The conversation about why diverse and inclusive work environments are important is everywhere. It’s most definitely a good thing, and something that we at Clear Books highly value. 

Strong businesses are built around the idea that a company excels with a diverse team who possess unique experiences, strengths, and assets. We know that when team members feel valued for who they are — both as employees and as people — they experience higher satisfaction at work and are more likely to stay with your company. 

It’s a true win-win.

Nobody (we hope!) sets out to create a non-inclusive workplace. Yet inclusive, functional teams are no accident. When you’re at the phase of levelling up your business — perhaps expanding your staff or into new markets — it’s the perfect time to take stock.  

How will you intentionally cultivate a workplace where diversity and inclusion are at the core of your business culture?

Read on to find out why inclusive workplaces are better for business — and where to start.

Diverse workplace, inclusive workplace — what’s the difference?

The words ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ frequently get tossed around together, so let’s start with some definitions. Here’s how they’re different.

A commitment to diversity is when employers actively seek out employees who are of different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, races, sexual orientations, and gender identities.

Building an inclusive workplace is what comes next, and it’s a critical step that’s often overlooked. An inclusive workplace is an environment where all members of your team are willing to share their perspectives — especially ones that may be different or divergent from your own.

A team can’t be a monoculture. 

If you’re operating  inside a vacuum of hive-minded conformists, you’ll likely end up with a single perspective. If you’re seeking a team that generates ideas, builds unique strategies, and improves business outcomes, a diverse team is your best bet.

If you want to retain that diverse, strong team you’ve created, a culture of inclusion is essential.

Start from the top — the inclusive workplace starts with you.  

Inclusive work environments may start organically, in pockets or departments, but most likely you’ll set the tone at the top.

Start with examining your own biases. And bias doesn’t have to be a dirty word — we all have them. The trouble is, biases are often invisible or unconscious, based on those quick judgments we may not even realise we’ve made, or judgments that conform to stereotypes.

What’s tricky is learning how to identify your own biases and judgments. You’ll need some help. 

Ask team members for their feedback and perspectives when you’re developing new products, considering new markets, or considering making changes to how your business operates. 

Let’s say you’re considering a later start to your staff’s workday. You’re thinking of the convenience of avoiding the busiest commuting times — and it would be much easier to get your children off to school without such a rush. When you solicit input from your team, you learn that someone has a second job that would conflict with a later start, and another person attends religious services. On a small team, this type of feedback might impact your decision.  

You don’t have to seek input at every turn — at meaningful moments, however, it demonstrates your commitment to inclusion and, as a bonus, builds trust in you as a leader who wants to make the best decisions.

Fostering an inclusive culture with mentorship.

Have you ever been the new employee who hangs their coat on the wrong hook? The hook that everyone else knows is always used by one (very) particular co-worker? That’s usually not the type of orientation a new hire is likely to receive — but certainly is useful information that will help ease their transition.

When you’ve been inside your workplace for a while, it’s easy to become accustomed to the quirks of your workplace culture and operations. Like bias, these quirks are hard to see after a while.

Instead of expecting your new employee to figure out these workplace subtleties on their own, help them out by pairing them up with a mentor.

A mentorship program establishes an inclusive culture from the get-go. A mentor brings your new employee up to speed on the things that aren’t included in your SOP manual, taking orientation a step beyond the training they’ll need to perform their job. It shows your new employee that you want them to succeed with their team, in addition to their job responsibilities.

You’ll need to identify the right mentor — frequently this is someone who really knows the ropes of your business but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a senior member of the team. Your ideal mentor is collaborative, keen to share their knowledge, and focused on helping your new employee find success.

Mentors can also help their mentee to identify growth areas — since not everyone feels confident making sales calls, justifying expense reports, or learning new software. A mentor doesn’t hold the mentee’s hand through every step (because they have their own job to do), but provides resources or support as needed. If a new hire wants to enhance their knowledge of accounting, for example, a mentor could point their mentee towards Clear Books’ free library of resources — videos, podcasts, and white papers — in addition to our help guides and online tutorials.

Mentoring is a winning strategy for your business because you’ll be more likely to retain new employees when they feel included from the start.

We’ve got you.

At Clear Books, inclusion is the way we do business. This is a value that drives what we do, including making even the daunting field of accounting accessible to all types of businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, and sole traders.

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Clear Books is an award-winning online accounting & payroll software for small businesses. 

Clear Books Payroll makes it easy to calculate pay, produce payslips, track employee absences and report to HMRC. Save time and pay all your staff at once with our click-to-pay feature in Clear Books.

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Posted by Clear Books