Creating A Culture Of Inclusivity

From below, a group of multiracial people join hands to illustrate Creating A Culture Of Inclusivity

Company culture is often the No. 1 factor determining the success or failure of an organization. But creating a culture of inclusivity begins not with the organization but with the individual. If we want to grow our businesses, we have to nurture and contribute to the growth of the individuals within them.

It’s difficult if not impossible to create an inclusive workplace culture without understanding an individual’s psychology and how they process information. Similarly, you can’t really understand organizational psychology and inclusivity at an organizational level until you understand individual psychology and how individuals process information. Understanding these things is fundamental to creating an inclusive culture.

In other words, we must start with the micro (the individual) and build our culture of inclusivity outward toward the macro (the organization or business).

To achieve this, we need to better understand individual psychologies in order to provide building blocks for creating more inclusive systems and processes.

Creating an Inclusive Business Culture

What does inclusive mean? What does inclusivity feel like?

For me, it means that a person feels included and heard. They feel like they belong. Like they are cared for and valued for who they are as a person.

From an agency standpoint, this is of critical importance since it contributes directly to the health and well-being of one’s internal customers. This, in turn, contributes to the health and well-being of the business itself.

How? At Webfor, we believe that our inclusive culture contributes to employee retention. This impacts our ability to retain clients. There is, after all, a sense of familiarity, certainty, and trust that builds up for clients when they interact with the same members of our team year in and year out.

How does one build this culture? I think it begins with thoughtful attention to individual psychology and its relationship to organizational psychology (culture).

Individual Psychology

Individual psychology and team/organizational psychology flow together. Each informs the other. If you want your external customers to feel like your No. 1 customer, then you should treat your internal customers that way, too.

As is the case with one’s external customers, a business must know the psychological needs of its internal customers. Think about your own team members. What are their top three or top five needs when it comes to their jobs? If you know the answer, have you prioritized the list for each team member? Knowing what these are is going to help you not only create an effective culture but ensure you’re meeting the needs of your internal customers, too.

Young Business Team At A Meeting at modern office building

An important part of this process includes knowing and understanding when a team member may be motivated less by the neocortex (rational) part of the brain and more by the limbic (emotional) part of the brain.

The limbic responds more readily to what it perceives as threats. For example, if an employee feels — rightly or wrongly — that a management decision threatens their job security or career prospects, it may trigger an inappropriate survival response rather than a more rational assessment of the decision and its relationship to the overall goals of the business. How do these biological realities fit within our overall framework for creating an inclusive culture? Simply put, they require us as leaders to recognize if and when a person is responding to job-related stressors through rationality or emotion.

Studies often reveal that, in the vast majority of our day-to-day existence, most people are on autopilot, responding to stimuli with their subconscious rather than with logic. It’s important to know and understand any underlying motivations.

This is just one part of individual psychology, but it’s a major motivating factor. Acknowledging it and utilizing empathy to drill down to the core of the problem is just one way to begin the process of building a culture of inclusivity.

Culture (Organizational Psychology)

Next comes culture. As we’ve mentioned, culture is built outward — from the micro (individual) to the macro (organization).

As we are learning, taking an empathetic approach toward an individual ultimately informs every interaction — not just internally (throughout the organization) but externally (to your customers), as well.

In short, if you want your external customers to experience the culture and service level that’s important to your organization, it all starts with taking care of those on the inside.webfor sign

Creating a positive, nurturing, empathetic environment for internal employees will have an impact beyond just their day-to-day work; they will become part of how people perceive your brand itself. And this process begins at the outset — from the moment you interview someone for a position — and then builds from there.

One of the ways we engage employees is through regular surveys that provide them with a chance to share their feelings (anonymously, if they prefer). This creates a real-time feedback loop that has proven invaluable for our company.

Those are the broad outlines of ways in which we at Webfor go about creating a culture of inclusivity.

For a more in-depth discussion of our surveys, watch my presentation here of via the embedded video above. I discuss a number of additional topics in the video, including:

  • the riverbed concept
  • neuroplasticity
  • mental states
  • the STEAR approach
  • understanding external customers on a deep psychological level