Diversity is nothing without an inclusive workplace culture

There is no doubt that in this multidimensional and complex society, focusing on maximizing the value of a diverse workforce has almost become a business imperative. While we are extensively focused on hiring for diversity, there’s one part of the equation that we do not often talk about; namely - fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

There cannot be any doubt about the enormous benefits diversity can bring to organisations. Our own research has pointed out that companies with a diverse leadership perform better financially, are more creative and are better at fostering strong business relationships.

But, does this mean that all organizations hiring for a diverse workforce can harvest these benefits?

The short answer is no. A diverse workplace is not necessarily an inclusive one. Likewise, an inclusive workplace is not necessarily diverse.

An inclusive workplace culture makes diversity work

In this sense, inclusion is the pre-requisite for the functioning of a diverse workforce and involves the full and successful integration of diverse people into a workplace.

An inclusive culture indicates a climate in which respect, equity, and positive recognition of differences are all cultivated, and the social and institutional response to disability poses no barrier to a positive employment experience.

Nevertheless, truly inclusive cultures extend beyond basic or token presence of workers who have disabilities. They are instead built on formal, informal policies and practices that involve the following three values:

The beauty lies in valuing people’s abilities instead of limitations

Fostering an inclusive workplace culture – the real emphasis should be placed on valuing people’s abilities instead of limitations.

Accenture is a great example of a company doing just that. Boudewijn Hamersma, the Workplace Innovator at Accenture says:

Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to our culture and core values, fostering an innovative, collaborative and high-energy work environment. We recognize that each person has unique strengths. And by embracing those strengths, we all deliver high performance—together.

For Accenture, the dedication to inclusion and diversity goes far beyond a fancy statement. Diversity and inclusion is something that pervades the whole organization and partnerships.

That is also why you can look to the ISS facilitated and led Catering Service at Accenture to find the first example.

Inclusion helps us see things from a different perspective

In the kitchen of the Accenture office in Amsterdam, Dogukan works as an intern two days a week.

He helps the chef cooking and learns new cooking techniques. Dogukan has a light form of autism, which means that he needs some extra support and attention. While the chef patiently goes through the tasks step by step, other colleagues support him with the psychosocial issues at work, school or at home.

Yet this extra attention is nothing compared to the enormous value colleagues like Dogukan add to the ISS catering team.  The ISS Catering Manager at Accenture, Edwin Klinkert explains;

People like Dogukan add real value to the team and help us to see things from a different perspective.

A kitchen is a truly dynamic environment where many things are done last-minute. Working with Catering Services is naturally not for everyone and sometimes there can be a mismatch. Yet as Edwin Klinkert adds;

It is essential that the employee with a disability matches with the catering team and the company culture. But in its nature, this is not different from other new employees. This applies for anyone who wants to work here.

Does your organization have an inclusive workplace culture? And what is your experience? Share your comments right below.

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