Excerpted from a JAMS Blog by Joanna Saint Louis

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a clear business differentiator. It has never been more critical, particularly in light of the pandemic which has brought about a mass exodus of professionals leaving their jobs. In the face of this challenge, companies that have built inclusive cultures have an advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining top talent.

Creating a more diverse and inclusive business culture also fosters greater innovation. According to an Accenture report, “The more empowering the workplace, the higher the innovation mindset score. For instance, U.S. employees in robust cultures of equality are seven times more likely to say nothing holds them back from innovating (44 percent in most equal cultures vs. 6 percent in least equal cultures).”

The following are five ways organizations can build a diverse and inclusive company culture:

1. Establish policies that codify DE&I into the organization. In order to ensure that DE&I is not simply lip service, it is essential to make an inclusive culture part of the fabric of the organization. Supplier diversity and inclusive team policies are great examples of ways to codify DEI within your company culture. Within the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) industry, adding an inclusion clause to a company’s contracts is a great way to ensure DE&I is considered within the dispute resolution process. Policies are great guiding principles to cultivate an inclusive company culture.

2. Create safe spaces. One of the most important things organizations can do is create safe spaces for employees, such as employee resource groups, allowing them to engage and learn about different cultures. Encouraging employees to bring their authentic self to work fosters an inclusive environment. Once you create an inclusive culture, you will increase employee engagement and innovation, which will lead to higher employee retention.

3. Lead by example. Ensure your organization’s leadership team is diverse, setting the tone for the entire business. Leaders should lead by example, acting as bias interrupters, immediately interceding whenever inappropriate behavior is displayed. Having strong and active leaders who place a high value on diversity and inclusion is vital to the creation of a culture that embraces DE&I.

4. Maintain a pipeline of opportunities. Make sure the organization creates a pipeline of DE&I opportunities that emphasize growth and retention. Mentorships and sponsorships are a great way to further support employees. By investing in talent, businesses can strengthen themselves, while creating an inclusive culture. The JAMS Diversity Fellowship Program is a great example of a program committed to this mission. Here at JAMS, we are steadfast in pursuing increased diversity among ADR practitioners.

5. Set goals and track them. It is important to set diversity and inclusion goals for the business and then track the metrics to see how the organization performs against the stated objectives. Holding the company to set standards is the best way to ensure everyone is held accountable and progress is made in a measurable way.

DE&I Takes on Greater Urgency During the Great Resignation
In the face of the “Great Resignation,” employees are increasingly interested in working for companies whose DE&I goals and initiatives are aligned with their values. Company culture and work-life balance are also top priorities for recruits. That said, organizations need to focus on DE&I within the workplace and ensure their efforts are authentic and not performative. Once again, metrics are vital to measure success and determine if fundamental change is occurring and the company is moving the needle.

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