CHICAGO–Credit unions have increasingly recognized the value in become more diverse and inclusive, but they often fail when it comes to their management teams. How can they improve?
According to Refresh Leadership, in recent years there has been a shift in perspective among HR practitioners that has moved the focus from diversity to inclusion, as diversity alone has presented some pitfalls.
“As businesses focused solely on diversity, at times, the very people intended to benefit, were made to feel isolated and unwelcome,” stated Refresh Leadership. “All too often, people were made to feel they were hired solely because of their association with a certain demographic group, not for the unique contributions they brought to the table as individuals. As it turns out, diversity is only half the equation. The full picture requires the concept of inclusion.”
What is inclusion? According to Diverse Leadership, it’s the understanding, accepting, valuing, and welcoming people’s differences and utilizing them to benefit the group.
What do credit union leaders need to recognize? Diverse Leadership recommends these three steps:
Creating a Culture of Inclusion Starts at the Top
Employees look to their leaders to set both the tone and the expectations in the workplace, observed Diverse Leadership.
“There are many ways leaders can champion inclusion. Starting with hiring practices and employer branding, organizations can spotlight inclusion as a priority to attract candidates of varying backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. Utilizing inclusion training, companies can set the expectation for respect, kindness, and compassion amongst current employees.”
Fostering an Inclusive Environment
Diverse Leadership said an organization can also create an inclusion committee to leverage team members’ differing perspectives and backgrounds to create an environment where all feel heard and new ideas are generated. “One idea that has proven very popular is to hold a potluck to celebrate the flavors of the different nationalities represented in the workplace. This will create an especially welcoming environment for workers who are new to the country or region. Another great way to raise awareness and stir curiosity about different cultures is to display a world map and invite people to put a pin on the place where they’re from. The pin might also include a name, small photo, and even a little note. This is a nice way to open the door to conversations that lead to greater understanding of others. It’s important to point out that in all of these suggested activities, people are merely being invited to participate. No one should ever feel pressured to take part in activities or share information if they don’t feel comfortable doing so.”
Benefits of an Inclusive Culture
A culture of inclusion can increase employee engagement and morale and lower turnover rates, Diverse Leadership stated.
“Teams that celebrate diversity and embrace inclusion are more likely to collaborate and be open to new ideas and innovation,” according to Diverse Leadership. “They also have an increased ability to withstand change and ambiguity since they are accustomed to varying ideas and insights rather than being bogged down by groupthink. It also gives organizations a competitive edge.”