Having a company culture that is robust may have helped your business stay afloat through the political and medical strife that has hounded us these past many months. But even if that culture was healthy prior to 2020, it probably warrants re-examination in order to stay in line with changing times and community needs because of the unrest and uncertainty with which this year has presented us. We’ve learned that company culture requires maintenance in order for a business to be successful and for its workers to remain productive and feel fulfilled. In fact, many people are discovering that the culture at their company needs more work than they may have previously thought.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential when creating, maintaining, and growing a more productive work environment. In a simplistic sense, diversity refers to more unique perspectives at the table, equity means having a voice at that table, and inclusion denotes accepting, embracing, and encouraging the differences, strengths, and involvement of those at the table. It’s important to note that these terms aren’t static, which is why now is the perfect time to review the DEI practices and policies in your organization. Expand the guest list so that a more sustainable mix sits at your table.
Importantly, some business owners are learning that employing a more diverse workforce is not only something that should be considered, but that DEI should be viewed as a priority. When only a company’s surface level diversity requirements are fulfilled (e.g., hiring a certain number of women or persons of color in order to meet a quota) and not an authentic desire to recruit and retain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, then committed leadership has a duty to be looking more closely at how keeping DEI at the forefront during the hiring process can benefit an organization in myriad ways.
Diagnose and Treat
The current climate has unexpectedly stress-tested businesses. But it’s also offered organizations the opportunity to use everything that’s happening as an X-ray that allows leaders to see fractures in an organization that would have eventually caused problems – as well as some fissures that were already causing issues that leaders might not have been aware of.
Astute leaders would do well to seize this opportunity to generate performance developments. What’s exciting to note is that those hairline cracks can be healed and the bones of an organization strengthened no matter the physical location of each worker. In other words, employees working from home as well as in a traditional business environment can thrive in a company whose leaders are willing – and eager, if I may be so bold – to initiate and influence a decisive forging of a business’s policy on DEI. Your work from home workforce needs just as much proactive development as those who work in the office. In short, retaining your company’s culture requires leadership commitment and community involvement, employee personal development and retention programs, and horizontal and vertical promotional initiatives.
Strategic leadership is needed to implement large scale organizational changes to sustain and build progress within an organization. The collective power that leaders have to construct a more diverse business is impressive – should they choose to wield it. Research has shown, though, that diversity and inclusion are not a priority for many businesses. Leaders would do well to develop a timeline for progress on the DEI landscape, create and foster an environment that supports the kinds of changes needed to grow, implement an incentive strategy, and establish who will be held accountable.
Viewing the current time as an unparalleled opportunity for business owners to effect significant changes within an organization could very well be that which enables employees to thrive and perform in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional environment like never before. And not merely present a superficial impression of diversity.