Earlier this year, I read a Fast Company article about how different generations view and define diversity and inclusion. Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) commissioned the study of 3,726 individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. I found this article of particular interest because not only do we at Saxum strive for a culture of diversity and inclusion, but we also counsel our clients on best practices for such programs.
Like many organizations, Saxum is made up of baby boomers, gen-Xers and quite a few millennials. As a millennial, I know the value I place on the traits that make us unique and according to the article, most millennials feel the same. We believe our attributes of diversity should be celebrated and made known, not checked at the door.
When an organization fosters an inclusive culture, 83 percent of millennials are actively engaged compared to only 60 percent in an organization that does not. We all want employees who are engaged and passionate about their work.
In just 10 short years, millennials will make up almost 75 percent of the workforce. As leaders of organizations, it is important to know how to attract and retain this important generation.
“Millennials yearn for acceptance of their thoughts and opinions, but compared to older generations, they feel it’s unnecessary to downplay their differences in order to get ahead,” according to the study authors.
So what can you do to create an organization that promotes diversity and inclusion? Here are a few points to consider:
- Be authentic. If you’re creating a diversity and inclusion program because someone says you should, you’re most likely not doing it for the right reasons, and someone will call you out on it.
- Include others. Bring together a group of individuals from different backgrounds, ages and experience levels to brainstorm ways to foster diversity and inclusion in your organization.
- Think broadly. Although this study focused on age diversity, there are many other traits to consider such as gender, race and ethnicity, education and physical appearance.
- Live it. The best diversity and inclusion programs are not framed on a wall. They are an essential part of your organizational makeup, and it starts at the top. You could not exist without it.
- Track it. Evaluate your progress at least once a year. You may want to conduct focus groups or surveys to gauge how your employees feel about recent efforts. Don’t forget to ask for ideas, and implement the good ones. Your employees want to feel heard and see action being taken.