We hear the term inclusivity quite a bit these days, particularly in the context of office culture. Businesses large and small are actively evaluating their policies and practices to make their companies more inclusive, both to employees and to customers. But what does it mean to be inclusive, and why is it important?
As it turns out, inclusivity is not merely a term of political correctness or a standard for workplace compliance. More than that, inclusivity is your friend. By making your law firm’s work culture more inclusive, you can galvanize your team around your firm’s mission and generate more productivity than you ever thought possible. Before going into details about how to make your firm more inclusive, let’s talk about some basic principles regarding inclusivity and why it matters.
What Does It Mean to Be Inclusive?
The Cambridge Dictionary offers an excellent general definition for inclusivity:
“The quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally.”
Let’s unpack this idea and try to make it more actionable.
Humans have a tendency, no matter how intentional, of identifying people by their differences—e.g., race, sex, cultural background, economic class, religion, etc. Nothing inherently wrong with that—we are all different in some way. The problem is that humans are also naturally biased, so we tend to treat people differently or set different standards for them based on their differentiators. Sometimes the bias is so subtle that we cannot see it in ourselves.
Inclusivity seeks to identify and reduce or eliminate these biases so that everyone is on an equal playing field, so to speak. In practical terms, building an inclusive work culture is about making everyone on your team feel equally valued, respected, and included, regardless of the differentiators.
Inclusivity and Diversity Are Not the Same
We should make the point now that the terms inclusivity and diversity are not interchangeable. You can have a very diverse office staff and still maintain bias in how you treat them and make decisions concerning them—and in fact, that’s part of the problem. That said, diversity and inclusivity go hand in hand. By developing a more inclusive culture, your staff will be more fulfilled at work. Your team will also likely become more diverse in the process because you’ll look at a broader talent pool when hiring than you would when your natural biases were in play.
Why You Should Build an Inclusive Law Firm
- You’ll have a more productive workforce. When people feel their contributions are valued and they are given equal opportunities, they tend to give their best work.
- You’ll become more creative and innovative as a firm. Your people have some great ideas, and they’ll share them with you when you create a welcoming environment for them.
- You’ll serve an increasingly diverse clientele. The world around us is becoming more multicultural. As we said, inclusivity breeds diversity, so your team will have the ability to serve the needs of an increasingly diverse community—generating more revenue in the process.