A recent research study from Bain & Company revealed that 25% to 30% of people report feeling “fully included” at work, which was found across “all geographies, industries, and demographic groups.” Asian employees, however, reported feeling the least included, with just 20% of Asian women and 16% of Asian men saying they feel fully included.

The study noted the common viewpoint that Asian Americans are “well educated and do well economically relative to the US population as a whole,” but these “road measures of success obfuscate the complexity of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) experience.” Bain & Company Partner Pam Yee stated, “One thing is consistent across the board [of all Asian American communities]: a struggle with the challenges of stereotypes, acceptance, and assimilation.”

Other groups who reported they feel fully included at work include LGBTQ+ women (29%), Latinx women (26%), straight white women (25%), black men (25%), straight white men (24%), Latinx men (24%), LGBTQ+ men (23%), and black women (22%).

There is no question that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is important to employees. The majority of respondents in many studies have reported they place some importance on it. Some people leave their jobs because of a lack of inclusivity, and others remain unhappy in their positions for financial reasons, which can lead to an overall sense of dissatisfaction. So, what can be done to foster a sense of inclusion for all populations in the workplace?

First of all, it is critical for human resources and management teams to understand what “feeling included” means to their employees, as it will vary across different companies. For example, some employees feel included when they are actively listened to by everyone during big company meetings, and others feel like having a manager check in with them one-on-one for their input is how they feel included.

Many leaders want their employees to feel included but do not know how they want this to look. Therefore, they need to ask. 

Bain & Company’s recent report also found that only two percent of chief executive officer positions are held by individuals who identify as Asian. Giving employees of all demographic groups equal opportunities for promotions and special leadership projects is critical all across the board, and all team members should know that they have an equal chance at these things. 

Gathering input from all employees and involving everyone when creating goals for the company is another step towards increasing DEI. Making decisions together instead of simply sending out a memo to certain people can increase employees’ sense that they are valued in their position. 

Even the humblest of employees across all populations want recognition for a job well done. The ways companies give praise to their employees can vary greatly, but there should always be recognition processes put in place. Some teams prefer to provide public “shout-outs,” whether that is in the office or via electronic means, whereas others would prefer one-on-one conversations. Recognition should be given to all employees when it is deserved, regardless of what the employee’s level is.

Everyone appreciates bonuses and perks, so these must also be provided equally to all employees to foster improved DEI in the workplace. Setting up occasional group outings and facilitating other fun events for all employees, such as escape rooms and dinners, may also be suitable depending on the company. While many people say they would rather not be close friends with their coworkers, it always helps to like one another. 

Ultimately, DEI in a workplace can be improved in many ways, and leaders must find what will work for their companies. Making all employees feel included – regardless of “geographies, industries, and demographic groups,” as Bain & Company described it – can lead to a happier and more successful work environment. 

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