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Apprenticeship and an Inclusive Workplace
We often hear the words diversity and inclusion used interchangeably, but they are really two separate things. Historically, employers have used diversity as a measure of the demographic makeup of their workforce. Over time (and especially with younger generations), diversity has expanded to reference differences in thought and approach. A diverse workforce can bring benefits to employers, with those of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences contributing to grow the business.
Inclusivity is a different animal. Companies with truly inclusive workplaces want input from all employees and use that input to improve the organization. Employees feel “heard” and valued. One can have a diverse workforce that is not inclusive. When this happens, employees are more likely to leave the company for other opportunities, resulting in increased hiring costs. In fact, a study by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative showed 80% of respondents say inclusion is important when choosing an employer.
Developing an inclusive workplace is a long-term process and requires leadership to be committed to the vision. Once you have made the commitment, here are some ways apprentices can be engaged help make a workplace more inclusive:
- Share your commitment to inclusion with potential hires. Let them know they will be an integral part of the company’s success.
- Include information about the company’s vision, roadmap, and success measures in the onboarding kit. Do you have a formal program to award cash bonuses for new ideas that are implemented? Make sure to let them know!
- Listen and consider the apprentices’ suggestions. Doing things a certain way may be necessary for safety or other reasons, but a new perspective could lead to procedural improvements.
- If it makes sense, include your current employees in the apprenticeship program. It will expand their skill sets and build a stronger team.
- Encourage your apprentices to join professional groups that extend their learning experience and bring in new ideas. Groups that help support diversity in traditional roles (i.e., the National Association of Women in Construction) can make the apprentice feel more engaged.
These are just a few ideas to help you work toward a more inclusive work environment. If you have successfully implemented other ideas that you would like to share, please let us know. Contact a consultant today.