This is the third blog post in a four-part series about the importance of strengthening employees’ connection to company purpose to drive employee engagement.
Today we’ll focus on ways we can drive engagement to your purpose by elevating diversity and inclusion.
Broadly speaking, diversity means ensuring representation among employees across race, age, ethnicity, gender, religion and other differentiators. Inclusion is a state of feeling valued, respected and supported. Combined, diversity and inclusion is a powerful driver of innovation and is today considered an essential driver of business success. In fact, McKinsey research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their peers, and ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to do the same.
Diversity & inclusion isn’t just about promoting a workplace filled with a diversity of backgrounds and experience; it’s also a key foundation for a variety of employee-centric benefits and initiatives like leadership programs for women, parental leave policies, working parent coaching programs and alternative work schedules.
Given the link between these types of programs and employee satisfaction and retention, it’s easy to see why elevating diversity & inclusion is essential to a successful employee engagement strategy. When employees feel that they can bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to a supportive, inclusive workplace that values them, they’ll be more engaged to collaborate with others and will connect more easily to your company’s purpose. They’ll know that no matter who they are and where they come from, they can contribute to the purpose in their own, unique ways.
Diversity & Inclusion training and communications are essential
Bringing a renewed emphasis on diversity & inclusion to the workplace isn’t without its challenges. You may face some resistance to change (“We’ve always done things this way”) from more tenured employees, and you may find that not everyone shares the same understanding of what diversity & inclusion actually is or the value it delivers to each individual or company.
Your first order of business should be to gather a baseline understanding of where your company is in terms of its diversity & inclusion strategy and communicating it. An excellent tool for getting started is the EDGE Certification Standard, an assessment methodology that helps businesses identify their strengths and areas for improvement in diversity and gender equality. It assesses policies, practices, and numbers across different areas of analysis including recruitment and promotion, flexible working and company culture. It also shows your employees and potential new employees that your company genuinely cares about diversity & inclusion that it is willing to define standards.
Once you have a holistic picture of the diversity & inclusion opportunities and challenges at your company, you can craft and target your training and communications strategies accordingly. Your approaches could include traditional training programs as well as the use of video content, guest speakers, employee profiles, targeted communications based on audience segments, and an enhanced employee benefits programs.
The underlying message should reinforce the role diversity & inclusion plays in business performance and how it connects to the company’s purpose and business strategy. That means not just talking about diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and so on, but how diversity of thought leads to innovation and better connections to the consumer. And ultimately, when your employees are better connected to the consumer, they’re better connected to the company purpose.
Put diversity & inclusion front and center
As the workplace continues to evolve, the need grows for engagement programs that put diversity & inclusion front and center as means to attract, hire and retain the right employees. Make sure you have a deep understanding of your company’s diversity & inclusion programs and factor them into your communication strategies. As employees connect to diversity & inclusion, so will they connect to the company purpose—which in turn drives them to do their best work.
If you missed the first few posts in the Engaging Employees in Your Company Purpose: 4 Key Drivers & Why They Matter series be sure to check them out in the links below and stay tuned for the last post.