BARRIERS TO A MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
Workplace diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality are significant industry trends as organizations admit to the need for a more inclusive workplace.
Inclusive workplaces foster creativity, improved productivity, and a sense of safety to promote development. Employees are three times more engaged and committed to their organization if they feel that their workplace is inclusive.
However, despite the apparent need for inclusive workplaces and thousands of global organizations admitting to working towards it, much is still to be done.
Employees from racial minorities, different castes, and genders regularly face unsupportive workplace environments that drive them towards job change. This is because there are several barriers to building a truly inclusive workplace.
In this piece, we will explore these barriers and potential ways in which they can be overcome.
Barriers To a More Inclusive Workplace:
According to a McKinsey study, 39% of respondents from various demographics admitted turning down a job from an employer perceived as non-inclusive. Some of the key reasons organization are perceived as non-inclusive are the barriers to building an inclusive workplace.
The disconnect between Personal Competencies and Organisational Values:
One of the main barriers to building an inclusive workplace is the disconnect between the personal competencies of employees and values or capabilities that are perceived to be valued at the organization. When such a mismatch exists, employees are likely to feel that they are omitted.
For instance, in a sales-driven organization, employees with poor selling capabilities will think that the workplace environment is not inclusive, irrespective of their demographics.
Latent and Obvious Microaggressions:
In the workplace, employees from racial or ethnic minorities often face microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle, indirect, and intentional discriminatory behavior aimed at someone.
It may entail passing stereotypical remarks or jokes, not giving enough credit for work and achievements, or excluding certain employees from social activities. Women and members of the LTBTQ+ community also face discriminatory behavior.
Missing Allies and Sponsors:
Even though most employees claim to support a diverse workplace environment, barely 39% can recognize discrimination and microaggressions against others. An even lower number tries to speak up against discrimination or fight for fair opportunities for the under-represented.
Since there are few allies and fewer sponsors for employees from diverse backgrounds, organizations find it hard to create an inclusive culture.
Overcoming The Barriers:
These barriers must be consciously identified and acknowledged to build a diverse and inclusive workplace environment. Then effective measures need to be taken to cultivate a more inclusive environment. The following measures can improve inclusivity and its perception in the workplace:
Promoting Diversity in Leadership:
Diverse leadership is often the first thing that contributes to building an inclusive employer brand. Inclusive leadership is more open to building cohesive teams, and better understands their employees' latent discrimination and challenges. Since this awareness is an essential first step toward finding sustainable solutions, organizations must focus on attracting and retaining diverse leaders.
Establishing Meritocratic Organisational Culture:
Employees almost always move away from organizations where they don't feel included. The lack of fair appraisals and meritocratic culture can erode their confidence in their employer. Organizations where employees are promoted based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or lifestyle choices instead of their capability and productive contribution towards organizational goals can't retain high-quality talent.
Establishing a meritocratic culture and giving everyone fair chances for career advancement leads to a more inclusive workplace.
Since microaggressions and discrimination can be unintentional, it is essential to sensitize employees and consciously promote inclusivity regularly. With SME-led workshops and training, employees can be coached to work in diverse workplace environments without offending others or suffering discrimination.
These, when supported by open channels of communications with empathetic leadership and transparent HR policies, can significantly improve workplace inclusivity.
In conclusion, the barriers to building a more inclusive workplace are more or less the same in society. Unless organizational leaders recognize them and internalize corrective measures, inclusion in the workplace will only remain a myth. For effective change, policies and culture have to shift decidedly with the genuine involvement of employees at all levels of the organization.
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