How To Create A More Inclusive Workplace

Inclusive workplaces ensure that whatever their gender, sexual orientation, faith or ethnicity, all employees of an organisation are appreciated, valued and included in major decision-making processes, both on a day-to-day basis and in future planning. Here’s how to create that workplace.

Carry Out An Inclusion Review

You can only find out how inclusive your business is if you are prepared to ask difficult questions about whether certain groups amongst your staff feel isolated or unrepresented in your corporate environment. An inclusion review allows you to evaluate effectively whether the make-up of your staff and in particular, your senior staff matches the demographics who your products and services serve and the local community (or communities) in which your business operates. This review will also uncover whether any of your company’s policies or any aspects of its culture (both formal and informal) cause any of your team to feel excluded.

From this point, you can then consult your team on what changes you should make across your business, to make anyone who may feel excluded realise how intrinsic their presence is to the whole team’s success.

Make All Of Your Employees Feel Welcome

Each of your employees need to be assured that their feelings matter and that their contributions at work are valued equally. This means that they need to be actively included in conversations in the office and in the social events that happen outside of it. Using language that assumes that all employees are cis-gender, married, eat meat and drink alcohol is highly likely to leave many of your colleagues feeling excluded from your team and isolated. By contrast, if you talk about partners, spouses, avoid language that refers to gender stereotypes, and ensure that all of your events are sensitive to the diets and religious beliefs of your entire team; you will ensure that everyone feels welcome whenever they interact with their colleagues inside or outside of the office. All areas of your office and any venues at which you hold socials should be fully accessible to any of your team members who may have reduced or limited mobility so that they can be fully involved in everything that takes place.

Encourage Your Employees To Work Together

Very often, your employees can spend most of their time in front of the same computer when they’re in the office and might only talk to a few colleagues from the same department as them. This can significantly limit their contact with diverse employees, and the consequent exposure to the variety of opinions and creative ideas that they contribute to team discussions. By spreading projects across departments and encouraging employees who would not normally speak to each other to share ideas, you can foster a significant understanding of and appreciation for the talents of employees from a variety of beliefs, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations and cultures.

Involve Employee Resource Groups In Any Policy Changes

If you do not already have employee resource groups in which different groups of employees can meet and discuss challenges with which they are faced in the workplace: create them. Then consult relevant resource groups whenever making policy changes or office adjustments that will impact on their members’ work lives. Moreover, if any of these groups ask for an adjustment to be made then make the effort to meet with their representatives and explore how this adjustment could be made. There is nothing worse than proposing adjustments to senior management and waiting weeks for a response – only to learn that your plans are still sitting on a PA’s desk and have been collecting more dust than attention.

On the other hand; if senior management actively engages with these resource groups – rather than obliging them to conform to decisions made in a boardroom far, far away – then they will assure all of their employees that they are fully included in every decision-making process that affects them.

Place Inclusion At The Forefront Of Your Business

By detailing your company’s disdain for discrimination in all of your corporate literature and on posters which are displayed prominently throughout all of your premises, you will leave your employees in no doubt that you are working hard to create a workplace in which they all feel welcome, all of the time.

You Can’t Have An Inclusive Workplace Without Inclusive Meetings

If your meetings always involve the same few people speaking for what feels like hours at a time while half of the room is on their mobile phones, and the international team joining via video link are half awake because it’s 5am where they are, then your meetings aren’t doing their job. Meetings are supposed to allow your employees to contribute their ideas to discussions in an environment of respect. By changing your agendas to promote as many contributions as possible, organising meetings at times that are convenient for everybody involved, and banning mobile phones so that everyone feels as though their colleagues are actively listening to their contributions; you can create meetings that allow everyone to have their say, and reflect the more inclusive workplace that you are creating.

Encourage Your Entire Team To Take Part In Diversity Training

We all have unconscious biases. Even if we feel as though we are the most tolerant people in the office, we will still unknowingly make certain assumptions when talking to colleagues from diverse backgrounds. Diversity training enables us to realise when we are expressing this bias, both verbally and through our body language. We can then pick up on this and change how we communicate to show our diverse colleagues how much we appreciate them.

If you need some help in hiring a more diverse team, why not speak to a member of our team today? Let’s talk about your workplace environment over a coffee. Please give me a call on 07738 279413. Thanks and I hope you enjoy our latest Blog, Kate

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