Here are Five Symptoms Signalling a Lack of Inclusivity in your Organization

By Heidi R. Andersen

Dear CEO,

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the bedrock of a thriving, innovative, and productive workplace. It is proven that when inclusion works and thrives – so will performance. As the leader of your organization, it is imperative to recognize the significance of how you and the leaders in your organization act and communicate – verbally and non-verbally – around inclusivity, equity, and diversity. Ask yourself; are you and the rest of the leaders in your organization inclusive leaders? Do you walk the talk? And what would your employees say, especially women and minorities if you ask them? The thing is; when diversity and inclusion are lacking within your company’s culture, it can manifest in several symptoms that trip your growth, damage your reputation, and adversely affect employee morale, churn, and recruiting.

This article serves as a call to action, highlighting the five symptoms telling you that you have a problem that you must address to create a stronger, more innovative, and resilient organization.

1. People are leaving you

Do you have a high rate of employees resigning, and are you struggling to replace the talents?

A high turnover rate, particularly among underrepresented groups, is a red flag. It suggests that employees do not feel valued or comfortable within your organization. When talented individuals leave due to a perceived lack of diversity and inclusion, your organization loses valuable human capital, damages its reputation, and incurs recruitment and training costs.

Engagement and commitment from employees are critical for your organization’s success. A culture lacking diversity, equity, and inclusion can lead to lower engagement levels. Employees who do not feel valued or heard may become disengaged, leading to decreased productivity and a negative workplace atmosphere.

In organizations without diversity and inclusion, underrepresented groups often find it challenging to access leadership roles, causing them to leave for better opportunities. The lack of diverse voices in 3. decision-making processes can hinder your organization’s ability to adapt, innovate, and effectively respond to a changing marketplace.

2. You look the same

If you feel innovation and creativity are lacking in your organization, you want to take a good look at the composition of your organization. Do you all look the same? Or do more than 70% of you?

Having a workforce predominantly composed of employees from a single demographic group can have advantages in terms of quick decision-making and fewer conflicts due to group thinking. However, the ability for creativity and innovation in a team tends to suffer and can hurt success because your collected perspective is blind to many options and angles. Diverse perspectives and backgrounds are invaluable assets that drive problem-solving and decision-making.

When diversity is lacking in an organization, there may be a noticeable absence of creativity and forward-thinking. Homogeneous cultures tend to perpetuate the status quo, impeding the development of ground-breaking ideas and solutions that can drive growth and competitiveness.

>> Maybe this will interest you: 9 Reasons Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter

3. Minorities and women don’t feel safe

Are you finding yourself mitigating frequent disagreements or conflicts, or do you experience a high rate of employee absence, tidiness, lack of initiative, or participation?

In a non-inclusive culture, minorities and women may experience microaggressions, biases, or even overt discrimination. It creates a hostile work environment, leading to stress, discomfort, conflicts, lack of productivity, and, ultimately, employees leaving you. It could also hurt your organization’s reputation, weakening your results and ability to recruit the best talents.

Some employees may feel isolated and excluded from social and professional networks within your organization. It hampers their career growth and disrupts effective collaboration and teamwork. Building inclusive networks is vital for organizational success.

4. Your reputation suffers

Is it becoming increasingly difficult to hit sales goals and forge new partnerships with other stakeholders, investors, and businesses?

Consumers, stakeholders, and partners today value diversity and inclusivity and may choose not to engage with or support organizations perceived as exclusionary.

We are already seeing companies requiring their vendors to work actively with inclusion. Equally, DEI has become a parameter for due diligence when investors evaluate potential acquisitions. Failure to address these issues brings damage to your organization’s brand. A bad reputation can have long-lasting negative consequences.

>> Maybe you also want to read: 10 Actions You Can Take as an Inclusive Leader to Successfully Manage Diverse Teams

5. Your employees lack initiative and independence

Are you experiencing your employees refraining from making decisions on their own?

Inclusive leaders create an environment of respect and inclusivity, which empowers their team members to take initiative, drive innovation, and move the business forward independently. In contrast, exclusive leaders often unknowingly impede this initiative, causing employees to look to their managers for decisions. This reliance on top-down guidance can create bottlenecks, stifling innovation, and hindering progress.

Inclusive leadership becomes a catalyst for the full potential of a diverse workforce, while exclusive leadership can inadvertently hinder growth, erode morale, and compromise competitiveness. As CEOs, it is pivotal to recognize this dynamic and create inclusive leadership to nurture a culture of initiative and progress within your organization.

Start your inclusive journey now!

Are you recognizing one or more of the symptoms above? Take the first steps towards a healthier company culture. A good start is to benchmark the status quo through an inclusion survey. It will enable you to spot the challenges and help you prioritize your efforts.

Next: Expand your leadership skills to become a more inclusive leader and actively promote DEI, implementing policies and practices that encourage equity and belonging for all employees. You are creating an environment that celebrates diversity, and everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. And make sure all leaders do.

Kind regards

Heidi R. Andersen

>> Read more about Inclusive leadership here