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Why Inclusive Work Cultures Matter—And How Your Organization Can Create Them

July 7, 2015In the business world, perfectionism, power, and competitiveness are often glorified. Many companies want to be perceived as stronger and better than their competitors. But what some of them fail to realize is that when these behaviors seep into their organizational cultures and influence the ways employees interact with one another, their high-potential employees may head for the door.

According to the findings featured in Catalyst’s new Mind Your Culture Gap infographic, both women and men high potentials surveyed want inclusive work cultures that emphasize integrity and collaboration, and encourage them to both achieve their potential and support others. These “constructive behaviors” are much preferred over more “aggressive” ones that emphasize perfectionism, power, competition, and opposition. Moreover, when organizational cultures are more “constructive,” employees are more likely to say they are satisfied with their current organizations and that they plan to stay there in the coming year. 

So the answer is simple: if companies want to attract and retain the best and the brightest, they need to foster the behaviors that these employees value most. But just how can they accomplish that?

Catalyst’s  second new report, Think People, Not Just Programs, to Build Inclusive Workplaces, highlights  some of the ways  companies can create work environments where employees feel included and see their organizations making progress.  Here are a few to put in practice:

Demonstrate company values.

Show what your organization stands for and help employees feel connected to company values. To do so requires understanding what an employee values most and articulating how that connects to the company’s values, which creates a sense of alignment. Nearly 50% of employees surveyed felt a stronger sense of inclusion when they felt personally attached to their company’s core values.

Show how you’re making change in the world.

People want to feel that their company is having a meaningful impact on society—whether through making a difference in the lives of its customers or in the broader community in which it operates. More than 62% of employees who strongly believed that their company was making a meaningful impact also reported feeling included at work at higher levels.

Cultivate champions throughout the company.

Creating an inclusive work culture is an all-hands-on-deck job, requiring commitment from individuals at every level of the organization. When employees see their peers, managers, and senior leaders actively modeling an inclusive work culture, they see progress—which helps employees know that an inclusive workplace is possible for everyone.

Foster dialogue

When we don’t have a voice, we don’t feel included. Companies need to establish pathways that foster open dialogue and transparency about change processes, practices, and policies. Organizations also need to tap into employees’ abilities to contribute to critical decisions while in the process of building an inclusive work culture. By doing so, employees become part of the solution and their viewpoints are heard—whether through sharing best practices or engaging in focus groups where leaders and employees across levels can chat about concerns. So don’t be afraid to grab a cup of coffee with a member of your team, or schedule larger town hall meetings to create a culture where everyone’s voice matters. When employees had opportunities to engage with senior leaders and share their views across levels, they not only felt more included, but they perceived that their organization was making greater progress in creating an inclusive work environment for all.

Want to become a more inclusive leader? Catalyst’s free edX course, Inclusive Leadership Training: Becoming a Successful Leader starts today; register here.

Is your company taking steps to help employees feel more valued and included? Share examples in the comments section below.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.