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5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity

Developing your Company Culture: 4 Key Principles 

Join us for a 4-part series that explores developing your company culture and taking your organization to the next level.

  1. A Culture of Impactful Leadership
  2. Continuous Development – The Path to Employee Engagement & Retention
  3. 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity
  4. 6 Secrets to Purposeful Collaboration & Equitable Experiences – Coming soon!

Part 3: 5 Simple Steps to Foster Inclusion & Diversity

The business case for committing to diversity & inclusion is compelling. It has been shown that companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%). This innovation-related advantage also translates into overall better financial performance. It follows that with the workforce becoming increasingly diverse across all categories, 57% of workers believe that employers should be doing more to increase workplace diversity. A study by McKinsey demonstrated that gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated with profitability.

Furthermore, when you bring people with diverse backgrounds together, it drives innovation. Instead of collaborating with a team of homogenous people – all with the same education, thinking, and background – the diversity of circumstances, ideas, and perspectives leads to enhanced problem solving and advancements in innovation.

When you diversify your employee base, your company culture benefits from the wealth of those perspectives, experiences, and approaches to problem solving. Diverse backgrounds include gender and ethnicity, but also age & generation, gender & gender identity, sexual orientation, religion & spiritual beliefs, disability, education, and socioeconomic status & background.

Diversity is a powerful force to drive revenue and profitability. Here’s how you can foster diversity in your organization.

Simple Solutions to Foster Diversity

  1. Offer Diverse Benefits

Organizations can foster a welcoming environment to diversity by offering benefits that are inclusive. Employers should address the gaps and disparities in benefit plan offerings to optimize the health, productivity, well-being, and financial protection of underrepresented groups. This might mean providing benefits that don’t just cater to a heterosexual married couple with two kids. Building an inclusive benefits package shows employees, and prospective employees, that the company isn’t just talking about DEI – it’s taking action, making investments, and enacting changes.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at HealthEdge have led to a conscious decision this year to enhance our US benefits package with more inclusive offerings. This includes things like infertility services, gender affirming services, travel & lodging reimbursement to ensure employees have access to covered women’s health services, and an increased parental bonding leave policy from 4 weeks to 14 weeks for birth and adoptive parents.

  1. Seek talent with diverse backgrounds

Understand the current composition of your workforce – look at it by type, role, and function. Determine how you can diversify, and how you can attract/appeal to different candidate pools. Make it a goal to have a diverse pool of candidates to pull from. A hybrid/virtual workforce can help with this – when you expand your geographic boundary for hiring you get a broader pool of diverse candidates.

  1. Educate your hiring managers

Hiring diverse candidates can take a little longer – which is why it’s crucial to educate your hiring managers on why diverse candidates are so important. Help them understand the business case for hiring diverse candidates and why it’s worth the investment in time and effort.

  1. Foster an Environment of Inclusion & Belonging

It’s critical to create a work environment where people feel like they can bring their most authentic self and highest potential to work. What good is it to hire for diversity if your employees don’t feel like they can be themselves – where the work environment doesn’t support diversity. This is where inclusion and belonging come into play. Create an environment that fosters and welcomes diversity.

  1. Internal Inclusion Best Practices

There are many ways to make diverse employees feel included in the organization:

  • Create a community for them to be a part of. At HealthEdge, we have an iBelong group that seeks to include employees throughout the organization with ongoing virtual chats and a monthly event. Events serve to provide awareness and education in an interesting and engaging way.  The community also offers a safe space to seek support and discuss challenging topics.
  • Educate managers on how to make employees feel welcome within their group. For example, recognize there are introverts and extroverts in our Zoom meetings. A simple technique during meetings is to present a topic and give everyone a minute to think about it before soliciting a response. Another is to go around the table during a discussion and give everyone a chance to contribute – not just the most loquacious extroverts.
  • Encourage managers to build 1:1 relationship with their team members to build trust and provide support throughout their career journey.

Diversity & inclusion is a powerful way to increase revenue, profitability, and innovation. Learn more about HealthEdge’s culture of belonging here.

About the Author

Heather Bender brings over 25 years experience to HealthEdge. She joins us from iRobot, where she served as Vice President of Talent. In that role, she was responsible for leading the efforts to elevate and renew the company’s talent strategies and culture as iRobot transformed to a consumer technology company. Heather was responsible for the global HR Business Partner teams, Talent Management, Organizational Development, Learning and Development and Diversity & Inclusion programs. Prior to iRobot, Heather held HR Business Partner roles at Nokia, working the transition of the mobile phone business to Microsoft, and then moved to HERE Technologies, a privately-held location services software business spun out by Nokia. At HERE she led the global HR Business Partner organization, ran global HR operations, and assisted with building out a new set of learning, leadership and talent programs. Heather lives in Hollis, NH, with her husband, Andrew and three children. With two in college, they are moving towards being empty nesters and travel as much as possible.

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