Building an inclusive organization
Judiel Patrick Cayabyab
Each leader’s goal nowadays is to create organizations that truly celebrate diverse perspectives in the workplace, which is not as easy as it may seem, in order to become truly inclusive, workplaces need to work hard to overcome unconscious bias, create divergent teams where people challenge each other, and implement policies to create a psychologically safe environment for all. This essay covers different aspects of an inclusive work environment and the importance of it. Study shows that organizations that are inclusive have better innovation.
We have all unfollowed or unfriended that crazy uncle or friend that keeps sharing tasteless Facebook memes or spouting political beliefs we find abhorrent. And with one easy click, we never will hear about them again. And honestly why not? Why should we be forced to listen to things that enrage us? The problem is that unfriending that one racist uncle doesn’t make him less racist. And now he doesn’t have anyone to contradict him, allowing his racist views to go unchallenged.
Diversity essentially is engaging with people with different perspectives. However, during these current years, we’ve become increasingly polarized, existing among people who share the same identity and opinions. And from a political view, this has resulted in the UK leaving the European Union, and the US electing a president who openly rejects refugees and immigrants.
Social media makes this polarization even worse, with technology “optimizing” its online experience using cookies to track our tastes and interests and reflecting them back to us in the content we see. Before the internet, people used to consume news from newspapers and TV channels. Today, they hear about what’s going on in the world via a personalized feed. So, they’re rarely confronted with contradictory opinions. Knowing that also many sources are extremely biased, or completely fabricated.
Usually, in the workplace, any completely white male team has deeply entrenched blind spots and is prone to “groupthink.” They produce fewer original ideas, and what’s even worse, these environments often lead to cronyism, with gender pay disparities and nepotism strangling growth and pushing down fresh talent. During our politically intolerant time, corporations carry the responsibility of taking a leading role in creating a genuinely diverse and inclusive workplace, in which employees can learn from each other and “bring their whole selves” to work.
Researchers from Princeton University conducted this study, where people were shown two different photographs and they were asked which one looks more competent, the candidate that the participants had decided looked more competent was indeed more successful and won their races around 70 percent of the time.
So what makes someone look competent? Is it the clothes? Or the ease before being in front of the camera? We make these kinds of judgments about people the whole time. This is called unconscious bias; it means we have judgments and beliefs that shape how we think and interpret information.
The thing about unconscious bias is that its danger lies within its invisibility. A quick easy example of that is the fact that if one has an internalized belief that women are less of leaders and do not hold any power, they will process everything a woman says through that bias but won’t even realize that they are doing it. Instead, the person will just think it’s just an objective fact that the candidate they saw didn’t have what it takes to be in a leading position. While it may be true, the issue here is that she was never given a real chance because their mind had been made before she even entered the room. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out how much unconscious bias affects candidates from underrepresented groups in the workplace. They’re less likely to get interviewed, hired, or promoted within a company. And as one of them, I can confirm it.
What can er do about this issue?
The first step is acceptance. When someone is saying “I don’t see color” they are just trying to mask the problem. Once you accept that you have blind spots you can start to climb what Noel Burch calls the Ladder of Cultural Competence. The challenging part is moving from “unconsciously incompetent,” to “consciously competent.” You come to the realization that you have deeply engraved hidden biases, but you have no idea what to do about them.
Next stage: “conscious competence” comes by learning new skills and being wilful to change your behaviors. By now one must have already tried to constantly implement strategies to counteract biases. Let’s say, there is a recruiter who hires mostly white candidates, they can start doing an anonymized selection process, and make sure they have a diverse hiring committee.
Once these practices become second nature, the final stage comes: unconscious competence. By now you must’ve become so intimate with your own internalized prejudices and how to deal with them that they no longer affect your performance at work.
In 2017, 45 of the best female performers wrote to the BBC director to complain about the gender pay gap. Expectedly, not one male performer did sign the letter. It was seen more like a “female” issue, or a feminist issue, so it was left for women to fight, without any participation from the men who were benefitting from the pay disparity. This must change. The gender pay gap is not an issue that can be shut down or sidelined by those in charge. It strikes right into a company’s culture. Is there transparency when it comes to communicating how and what people are paid? Are people actually promoted on merit or as a result of nepotism and tradition? Is there room for innovation? Any employee, no matter their gender, who cares about these principles should be deeply concerned when corrupt payment practices are normalized and allowed to be put into practice.
Cold hard reality reveals that there is very much little political will to shrink the pay gap. While taking a look at the authors of “Building an Inclusive Organization”. 2019. Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina did a study of the organizations held by the Times as being the top 50 Employers for Women in 2017. Only 6 percent of the companies on the list were found to have a better-than-average record for equal pay. So, gender equality in most of these companies was more about successful PR strategy than true equality for women in their employ.
To affect real change, companies will have to adopt policies that embrace transparency. For instance, many companies have started publishing all the salaries of their staff. It gives all employees the information they need to negotiate for promotions and pay rises. Gender equity will remain performative unless the men in charge start seeing the gender pay gap as an urgent issue for them. This will affect not only the well-being of the company will be surely affected as well as the employees who are underpaid for doing the same work. They won’t be able to attract the best talent, and the culture of secrecy will discourage their current employees.
Even though Finland is known to be the first countries to give women the right to vote in 1906 and is ranked high in gender equality. The gender pay gap still exits in Finland despite the government’s attempts to close it.
According to Statista, the average monthly earnings of men in Finland is 4,000 Euros in 2021, while the figure for women is 3,367 Euros.
Image courtesy: Statista
Reason Finland still has a gender pay gap:
- Men get promoted more often to higher pay jobs and in bigger companies’ women tend to work more in HR or communicate instead of business management and director goals.
- Women in Finland They frequently handle housework and kid care. Even taking care of elderly relatives falls considerably more on their shoulders than it does on the shoulders of men.
- Due to childbirth or family Finnish women frequently take extended breaks from the workforce. These job disruptions, which affect women more frequently than males, have a negative impact on their hourly wages as well as their pensions and future earnings. According to some reports, women in Finland only receive an average pension that is 79% of the pension received by men.
Because of all this factors the discrimination continues in Finland. To be able to close this payback more employees especially males need to acknowledge it as a problem and take steps on closing the gender discriminatory pay gap.
In the famous Tour de France cycle race, not only the person who finishes the race first is celebrated but also the one that comes last. While the winner is given a yellow jersey, the loser is given a red lantern, which tells that they were lighting the way from behind. It is easy to see the winner’s strengths and values. Of course, they were fast and won the race. But it is harder to recognize the loser’s value, even though they showed their perseverance, stamina, and determination already and together, as a team both winning and losing cyclists complement each other, each bringing different strengths to the table.
In workplaces now, the process of creating teams must prioritize difference instead of looking for homogeneity, the big goal here is to get someone who brings something new to the team and not try to find an employee who’s a “good fit” to the company. It might be people from different races, genders, or economic backgrounds. Looking at introverts, they are usually the ones that get discriminated against during the hiring process while in real life they can be a valuable asset when everyone is shouting over one another.
When leadership is not able to create that much of an inclusive environment they are risking both market failure and proper representation. Especially that valuing and embracing diversity is about recognizing that there are different voices at the table and how important they are, and having the company or the team do everything necessary to create a safe company culture space that allows each one of them to bring their true self to work.
In a study conducted by McKinsey it was shown that companies which fall into the top 25 percent in terms of gender diversity are actually 15 percent more likely to generate above-average earnings. But how’s that? Companies that prioritize inclusion are more innovative, and their teams’ ideas are much more original because they challenge and bring the best out of each other. They don’t share the same prejudices and blind spots; these teams are better able to spot each other’s mistakes and anticipate future risks to the company.
Recognizing that you’re biased is not enough to change your behaviour. Sometimes even, it might have the opposite effect; people may become complacent after attending training and fail to interrogate their deeply-entrenched biases. One has to go beyond awareness and focus on concrete actions. These actions should be embedded in the daily functioning of the company.
As an example, an employer can change their hiring process by posting job offers announcements on LGBTQ+ sites or other universities which they wouldn’t normally partner with. Also, avoid not looking at names when going through the applications, and also prepare to ask all candidates the same questions in the interview. Of course, it is easy to hire diverse candidates for a job, but the crucial hard part comes next and that’s when the employer must make them feel respected by creating a workplace that values psychological safety enough that people start to feel like they’re genuinely free to express their views and perspectives without fearing to get shut down at some point.
During meetings, women and people from minority groups are much more likely to be interrupted or talked over, inequality within these groups is common. To fight this dynamic, employers can create new policies about what kinds of language and behaviour are appropriate for meetings, and also rotate the meeting chair to make sure that those usually silent or introverted team members will have a chance to take the lead. It could also be about creating a program for minority employees that outlines a clear pathway to the promotion and make work-from-home options available. Changing a company culture is a lot of hard work and it will for sure take a long time. That is it’s needed to build a clear plan for who does what, ensure there’s clear communication between all members, and create a review process to create accountability.
When the British comedian Lenny Henry was knighted by the Queen, on ITV News, another Black man was being filmed accepting the award. They did, in fact, play the wrong footage. This mistake confirms the fact that TV news crews are often almost entirely white. At that moment they didn’t have the cultural competence to realize that they weren’t actually showing footage of Lenny Henry. When we look closely at specific industries, we see how destructive it is that they are largely white and culturally homogenous.
For example, cultural industries are hard to transform in part because they rely so much on freelancers, who are often hired in such hurry and chaotic process. This makes standardizing the recruitment process difficult. The worst part is that people in these industries prefer to hire their friends or those with whom they’ve previously worked.
The creative industries have traditionally been resistant to censorship and oversight, which can make it challenging to promote diversity and inclusion. However, by working with industry leaders to understand the barriers to representation and encouraging them to embrace diversity, Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina were able to promote positive change by creating a program that enable creativity instead of rejecting it, in which they worked with the executives to uncover why there was so little Black representation both in writing rooms and on-screen, and helped them understand that homogenous teams actually hampered the innovation of their programming. Their approach also highlights the importance of understanding the relationship between diversity and innovation. Homogenous teams can often lead to a lack of fresh ideas and perspectives, which can limit the creative potential of a project. By promoting diversity and encouraging industry leaders to embrace new voices and perspectives.
disability inclusion at work
Disability inclusion at work involves more than just employing disabled persons. An inclusive workplace recognizes the strengths of everyone. It provides employees with disabilities, whether physical or mental, with an equal opportunity to succeed, learn, receive fair compensation, and develop in their careers. The key to true inclusion is accepting difference. Today many companies understand the importance of diversity in organization and are trying to implement it more in the workforce. Yet, the disability community is frequently left out when talking about diversity and inclusive workforce.
BENEFITS OF INCLUSION:
People with disabilities must be creative to adapt to the world. Such skills straighten their problem solving skills which are needed in innovation. Having employees with disability also improves the product to be more inclusive in the market. They can see things in a different perspective.
A more diverse workplace is useful to all workers. According to studies, working with people who have disabilities increases non-disabled people’s awareness of ways to improve the workplace for everyone and make it more inclusive. Productivity often increases in workplaces that are more inclusive of those who have disabilities. For instance, Microsoft has developed a successful program for hiring individuals who have disabilities who fall into the autism spectrum.
Companies that adopt inclusive marketing and advertising tend to stand out from the competition.
Wide employment gap
Persons with disabilities are much less likely to be employed. Wish means that there is a vast untapped market of talents and skills to be used in the workplace.
“Being disabled is the one group that you don’t have to be born into – you can become disabled at any time,” explains Ola. “So my fight for equality and disability justice should be your fight, because you may very well become a person with a disability one day.”
Building an inclusive organization is beneficial in many ways. Creating career opportunities for all in this current society is very important. Companies can learn a lot from having a diverse workplace and there is a lot of benefits on diversity in a company.
Change always has to start from the people. People becoming more self-aware of their unconscious bias towards others. Recognizing prejudice opens up possibilities for reconciliation, wiser decisions, and eventually change. The change most start from the people and companies to build a better diverse future.
Sonali 2022 The Gender Pay Gap in Finland – InHunt World
Research report by AAPD and disability:IN 2018 Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage | Accenture read. 10.04.2022
Research report 2022 Global Gender Gap Report 2022 | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
- Frost, R. Alidina. Building an Inclusive Organization. Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce. 2019. Kogan Page; 1st edition.