Inclusion strategies consist of those strategies used to encourage the inclusion and acceptance of workers of varying backgrounds in the workplace. The purpose of these strategies is to improve worker relations and reduce attitude and behavior problems in the workplace. Inclusion strategies are similar to diversity initiatives. However, organizations tend to favor the term "inclusion" to avoid the negative connotations associated with the controversial practices associated with diversity and affirmative action. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of inclusion strategies in the workplace.
Inclusion strategies, much like diversity initiatives, have proven effective in increasing employee engagement, motivation and productivity. Organizations often implement inclusion strategies to overcome the threat of more innovative competitors. Organizations may also choose to implement inclusion strategies upon identifying diversity issues as the source of high turnover. The implementation of inclusion strategies is essential to the organization in which workers often decamp due to a perception of bias. Inclusion strategies may also improve the perception that the organization recognizes the unique contributions of its employees. All of these factors affect the bottom line of the organization.
Inclusion strategies encourage employees to work together in a productive manner despite individual differences. Effective inclusion strategies also encourage creativity and innovation, which are essential to the creation and maintenance of a sustainable competitive advantage. Organizations often compete for high quality workers. A company’s culture, whether inclusive or non-inclusive, may influence a job candidate’s decision to choose one employer over another.
One of the disadvantages of inclusion strategies is that workers may perceive them to be just another forced diversity initiative. Diversity has developed a bad reputation over the years due to its close association with affirmative action, and the perception of workers that diversity initiatives tend to favor the hiring of minorities regardless of their qualifications. Workers may also become disillusioned with such strategies if they perceive that managers regularly initiate such initiatives without proper follow-through. Improperly implemented inclusion strategies may potential inflict more harm on the organization than good.
Organizations should know and understand the various factors associated with successful inclusion strategies to combat the disadvantages. For example, executive sponsorship is essential to the success of inclusion strategies. Workers must perceive that organizational leaders are dedicated to the success of these strategies. Additionally, inclusion strategies should focus on overcoming individual differences rather than dividing workers according to sex, race, age, socioeconomic background and other groups commonly associated with diversity initiatives. Finally, organizations must measure current inclusion attitudes in the workplace before attempting to change. It is important to understand the underlying cause of diversity and inclusion problems before attempting to overcome them.