Creating a diverse workplace has been at the forefront for many companies but very few take the steps needed to make those employees feel accepted. But, considering that 80% of job seekers want their future employer to have measurable inclusive efforts [Deloitte], it’s becoming more important for companies to make it a priority.
Why Is It Important to Have an Inclusive Workplace?
An inclusive workplace is a foundation for a successful business. Not only are inclusive teams 80% more productive, but they are also more profitable, bringing in 2.3x the amount of cash flow per employee [Deloitte].
Creating a diverse, inclusive environment isn’t just paramount to company growth. It can also impact the happiness of your workforce. An inclusive workplace makes people feel respected and safe, and it allows them the opportunity to be their true selves without fear of judgment, harassment, or punishment.
When people are unsatisfied with their work environment, they are more likely to leave or have a negative opinion about their employer. By being inclusive, companies can take measurable steps to reduce churn and retain their top talent.
8 Powerful Ways to Build Inclusion in the Workspace
1. Start from the top
It can be challenging to change the company culture without support from management, which is why the leadership team must understand and prioritize inclusivity within the workplace.
Company leaders have the reach to impact everyone underneath them. Not only should they be setting a good example for the company, but they also have the power to implement goals and actions based on inclusivity. After all, managers should be leading by example to create positive change that spreads throughout the rest of the organization.
One of the most impactful ways to educate managers is to take part in inclusivity training. This will equip them with the right tools to make important changes in their team and within the company as a whole.
2. Integrate inclusivity into your company's core values
A diverse and inclusive workplace is proven to have positive impacts on the success of a company. But simply talking about the benefits of an inclusive environment isn’t enough. Companies need to implement steps to see the benefits of their actions.
As such, many businesses have chosen to add inclusivity as a core company value.
Not only does this affect your company culture, but it also plays a huge role in how your business hires, creates a lasting impression in the community, or manages projects. That’s because a company's value drives decisions that can impact all aspects of the business's future.
Inclusivity as a written company goal also gives new hires a glimpse into what they can expect while working for your company. It states that employees need to embrace differences because ignorance and hatred will not be tolerated.
3. Enhance your communication
The way we communicate with each other has a huge impact on how comfortable we feel in the workplace. All of our interactions must make people feel as safe as possible.
- Use inclusive language: Nobody on your team should ever feel left out. Make sure you’re using neutral words that don’t point out someone’s race, gender, or sexual preference. And, most importantly, don’t assume you know someone’s preferences or background without speaking with them first!
- Communicate with frequent check-ins: Your coworkers may be experiencing challenges that may not seem obvious to others. Now and then, check in with them to see how they are feeling and if there is anything you or the company can assist with to help them through their conflict.
- Create opportunities for conversation among coworkers: Acceptance doesn’t just come from the top - it also comes from other coworkers. Whether it's a meeting or a virtual team-building activity, give your employees time to communicate and connect.
- Create multiple avenues of communication: Face-to-face meetings may not be ideal for everyone. Make it known that people have other preferred methods to ask questions or voice concerns. This could be through live chat software, email, or even an anonymous feedback system.
- Secure your communications at work: Many employees tend to compromise security for business continuity. It is very important to secure their collaboration and ensure data privacy. This could be done with a phone or email validation and verification API process.
4. Provide safe spaces for employees
Employee happiness isn’t just about praise and promotion. It also applies to how comfortable they feel in their work environment. Creating a safe space in the office is crucial for people to feel accepted by their company and by other employees.
For example, consider creating gender-neutral and handicap-accessible restrooms. It may also be important to set aside a room for prayers or breastfeeding parents. Introverted or easily distracted employees may also want a quiet area where they can work without being disturbed by others.
5. Create an inclusivity task force
Many employees feel very passionate about creating an inclusive environment at work. Creating an inclusivity task force would allow them to brainstorm other interesting and meaningful ways to bring more diversity into the company.
The task force can then work with management to create goals or initiatives to pursue. They can also be in charge of planning events that celebrate diversity, like inviting guest speakers into the office, volunteering within local communities, or participating in parades or marches. These activities are important for both knowledge-building as well as promoting acceptance and team bonding.
However, the task force must be compromised of people from different backgrounds. A diverse group of people can help expand the horizons of what the company can offer its employees in terms of activities and events.
6. Provide inclusivity training
Managers and executives aren’t the only ones who need to receive proper training. Inclusivity education can benefit every single person in the organization.
Although there is a lot of overlap, it’s important to remember that inclusivity training is not the same as diversity training. Diversity focuses on who is employed at your company, while inclusivity is more about making those employees feel safe, welcomed, and represented.
However, inclusivity doesn’t have to be a completely separate topic. If your company already has diversity training initiatives, make sure to set aside time to talk about inclusivity, as well. You can also include this training as part of the onboarding process to inform new hires about company expectations before they start.
7. Hold more effective meetings
Team meetings are a great way to bring the team together. But you might find that some employees on your team are less inclined to speak up. Therefore, it’s crucial to create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable sharing their opinions and thoughts in front of others. Here are some easy ways to do so:
- Share meeting materials: The foundation for an effective meeting starts with a game plan. Before you call together your team, make sure you have a goal for the meeting. If possible, send an itinerary of the meeting agenda to all participants beforehand. This will give everyone time to prepare any questions and thoughts that they can bring to the table.
- Reach out to virtual workers: If some of your employees are remote, they may feel left out from groups who are interacting face-to-face. In these situations, make sure that virtual workers get an equal chance to participate in the discussion during your meeting. If you have employees who just started working from home, help them adapt to remote work.
- Give credit: Praise and recognition are essential for team morale. Giving credit where it’s due also enforces the behaviors and goals that are important to the company and sets the standard for how others should behave or interact with each other.
- Allow for discussions: Not all meetings have to be about work-related projects. Sometimes, simply allowing your employees to voice their ideas or interests can be beneficial to the team. Hold town halls, daily check-ins, or team lunches to give everyone the chance to talk with each other.
8. Communicate goals and measure progress
As with any other company goal, communication is key to getting everyone in your team on board. Not only should the problem be identified, but actionable steps and desirable outcomes also need to be conveyed.
It can be difficult for employees to commit to goals when they don’t fully understand why. Therefore, the reasoning behind inclusive initiatives should be discussed in great detail. Show figures and data to teach them about the problem at hand.
Once everyone understands the issue, implement a game plan for progress that includes actionable steps employees can take (personally or as a team) to be more inclusive at work.
Finally, set realistic goals to measure the outcome of your inclusion plan. How will you know your plan was a success? What will this change for the company or the impacted employees? With these measurable goals, your employees can see the results of their labor, motivating them to continue making progress in the future.
Making sure your employees feel accepted and safe at work seems like an obvious task. However, creating an inclusive environment takes work. But by implementing the measures explored in this article, you’ll see just how valuable they are in forming a happy team and successful company.