Company Culture

7 strategies for building an inclusive culture in 2021

Creating an inclusive culture continues to be important, especially for employees who belong to the millennial and Gen Z generations. It’s becoming increasingly clear that inclusivity has a positive effect on an organization’s bottom line, but what strategies can organizations use to take diversity to the next level? Today, we are discussing the inclusive culture strategies your organization can use to improve in 2021 (and beyond.)

What Does It Mean to Build an Inclusive Culture?

Having an inclusive culture is about more than hiring diverse employees. Inclusivity goes beyond the mere presence of minority groups.

Inclusive cultures celebrate and empower minority workers with well-paying jobs, fair and equal promotion opportunities, and the feeling that they belong at the organization.

Culture matters. Company leaders can’t expect to retain underrepresented hires without deeply committing to their culture and how they treat diverse groups.

7 Inclusive Culture Strategies Your Company Can Utilize

Going beyond hiring diverse employees takes time and energy. It’s not an overnight success, especially for organizations with a small number of minority employees at the outset. Accordingly, here are seven strategies you can start with to improve the culture at your organization.

1. Go Beyond Black/White Thinking

First, we have to move past black and white thinking when it comes to diversity and inclusion at work. Many organizations depend too heavily on having one single diverse population represented. It’s important to go beyond black/white thinking or male/female thinking.

Hiring a lot of black employees or several women doesn’t necessarily make your organization diverse or inclusive.

Inclusivity is more than black/white. There are other ways to create an inclusive workplace for different groups of people. For instance, diversity exists across:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Educational Attainment

Consider these different dimensions of diversity as you are looking at candidates and interviewing. Keep all of your organization’s types of diversity in mind as you are planning holidays, creating social media content, and developing employee resource groups.

2. Celebrate Employee Differences

You might hire employees from diverse backgrounds, but are those employees able to be themselves? Do they spend more time assimilating than bringing their unique experiences to the table?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work. Speaker and writer Jodi-Ann Burey recently gave a fantastic TED Talk about the myth of bringing your full, authentic self to work that summarizes many of the issues diverse groups face around opening up at work.

Your employees might celebrate different holidays, wear different clothing to work, or choose to bring someone you wouldn’t expect to the company family day.

Are you able to accept and celebrate all the different ways your employees might choose to show up at work? Creating an inclusive culture allows you to celebrate and learn from your employees’ different cultural and personal beliefs.

3. Ensure Buy-In From All Directions

Typically, organizations consider buy-in from leaders and managers, but top-down buy-in won’t cut it when it comes to inclusivity.

Employees interact with a wide array of people every single day. For example, customers, colleagues, managers, and even investors might interact with your employees.

If managers are the only people who have expressed buy-in, you might open diverse employees up to many micro and macro-aggressions at work.

4. Define & Check-In on Goals, Not Quotas

For many organizations wanting to invest in inclusion, their first thought is to set quotas for the hiring process. For example, they may choose to set a quota for the number of minority candidates who turn in resumes or the number of interviews held.

Quotas without the work of actually hiring more diverse candidates are just a waste of the candidate’s time and your own. Candidates want to feel like they have a shot at joining your organization, not like a quota checkbox.

Get specific about what a diverse and inclusive organization would look like. Create SMART goals around diversifying your organization and creating an inclusive culture at work. Go beyond quota filling to create the best company culture.

5. Focus on Creating Training Moments Year-Round

Are you spending your time creating one diversity and inclusion training per year? While this is a great gesture and start to improving D&I at your organization, it’s easy for your initiatives to get swept under the rug if you are only addressing the situation once per year.

Instead, you can create smaller monthly or quarterly trainings for employees to keep your diversity work top of mind. Consider hosting town halls about diversity at work, sharing details about diverse holidays, and celebrating heritage/recognition months as they come up.

Connecting with employees about diversity topics throughout the year will make everyone more educated on related topics.

6. Learn From Other Organizations Who Value Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

One of the best parts about HR work is that you can learn from others. Other human resources professionals are dealing with (or have dealt with) all the issues you are currently facing at work. You can lean on other HR professionals to learn from their mistakes and successes.

By connecting with others, you can implement their strategies to create a more inclusive culture at your organization.

One way you can do this is by joining a network like the Global ERG Network. This cross-company community is a fantastic opportunity for employee ERG leaders to access best practice templates and toolkits, monthly learning events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers.

7. Think About the Outward Work

Many organizations start claiming their inclusion success too early, but never claiming it at all isn’t the answer either.

Potential candidates need to see the work that you are doing to improve diversity and inclusion at your organization.

Here are some ways to do inclusion work outwardly:

  • Plan social media campaigns about diverse holidays.
  • Spotlight diverse employees in brochures and company publications.
  • Feature diverse faces in your company’s marketing material.
  • Donate to and partner with diverse organizations.
  • Publicly support causes and political legislation that uplift diverse groups.

Creating an Inclusive Culture Takes Time

You won’t be able to transform your culture overnight. There are no quick fixes when it comes to inclusivity. By following these steps, you will slowly win over your organization and make inclusivity the standard.

If you are looking to create a more inclusive culture through employee networks, we’re the perfect partner. Email us at to see if we’re the right fit for your organization.

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