successful business strategy. But how can EDI resources and technology help create an inclusive culture?

The business case is clear. Organisations that sustain their focus on EDI not only have the moral high ground but will be more successful in achieving their objectives. A whole range of studies show that more diverse workforces and inclusive cultures lead to better business outcomes – improved recruitment, innovation and profitability are just some of the ways in which diversity benefits organisations.

But many organisations still lack EDI. From the top down motivation to move to an inclusive culture along with the practical processes and delivery mechanisms of content and polices. The cause of which is typically a systemic failure to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce and working culture. And it is for this reason that organisations must grasp the nettle and tackle the systemic blockers to change.

In its report Building inclusive workplaces: assessing the evidence, the CIPD urges people professionals to:

“Consider inclusion from an individual and organisational perspective, and how the two influence each other. Allowing all employees to develop, participate and use their voices to influence important decision-making can affect how members of the workforce experience and perceive inclusion at an individual level.”

“Make inclusion relevant to all employees. Ensure that employees understand that inclusion is about how we relate to and work with others in the business. This means that inclusion not only impacts everyone in their role but that it is everyone’s responsibility to act in an inclusive way.”

How 5App can help build an inclusive culture

On this second point, one area that we have seen work for our clients is in making EDI resources visible and accessible and clearly communicating them across the organisation. This small intervention can have a big impact.

Curating EDI resources 

If diversity and inclusion is important to your organisation then you need to show it. By showing the organisation’s commitment to it, the organisation makes itself accountable. And that accountability builds trust.

Policies and procedures on EDI (equality, diversity & inclusion) and what it means in your organisation should be made clear to employees and stakeholders as a basic starting point. But you need to go further than that, bringing them to life through every stage of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment, talent management and beyond. That means raising the profile of EDI through internal communications.

For 5App Hub users, these communications have been both top-down and bottom-up.

For example, Spirit Energy, an oil and gas challenger brand worked with internal employee influencers who ran internal networks such as the LGBTQ+ network to create and share playlists (which were available on the Hub) relevant to their communities. This approach helped support those internal communities, amplified their voices, gave them a safe space to be authentic and a sense of belonging within the organisation, central to creating an inclusive culture.

For 5App’s partner Hemsley Fraser, the transformation in employee engagement was in part fuelled by regular video communications from the company’s CEO Todd Turner. This was supported by curated playlists of resources on topics that the organisation needed employees to know about as well as resources created and shared by employees themselves.

Giving visibility to resources and supporting them with communications from leaders and key internal influencers helps build engagement with the organisation’s EDI vision and agenda.

To help reinforce the importance of diversity, organisations must also harness the power of stories. Employees can bring to life the impact of a more open, inclusive and diverse organisational culture. These need to be told from the bottom up as well as from the top down.

The role of communications in building a diverse and inclusive culture

As we mentioned earlier, trust can be earned by organisations once they hold themselves accountable for their actions. But if these actions remain hidden from view then employees won’t be aware of how the organisation is improving diversity and inclusion.

Organisations need to be crystal clear about how they are delivering on their EDI vision. This is not simply about creating an annual report and sharing it with the organisation or curating some resources and hiding them away on the intranet. This is about engaging with all employees across the organisation on an ongoing basis, showing that EDI matters and is talked about.

So, how you communicate matters. This is something Greystar learned when rolling out its corporate university. It wasn’t until the global leader in real estate management and development started using the 5App Hub as a communications tool that engagement really took off. Raising the profile of an EDI initiative will take more than an initial launch of resources. It requires the organisation to build engagement around diversity and inclusion and to maintain and develop conversations over time.

And it doesn’t stop there. Managers need to support your communications effort and the organisation needs to consider how it will support diverse employee voices as part of an inclusive culture. Top-down communication must be supported by enabling employee voices to be encouraged and shared. Managers have a vital role to make this happen.

In its report, Talking about voice: employees’ experiences, the CIPD highlights the importance of enabling employees to speak up:

“To help employees feel safe and confident about saying how they feel, leaders and line managers need to understand the value of employee voice and demonstrate empathic listening. People professionals should develop an organisational environment which supports and rewards idea-sharing and open discussion.”

It is important to note that, according to further research produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, healthy organisational cultures are based on good communications.

Keeping the conversation fresh, even through challenging times and events, will show the organisation’s commitment to and accountability for making the employee experience more inclusive.

Conclusion

Research demonstrates that organisations that invest in building an inclusive workplace culture are more successful. The CIPD’s report, Building inclusive workplaces: assessing the evidence, highlights four workplace outcomes of organisational-level inclusion. They are:

– Innovation and creativity
Inclusive teams create a safe space where ideas and innovation thrive.

– Knowledge-sharing in diverse teams
An inclusive culture leads to better knowledge sharing.

– Job performance and commitment
Inclusion matters more than diversity policies/commitment to job performance.

– Minimising barriers for underrepresented groups
People with disabilities thrive at work where there is high workplace inclusion.

And analysis from global consultancy firm McKinsey shows that companies with more gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies with less diversity.

Sharing relevant resources to support diversity and inclusion and communicating them effectively can help build engagement around an organisation’s diversity and inclusion agenda. It can help employees talk about topics that many organisations find difficult to talk about. And it can help build health cultures in which all employees can thrive.

Having an effective platform can bring EDI to life in your organisation. The 5App Hub enables a diverse and inclusive culture to be established, supporting knowledge sharing, content development and the communications needed to reach all employees, create safe spaces, build trust and encourage authenticity. Contact us about a free 90 day trial of the 5App Hub.