It’s January. We all set new year resolutions, confident that this year things are going to be different. As the weeks and months go by, we fall right back into those old habits. Those same feelings re-emerge scrolling through the social feeds during the month of June; Pride Month. Everyone is celebrating diversity with colorful rainbows, events, t-shirts, and more. At GAN, we say diversity should be celebrated and embraced every month of the year and have therefore taken the opportunity to reflect upon and improve the different practices and initiatives that could help foster diversity and inclusion within our organization.
What does Diversity & Inclusion mean for businesses?
While pride month reminds us of some important dimensions of diversity including gender and sexual orientation, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) practices encompass a wider range of backgrounds and nuances in nationality, religion, age, race, neuro diversity, disability, socioeconomic background, and more.
D&I practices in the corporate world refer to organizational efforts and practices that promote the equal treatment, acceptance and welcoming of people within those different dimensions of diversity. Companies should embrace differences amongst their workforce, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because they will also see the benefits of diversity and inclusion in their bottom line. In fact, studies have shown that diverse leadership teams financially outperform their competitors; According to Boston Consulting Group, companies with diverse management teams have a stronger ability to innovate and thereby generate 19% higher revenues.
Nonetheless, ensuring that different backgrounds are represented in a company’s workforce is not always conclusive to inclusion. While quantifying feelings of inclusion amongst employees can be difficult, studies cited in the Harvard Business Review, suggest that concrete initiatives are vital to ensuring that everyone feels included.
Start Small, Think Big
While appreciating the value of diverse, fair, and respectful workplaces, it’s also important to recognize that organizations of different sizes have different realities, challenges, and resources, which inherently impose different approaches to the matter. Luckily, there is no magic formula to ensure more diversity and inclusion in business, and no one-size-fits-all initiative will be equally successful for every company.
D&I practices can stretch from small elements of an organization to large-scale structural programs and initiatives. The important message to retain is that every effort counts. To borrow the words of the author Tony Robbins “People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed.” It’s, therefore, crucial to ensure that there is equal opportunity for people from all walks of life to succeed and make an impact. Make sure that every voice is heard and every idea and opinion is evaluated, welcomed, or rejected based on objective grounds and arguments.
This blog looks at how companies can translate equal opportunity into concrete corporate initiatives and review some of the initial steps they can take to promote and establish more diversity and inclusion amongst their employee population.
Encoding Diversity & Inclusion into Company Policies
When it comes to establishing values and ethical behavior within an organization, policies are crucial in setting the standards. The code of conduct, the most common company policy, lays out the company’s principles, standards, and the moral and ethical expectations that employees and third parties are held to as they interact with and within the organization.
Having a strong code of conduct that advocates for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and states what is encouraged in terms of inclusion, collaboration is a basic element of any D&I program. This lets employees know where the organization stands on these issues, and promotes an open working environment.
In practice, this can mean clearly articulating a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination of any kind. Companies may seek input from diverse talent when drafting these policies giving more credibility to the program. That said, appreciating that a code of conduct is a living document that should be periodically revised and adapted to accommodate more diverse work environments is a fundamental element of encouraging inclusion in the workplace.
Fostering a Diverse Culture
Much like building a conscious culture, building an inclusive culture begins with defining clear purposes and aligning internal procedures and policies to ensure consistency with the organization's ethical compass. Once companies have outlined their framework and approach on this important topic, they can take many different steps towards building a culture of diversity and inclusion, some simpler than others, yet the importance is to have long-term goals and establish accountability.
One important element of building an inclusive workplace is training. D&I training can take many shapes and forms each of which can focus on an area of the umbrella topic, yet most diversity and inclusion programs must include training on unconscious bias. Unconscious bias refers to the unconscious prejudices that may lead to assumptions of other people based on their race, gender, age, or other dimensions of diversity. Unconscious bias training helps individuals become conscious of these prejudices and encourages the proactive promotion of inclusive thinking in their daily lives.
Once training has been rolled out, companies must monitor the impact and success of the program. An important element of successful D&I training is keeping track of metrics related to participation, engagement, and change in behavior. Tracking training completion rates and regularly testing employee’s knowledge and appreciation are just a few of the means.
Tracking metrics however, is not only important for training programs but for every other D&I initiative you might decide to deploy in your organization. For example, other important metrics might include looking at the percentage of diversity in your organization across time to measure the success of diverse hiring initiatives, or keeping track of the details of the promotions that are taking place at your organization, just to name a few. If you for instance spot that mostly men are getting promoted, when the general population of your organization is also largely composed of women, it might be a sign that more positive action and transparency is needed in the promotion process.
Ensuring that Policies are Implemented
Another important element of an inclusive culture is making sure that everybody is heard. Fostering, therefore, a culture where flagging discrimination is encouraged and where complaints are taken seriously is essential. To those ends, companies must make sure that they have a robust whistleblowing system in place to handle, investigate, and remediate discrimination complaints.
A whistleblowing program should also allow anonymous reports via multiple reporting channels; these can include a hotline with online intake or teleophy intake options. By using tools as whistleblowing software, you will protect the reporter and deploy a much more consistent approach to case management to ensure that incidents are being followed upon in a timely manner.
Our Path Towards Inclusion
At GAN, we began our journey towards a fair and respectful culture by embedding diversity and inclusion principles in our code of conduct. We have clearly communicated the company’s stance towards diversity internally and added it with pride to every one of our job postings.
All GAN employees have gone through ethics and compliance training where the principles of our code of conduct are explained and put into a real-life context with interactive scenarios. And because we understand that inclusivity also means being heard, we have established an internal whistleblowing platform where GAN employees are able to safely speak up when they experience or witness any form of discrimination or harassment, or suspect a breach of our code of ethics and business conduct.
While these initiatives are just the beginning - we have started small. We need to be continuously working to make our culture more inclusive - this includes conducting more and better training on this topic, reviewing our recruiting and hiring practices and so on. All of these initiatives ensure that we are “doing the right thing” for our employees and our business.
'At GAN, we are committed to creating a culture where inclusivity is the norm. As a company that has employees from a myriad of cultural backgrounds, we are inherently committed to establishing a culture that promotes inclusiveness, transparency, and equity. As part of our D&I journey, we strive to advance internal policies and activities that bring these values to life in our daily teamwork.' - Anna O'Leary, Head of People at GAN Integrity.