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Aligning Inclusivity and Belonging with Corporate Values: Building a Stronger and More Resilient Organization

Kanarys Staff


With the Supreme Court decision to end affirmative action policies in colleges, companies are considering whether they need to change their DEI strategies. The short answer is they don’t. But it is a good time to review corporate values, personnel policies, and engage with employees on these issues. Organizations that prioritize diversity, inclusivity, and equity not only foster a more supportive and empowering work environment but also enhance their reputation, attract top talent, and drive innovation. And employees value DEIB efforts, which means companies should too. A smart approach is to explore the importance of aligning inclusivity, equity and belonging with corporate values, and then we delve into practical strategies for building a stronger and more resilient organization. Currently, 78% of employees surveyed by Kanarys agree their organization prioritizes DEIB as part of their overall organizational strategy. 

Understanding Inclusivity, Equity and Belonging

Before we explore the alignment with corporate values, it is crucial to grasp the essence of inclusivity, equity and belonging. Inclusivity, equity, and belonging are interrelated concepts that form the foundation of a healthy and progressive work culture. Inclusivity entails creating an environment where every individual, regardless of their background, identity, or beliefs, feels respected, valued, and included. Equity emphasizes fairness and impartiality in providing equal opportunities and resources to all employees, taking into account the diverse challenges they may face. Belonging goes beyond mere inclusion and centers on fostering a sense of connection, acceptance, and camaraderie among all team members.

The Impact of Inclusivity, Equity and Belonging on Corporate Culture

When employees feel included and know that they are treated fairly, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to the organization's goals. A diverse and inclusive workforce brings together varied perspectives, resulting in more creative problem-solving and a richer pool of innovative ideas. Moreover, a welcoming culture reduces employee turnover and fosters loyalty, as employees feel a sense of belonging and purpose within the organization. Such a positive culture also leads to a stronger employer brand, attracting top talent who seek workplaces that prioritize diversity and fairness. Underlying all this is employee well-being. A culture that prioritizes inclusivity and equity fosters a sense of psychological safety and emotional well-being among employees. This, in turn, leads to improved job satisfaction, reduced stress, and better overall health.

Building Corporate Values that Embrace Inclusivity, Equity and Belonging

To effectively align corporate values with inclusivity, equity, and belonging, organizations must take concrete actions. Here are strategies for aligning corporate values:

  1. Establish a Clear Mission and Vision: Craft a mission and vision statement that explicitly articulates the company's commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity, equity, and belonging. That begins by clearly defining the values and objectives, which should then be reflected in the company's mission statement and communicated consistently across all channels.
  2. Leadership Commitment: Secure buy-in from top leadership and executives to demonstrate a collective commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace. Most importantly, leaders should embody these values in their actions, decisions, and interactions, setting an example for the rest of the organization. Interestingly, Kanarys has found that employees seem to perceive their immediate manager to have a stronger commitment to DEIB than their senior leadership or organization as a whole. 
  3. Assess and Address Bias: Conduct regular assessments of hiring, promotion, and compensation practices to identify and address any unconscious biases that may hinder the organization's progress toward inclusivity and equity. The key to sustaining DEIB progress and commitment is to use data to eliminate discrimination, remove bias, and create fairer workplaces. Data comes in many forms including numerical, quantitative data (e.g. racial data) and qualitative data (e.g. comments, feedback). All of this data is critical for analysis and making informed decisions.
  4. Diverse Hiring and Promotion: Actively seek out diverse candidates during the hiring process and create a fair and transparent system for promotions. A good example is the use of diverse interview panels which are beneficial for both hiring companies and prospective employees. Research shows that diverse interview panels are more likely to result in diverse candidates in the final pool when women and people of color are included in the interview process. Of those surveyed by Kanarys, 70% of employees agree that their organizational hiring team is diverse. In addition, implement bias training for hiring managers to eliminate unconscious biases and ensure equal opportunities for all.
  5. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Encourage the formation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that provide safe spaces for employees with shared experiences or backgrounds to connect, share ideas, and contribute to the company's diversity initiatives.
  6. Training and Development: Offer ongoing, evidence-based training and development programs focused on inclusivity, cultural competence, and unconscious bias for all employees. Currently, 67% of employees surveyed by Kanarys report that their organization provides DEIB, but only 55% of employees feel these trainings are effective. These initiatives not only raise awareness but empower employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote cultural competence, and foster empathy among team members.
  7. Inclusive Policies and Benefits: Review existing policies and benefits to ensure they are inclusive and equitable. Offer flexible work arrangements, inclusive healthcare benefits, and support systems that cater to the diverse needs of employees.
  8. Partnerships and Community Engagement: Extend inclusivity, equity and belonging beyond the organization's walls by fostering partnerships with diverse suppliers and supporting community initiatives that promote diversity and social equality. Engaging with external organizations that share similar values helps reinforce the company's commitment to inclusivity and equity while making a positive impact on the broader community.

Accountability, Transparency and Measuring Impact

One of the biggest issues is the lack of alignment between executives who believe companies are progressing on inclusion, and employees who are far less optimistic. Aligning inclusivity and equity with corporate values requires accountability and transparency. Measuring the success of inclusivity, equity, and belonging initiatives is crucial to understanding the impact and refining strategies. And regularly communicating the progress made and the challenges faced is just as important to keep all stakeholders informed and engaged.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) may include:

  • Representation Metrics: Track the representation of diverse groups in the workforce, at various levels, and across departments.
  • Employee Engagement: Measure employee satisfaction and engagement through surveys and feedback mechanisms.
  • Turnover and Retention Rates: Monitor turnover rates, especially among underrepresented groups, to assess the organization's ability to retain diverse talent.
  • Employee Development: Measure the participation of employees in training programs and mentorship opportunities.
  • Inclusive Culture Perception: Conduct anonymous surveys to gauge employees' perception of the organization's inclusivity and commitment to equity.

Aligning inclusivity, equity, and belonging with corporate values is a transformative journey that requires dedication, empathy, and genuine effort. By creating an inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued and heard, organizations live and breathe these principles foster a more inclusive and innovative work environment, attract top talent, higher employee engagement and enhance their reputation. Embracing these principles not only fosters a culture of respect and support but also paves the way for sustainable growth, innovation, and success. Ultimately, by aligning corporate values with inclusivity, equity, and belonging, businesses can create a positive impact for their employees, stakeholders, and society as a whole.​​​​​​​

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