Q&A: Why is an inclusive culture even more important in 2022?

Marchelle Wright, Chief People Officer at Group Black
Jan 11, 2022

When it comes to your business strategy, building an inclusive culture is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Research by McKinsey revealed companies that adopt a systematic approach to inclusion are more successful than those that don’t. Yet, McKinsey also found just 29% of organizations had a positive […]

When it comes to your business strategy, building an inclusive culture is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Research by McKinsey revealed companies that adopt a systematic approach to inclusion are more successful than those that don’t. Yet, McKinsey also found just 29% of organizations had a positive response to the topic of inclusion.

Marchelle Wright, Chief People Officer at Group Black, joins host Didi D’Errico to explain why building an inclusive culture is critical to success and shares simple steps you can take as a small business to prioritize inclusion.

After you listen:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

On this episode, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:45 – 02:00] What it means to create an inclusive culture
  • [02:00 – 04:00] Insights from recent McKinsey research
  • [04:00 – 07:00] Opportunities for small companies to weave D&I into their DNA
  • [07:00 – 08:30] Why you need to gather pulse feedback


Why does an inclusive culture matter more in 2022?

Didi: Welcome to POPS,  the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time,

Today to help answer your question. Here’s Marchelle Wright, Chief People officer at Group Black. 

Marchelle: Representation of all backgrounds and cultures should be a foundation of how we think about our teams. But inclusion is really about how you maintain that workforce. How do you motivate them and recognize that diverse workforce?

We know that employees that feel like they work in an inclusive company may not seek employment elsewhere. They feel valued. They feel as if the organization appreciates them and really helps with the retention for that employee. And when I think about this for even smaller companies, making sure our employees understand their ideas and their viewpoints and their opinions are part of the conversation is extremely important.

That’s also in how you define inclusion. We want to create something that has this inclusive and belonging as part of our culture. Having employees understand that they’re valued creates that inclusive. It’s less about the words we use to find inclusion. It’s more about the sentiment, how it’s applied in your culture and in your business.

And it matters in 2022, but it’s going to matter in the foreseeable future for us. Also, we want to make sure that we are obviously committing to and maintaining the actions. We all said we were going to support in 2021 and 2022, but I think it’s our collective responsibility to keep the momentum going.

Beyond that, and not only momentum, but think of ways to innovate and build on our ideas for the, and I, there’s a great survey out by. And their research talk about diversity winners and how companies and adopt the systematic approach. A business led approach to inclusion and diversity are more successful.

The article referenced the fact that when you talk and poll employees at most organizations, 52% had a positive response when it came to diversity. But then that number went to 29% when it talked about inclusion. And so that means there’s still a challenge. Hiring diverse talent is not going to be the only thing we have to do once we hire diverse talent.

How do you create a workplace where you shape, how people feel about the organization? Once they’re there, they can remain there. They can thrive in that company. I love that. McKinsey also talked about that gender diversity and ethnic diversity are important for profitability. Along with inclusion. So it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do when it comes to thinking about your business strategies beyond 2020.

So many organizations put a lot of focus on the hiring component, which is very important. It’s very important to think about the talent you’re bringing into the company, but then once the employees are in the organization, what’s the environment that they’re working within. What are the promotional opportunities?

What’s the visibility, what are the assignments they’re working on? That’s why. Then we talk about it in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, because I think it encompasses all three of those components to create a healthy business culture for your employees and teams. And it’s okay to make a mistake in how you’ve approached it or pivot how you want to approach those things.

I think you learn every time. The feedback from employees and you, and we learn more data and more surveys like the McKinsey survey comes out, which is really good, helpful information. As we think about what we’re building from our diversity equity inclusion practices and. I love thinking about this in terms of smaller businesses and startups.

Okay. And I’m a part of a startup right now. And having a chief diversity officer is sometimes just not in the hiring plan for the first roles you’re bringing into the organization, especially when you’re a smaller business. And the chief diversity officer is an important role. I want to make sure that I know different teams are on different journeys when it comes to diversity and some organizations have a strategic need for that position.

But I think smaller organizations and teams actually have a unique opportunity to create their DNI mission as part of what I call the DNA for the company. It’s a part of the fabric of how the business and the culture is built from the start and there’s ways to do that. And there are very productive ways to think about this.

If you’re a smaller business, as you’re trying to scale your diversity efforts, first, the mission of the. Is the first thing to think about, but then when you start to think about the people organization and the HR people teams, there are definitely practices and tools that you can incorporate. I love tools like Textio, it’s a recruiting tool.

It helps us a language insights platform, a great tool to help you look at your job descriptions and postings and your promotion postings to just make sure your elute using. Language, that’s a not biased in the way you’re going to market to recruit for the jobs. It’s a little thing, but a huge thing, culturally, that represents yourself out in the market.

I love using the concept of interview debrief. So often we ha we conduct a really good. Right. We do unconscious bias training or diversity training, and then we send those leaders off to do their jobs, but then we don’t put it into practice. And one great thing to incorporate, especially in the hiring process is just debrief after the interviews, right?

So a candidate comes in for a position. You have them interview and with a smaller organization, maybe they meet with three or four people. And they’ll three or four people are, have a facilitated conversation around the candidate and the pros and cons of bringing that person in the organization and their skillset and their background.

You’d be surprised how those conversations help eliminate bias in hiring and what you’re doing. But then the last thing I think I love to talk about with the candidate experience, at least in onboarding before I think about other. You can do is how do you create an environment where that person feels a part of the team for the beginning?

Remember we talked about inclusion is about making that environment welcoming for that person and giving them an opportunity and visibility. Once they’re in a group, Blackwood is something pretty cool. We’ve incorporated the two week schedule for new hires to meet with. So quite often you do an orientation where you’re sitting in a room and you’re hearing about the leadership in the company, and those were all great and fun to do.

But how about creating this kind of one-on-one interaction? But we have a benefit of being a smaller organization where my people ops coordinator can meet with my COO during her first, right. And their first two weeks, they can meet with our finance head during their first two weeks. Just getting that visibility.

That’s all a part of creating the inclusive culture you want to have having that. Pre-boarding kind of an onboarding experience helps. And then once the employees are on your team, just real-time pulse surveys feedback, especially if you’re half, if you’re a smaller team, there are great tools out there.

And when it comes to getting pulse feedback, I think as your business scales and grows, these are great tools to put out there too. Not every large business can do huge global engagement surveys, but these feedback tools are. Ways to collect information. If you have a smaller budget, you can even do it through a Google survey and just getting the feedback and hearing the feedback and making action on it and the candidate and the employee experience travels.

And what I mean by that is. How people feel about your company. It gets put in a suitcase, niggles everywhere, and people talk about whether they’re posting something on Glassdoor or they’re talking to a peer or a neighbor. They talk about what it’s like to work at that organization or to interview at that company.

And so we know it’s hard to land, good talent, and you want to avoid having. That brand in the marketplace that doesn’t present a culture of inclusion out there. And so having those actions in ways in place are helpful and making sure your leadership understands the clear vision that you’re creating with the practices, making sure every employee that joints understands the impact they have on their culture.

And it’s not one size fits all. It’s going to be okay. And to learn from those outcomes, because I think that’s what really drives progress is learning from everything that you’ve done really well. And where you have opportunities. Do you have a question for our experts? You can always email me [email protected] or head on over to zenefits.com/pops-podcast or more insights on content for this show and our others. Thanks for listening.


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