Biggest Barriers to Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

Biggest Barriers to Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

Most of us are well-intentioned, well-meaning people who wish to work harmoniously with our colleagues, subordinates, and bosses. However, we may be surprised to learn that our subconscious beliefs and perceptions of others affect our behavior and choices in subtle but powerful ways. 

If your organization is like most others, you’ve been making serious efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. After all, you don’t want to miss out on the host of other benefits of workplace inclusivity. 

But here’s the problem: Sometimes you may have been investing serious effort into building an inclusive workplace, but the results are not showing? There may be no doubt that the leadership is making a sincere effort to promote inclusion in the workplace but this is not filtering through down the line. 

Without being consciously aware, management often trips up its own efforts in these major ways: 

1. Management Has Allocated Responsibility but Not Accountability to Achieve Inclusivity Goals 

Most management leaders have delegated responsibility for diversity and inclusivity programs to recruitment or in-house HR departments. The recruitment department may focus on hiring x number of diverse employees but they do not think it necessary to gather information on their performance, comfort level or engagement levels of these diverse employees. 

Human Resource departments, who see their function as monitoring employee wellbeing are usually disconnected from recruitment strategies. All departments in the organization need to be aligned in order to achieve inclusivity and diversity goals. 

2. Management has focussed on Outcomes and Not Just Activities 

Your diversity initiatives probably depend on standard metrics such as event sponsorships, resumes collected or mentoring programs.  Many managers count these initiatives as proof of commitment to change. 

However, these are inputs and not outcomes. 

If you are committed to creating an inclusive workplace, you need to formulate objectives and define clear methods to get there. Leadership needs to review the organizational diversity and inclusion strategy and consider it on the same lines of a core business operating plan. 

For example, outline what diversity success would seem like five years from now and define clear metrics that will help you achieve those goals. 

3. Management imagines that Changing Culture is a simple process

Hiring a member of a minority group for a high-profile role or time-stamping a one-time sensitivity seminar is not going to help you change company culture. Culture shifts happen very slowly and the results show up over months or even years. 

You can accelerate the rate of progress by ensuring that deserving diverse employees start appearing in the company leadership ranks. Focus on improving the promotion and appreciation of under-represented groups in your organization. Doing this will help foster change in company culture. 

4. A Minority Member  is catapulted into a High Visibility Role

If a minority group employee is suddenly catapulted into a high-powered corporate role without having had time to prepare, they often feel lost. As with all employees (diverse or non-diverse), training, experience, and preparation is critical before you allocate higher levels of responsibility.

A lone leader from a diverse group may become risk-averse being aware of having been thrust too rapidly into a  high-profile role. A better plan would be to promote high-performing line executives into leadership roles by grooming them for their new responsibilities.

Avoid springing an employee into a high-profile role just to showcase diversity. 

5. Bullying Issues

Unfortunately, bullying in the Australian workplace is much more prevalent than we’d like to admit. Management needs to take immediate action against those who indulge in disrupting someone else’s work, sending out hate mails, aggressive shouting or yelling or circulating inappropriate content on social media. 

We, at Symmetra, can tailor a customized workplace harassment training program for employees that will help minimize bias and reinforce inclusivity. Contact us today for our targeted diversity and inclusion toolkits, strategies and training programs. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *