Inclusive business practices are becoming more commonplace in today's business landscape, and with good reason. These practices can certainly benefit and appeal to your diverse customer base, but they can also resonate with the entire company as well.
But diversity and inclusion aren't just buzzwords or hiring quotas. By implementing inclusive business practices today, leaders can secure their company's strength and position in the future.
Below, eight successful entrepreneurs shared how you can become more inclusive to benefit both your customers and your employees.
Cater to diverse audiences with your products and content.
While your business is never going to appeal to every single audience out there, you can start appealing to more diverse demographics by creating inclusive content and products, says Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights.
"If you know there are steps you can take to serve people from different walks of life, then do it," Christoff explains. "It's not uncommon to hear about brands that neglect certain groups of people, so make sure yours doesn't make this same mistake."
Listen to your team's opinions.
According to Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, inclusivity in the workplace starts with giving everyone a voice -- not just the managers and executives.
"Listening to the opinions of all your employees will make them feel equal and valued," says Wells. "The same goes for your customers. You can send out regular surveys to get their feedback on important issues as well."
Communicate on a personal level.
Every leader should work toward building personal relationships with their team. While you shouldn't be intrusive, you should have a basic knowledge of who they are as individuals, rather than just as employees.
"When you get to know your staff on somewhat of a personal level as far as their likes, desires and hobbies, you set the example that inclusivity is the norm," says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance. "Plus, your workers will feel more comfortable in recommending various employees to work at your business, which can further foster inclusivity."
Make diverse hiring a priority.
Carlo Cisco, founder and CEO of SELECT, believes that diversity and inclusiveness are the future, so any company that hopes to thrive should make them pillars of their business today.
"As a majority LGBT-owned and managed business, we've always made hiring people with different backgrounds and perspectives a priority," Cisco says. "This helps us stay at the forefront."
Let people know you're seeking diverse candidates.
You shouldn't simply hire diverse candidates for the sake of hitting a quota. However, setting specific, measurable goals for your hiring can hold you more accountable for reaching them. As Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc., points out, quotas can be an effective way to ensure that a more diverse population gets hired.
"Providing an incentive to hire people that come from marginalized backgrounds will allow for more applications of this nature," Munoz adds.
Change up your meeting leaders.
Hiring a diverse workforce is only one half of ensuring inclusiveness in the company, says Rahul Varshneya, co-founder of CurveBreak. Creating a culture where people feel included and respected is the real key to inclusiveness -- and it can start in your company meeting rooms.
"The best way to ensure that all employees are empowered is to give the diverse voices a chance to be heard," says Varshneya. "Rotating who runs the meetings changes the internal dynamics and gives everyone the opportunity to be heard."
Hire remote workers.
By their nature, remote companies have the ability to be more inclusive. John Turner, founder of SeedProd LLC, notes that remote organizations can hire employees from all different backgrounds, no matter their location.
"Not only does this create a more diverse team, it also gives your company the ability to interact with customers all around the world in their own language too," Turner says.
Provide truly equal opportunities.
Strong individuals make a strong team, says Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS, and a person can only work to the best of their abilities when they feel comfortable.
"Being a minority myself, I know how important it is to provide equal opportunities for everybody," Thimothy says. "We always hire the best candidates for a job regardless of their gender, identity or nationality, and whenever there is a leadership position to fill, we promote from within."