All sales organizations look for an edge. It’s a constant battle.
More refined sales strategies and tactics. Improved incentives. Better training. Team building retreats.
That’s all good. And it produces results. Otherwise, companies wouldn’t continue to invest in those approaches.
But sometimes you just have to take a step back. Or maybe two. To see the big picture.
At Salesforce, we have a saying: “The business of business is to build a better world.” That means building a world where everyone has equal rights, equal access to education, equal pay for equal work, and an equal opportunity to succeed.
So, Just What is Equality in the Workplace?
We’re glad you asked. Equality requires diversity and inclusion.
Diversity isn’t just about race or gender. Under the umbrella of diversity resides the full range of ways people can identify themselves.
Inclusion means that people feel valued, heard, respected, and empowered. A company can be very diverse, but if those diverse perspectives aren’t heard and valued, there’s no equality.
Everybody wants to feel like they belong, especially in the workplace. When we feel we have a family in our co-workers, it can transform the way we work.
A Salesforce research study, The Impact of Equality and Values-Driven Business, found that employees who feel a sense of belonging are 5.3x more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Unfortunately, underrepresented groups often voice feelings of being “the only” in their companies, which leads to feeling isolated and marginalized. It’s vital that we explore ways to improve equality in the workplace.
The Business Value of Inclusion
The Salesforce research revealed that companies that actively work to make their cultures more inclusive are better positioned to:
- Achieve strong customer loyalty
- Boost employee engagement
- Increase productivity
Every sales organization would welcome an increase in all three of those metrics. Doing the right thing is good for everyone.
Diverse Organizations Gain a Competitive Edge
Increasing diversity in the workplace is better for employees and for the business. Here are five ways diversity matters.
- A diverse workforce can capture a greater share of the consumer market.
- Recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates means a more qualified workforce.
- Diversity in business ownership, particularly among women of color, is key to moving our economy forward.
- Diversity in the workplace is necessary to create a competitive economy in a globalized world.
- Diversity in the boardroom is needed to develop a company’s full potential.
Beginning the Journey to Equality in the Workplace
There is no quick fix to building an organizational culture of equality. There are many barriers and challenges. Nevertheless, it’s a journey well worth taking.
Here are some tangible steps you can take to build an equality culture.
1. Encourage employee resource groups and make resources available to support them.
Create an employee group that brings together employees who are allies of equality in sexual orientation and gender identity.
This promotes an open and inclusive culture that empowers employees to bring their whole, authentic selves to work every day.
2. Foster a network of “equality allies.”
Equality allies are individuals who stand up and support a group or individual with whom they don’t personally identify.
When you build a community of allies, you empower your employees to cultivate a workplace where every single person feels they belong.
3. Remember, not all bias is conscious.
All of us have biases. Some we recognize; many — maybe most — we don’t. Numerous studies have shown the prevalence of unconscious or implicit bias.
Unconscious biases are attitudes or stereotypes that, without our awareness, affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. You can even take a test to discover some of your unconscious biases.
Unconscious bias is a powerful barrier to improving equality in the workplace. Key to an inclusive workforce is identifying and tearing down unconscious biases.
4. Make sure team bonding is inclusive bonding.
Team bonding activities are important parts of life at work. They bring us closer to our colleagues in a relaxed and fun setting.
Make sure when planning an event that you consider the time, location and nature of the activity and whether everybody can participate and enjoy the experience.
The Role of Leadership
It falls to an organization’s leaders to create an environment where everyone can do the best work of their careers — regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, religion, ability, or sexual orientation.
Successful, inclusive leaders understand and elevate a team’s unique strengths, use their platform to advocate for their employees, and foster an environment where everyone feels valued.
They typically portray these five inclusive leadership principles:
- Lead with equality
- Have brave, authentic conversations
- Practice inclusive meetings
- Be fair in assignments and promotions
- Celebrate and bond with everyone in mind
The journey to equality in the workplace crosses all boundaries, from the boardroom to the front lines. Inclusive leaders support and demonstrate behavior that builds a culture of equality.
This can mean speaking up for someone who was interrupted in a meeting, creating space for difficult conversations, sharing your own equality journey, or changing the time of team events so they’re easier for caretakers to join.
Every act — no matter how seemingly small — creates a ripple effect that can gradually transform the culture of your team and company.
Equality in the workplace. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.