Strive for an Inclusive Work Environment to Build Engagement, Boost Productivity

By Jenny DeFranco posted 05-24-2024 08:32 AM


Employers can focus on enhancing diversity, belonging, and psychological safety to create a competitive advantage of high productivity and engaging work environments.

What do diversity, inclusion, and psychological safety mean in the workplace? 

  • Diversity is more than race. Diversity describes who is represented in our workplaces. Diversity includes ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, neurodiversity, religious beliefs, languages, traditions, and experiences. 

  • Inclusion is about the experiences of our employees. Inclusion refers to fair and equitable workplaces that allow all employees to feel valued and respected and where we all belong. In other words, it’s inviting people to the table. 

  • Psychological safety is knowing that employees can show up as themselves, ask questions, share ideas, disagree (respectfully), and have hard conversations without fear of retaliation. 

Why Do Diversity and Inclusion Matter? 

Diverse organizations that focus on inclusion and belonging can better meet challenges, adapt to changes, recruit hard-to-fill positions, meet financial goals, and address the needs of various customer bases. Take a look at the following figures:

  • “Highly inclusive companies are more likely to hit their financial target goals by up to 120%,” according to this Forbes article.

  • Boston Consulting Group study discovered that companies with diverse management teams had 19 percentage points higher innovation revenues than companies with below-average diversity scores.

  • Looking for highly engaged and productive talent? A McKinsey survey found that “Thirty-nine percent of all respondents say they have turned down or decided not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at the organization.” Organizations focused on inclusion will naturally widen their recruiting pool, making those hard-to-fill jobs less daunting.

Moving Forward

How do organizations move toward a more inclusive work environment? 

First, let’s get curious. You can incorporate inclusion with your stay interviews. Ask employees pointed questions to see what is working and what challenges they are facing. Invite and involve your employees in all conversations about inclusion. 

Creating psychological safety at work takes intention. Some action steps leaders can take are admitting and discussing mistakes, openly addressing challenging issues, asking for help and feedback, and telling employees they are valued team members. 

Review the company’s policies and practices. Long-standing processes may need to be adjusted to ensure inclusive workplaces. Inclusive work environments ask us to reevaluate what has been and reimagine what can be. 

A critical look at your organization’s culture and practices will help ensure a highly productive, fully engaged, and inclusive workforce. For more information, please see the following Employers Council resources:

For assistance, Consulting and Enterprise members can contact us to discuss strategies around inclusion.

Jen DeFranco is a human resources consultant for Employers Council.