Anyone working in change management needs to focus significant attention on diversity and inclusion. This is all about building a diverse workplace and providing everyone with equal opportunities and an equal voice, irrespective of their gender, sex, sexual orientation, background, race, religion, or anything else.
By putting together an effective diversity and inclusion policy, you can drive your engineering business forward, benefiting from a diverse set of opinions and ideas, as well as making positive steps to support those who have been historically suppressed. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best diversity and inclusion practices for change management professionals working in the engineering industry today.
Understanding the Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion strategies cannot be established if you do not understand the difference between them. Let’s begin by explaining diversity. This includes any dimension that is utilized to differentiate people and groups from one another. When we’re talking about diversity from a business point of view, we concentrate mainly on appreciating and respecting what makes workers different in terms of natural origin, education, sexual orientation, disability, religion, ethnicity, gender, and age. Every employee within a team brings a different set of ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and perspectives, which helps engineers have diverse views on different company opportunities and challenges. Therefore, it is critical for change managers to value and respect every individual if they are to build an improved employee experience and business culture.
So, what about inclusion? What’s the difference? Unlike diversity, inclusion is focused on making organizational efforts so that all employees feel welcomed and treated equally. You cannot simply have diversity strategies without having inclusion. You not only need to hire people from different backgrounds, but you also need to ensure they all feel welcome and part of the team. After all, we work our very best when we have a sense of belonging, as we do not feel like we are being starved of our thoughts and creativity. It is all about making sure you respect everyone and who they are as a person or group. When this happens, you will notice your employee engagement levels increase considerably too.
Why Should You Care About Diversity and Inclusion?
Well, the obvious starting point is that you will be doing what is ethically and morally correct. After all, there are groups of people who have not given equal opportunities for years, and it is time to rewrite this history. You can be a part of that, and you should be a part of that!
However, the business benefits are extensive too, including enhanced reputation, better financial performance, improved decision-making, and the innovation and creativity necessary in the engineering industry. We are all different, after all, and so bringing a diverse set of thoughts and opinions to the workplace can only be a good thing.
Other benefits you can expect include improved employee loyalty, empowerment, and retention, as well as knowledge sharing, talent attraction, and employee engagement. These are changes that all engineering businesses would certainly benefit from.
What Are the Best Diversity and Inclusion Practices That Your Business Can Implement?
Now that you understand why you need to consider practices that address both inclusion and diversity, let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can go about implementing these practices:
- Support creativity and innovation within your change management efforts. In order to create a diverse team, you need to ensure that creativity and innovation are supported. If they do not make up one of your primary business objectives, you will struggle to build diversity in the workplace and to maintain it effectively. After all, when genuine creativity and innovation is not supported, businesses remain stagnant and a fresh perspective is rarely sought, which, in turn, starves your business of new ways to tackle engineering challenges. This is why it is critical to support innovation and creativity.
- Provide equal opportunities to grow and develop. Whether this is training opportunities or the chance to get promoted, it is imperative that everyone has the same opportunities to grow and develop within your team. If you look at statistics regarding employee retention, you will see that one of the main reasons people move on is because they do not feel they have the opportunity to grow and develop. They feel stuck in dead-end roles and they won’t have the chance to flourish and achieve more. Eradicating this can make a massive difference to the success of your business.
- Make sure all of your team members receive fair treatment. Favoring one person over another is never advised in the workplace. It simply cannot produce good results. Fairness is one of the vital prerequisites for employees to feel accepted and valued. We’re not just talking about giving preferential treatment on particular engineering projects, but also unfair benefits packages and unfair salaries. Unfortunately, many businesses are still operating unfairly from a financial point of view. You need to change this and ensure that everyone is on a level pegging so that there is clear respect within your work environment.
- Create a feeling of belonging. As mentioned earlier, we always work our best when we feel like we belong. When there is a sense of belonging, we feel like we can be ourselves. We are not afraid to speak up or to put new ideas forward. This is why it is imperative to create a full sense of belonging for everyone in your team.
Now that we’ve given you some insight into some of the best practices you can put in place when it comes to diversity and inclusion within an engineering workplace today, we hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding of the issue. However, if you are struggling to put together an effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy, the best thing to do is hire a change management consultant who will be able to assist you with the process. They will be able to help you refine your approach to diversity and inclusion, which, in turn, will drive your business forward.
About the Author:
Michelle Gillam has written extensively, over many years, about a wide range of topics related to project management and change management. She is a PRINCE2 qualified project manager with a special interest in improving facilitation skills and communication skills.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post by guest author Michelle Gillam. If you’re interested in your firm possibly joining the Civil Engineering Collective, please contact us here or call us at 800-920-4007.
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Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success