Along with diversity and equity, inclusion is growing more and more important for modern businesses. A company that values and practices inclusion every day is highly attractive to job seekers, investors, and current employees. With a pulse on inclusive efforts, an organization can improve its culture and grow its business.
How exactly does a workplace become inclusive? It can be difficult navigating company culture. However, straightforward guidance and practical steps can help any team transform and evolve.
What is inclusion at work?
Inclusion in the workplace is the process of developing a company culture and environment that acknowledges and values every employee. Inclusive organizations use everyone’s strengths and perspectives to achieve goals. Every team member feels connected to the organization. Inclusive practices promote diversity and encourage belonging in corporate settings.
Why is cultural inclusion at work important?
Cultural inclusion is important for many reasons. By prioritizing inclusive initiatives, a company can grow in countless ways. Consider the following benefits of inclusion at work.
- Healthy and well-rounded workplace environment
- Increased employee engagement, empowerment, and productivity
- Improved creativity and innovation
- More job seekers and top-tier talent attracted
- Diverse and unique perspectives to make an organization more competitive
10 Steps to build an inclusive workplace
With a basic understanding of inclusion and useful ideas and tips, any organization can build out inclusive measures for its team. Over time, you will try different approaches and discover what works best for your people. Consider the following steps to develop inclusion at work.
Revaluate and unite the executive team
When making changes to company culture, it’s important to lead by example. This way, leaders can serve as role models and show how to be inclusive at work.
To start, consider educating and training leaders on inclusivity in the workplace. Once they reach a shared understanding, executives and managers can set the tone for the rest of their teams.
From there, you may require diversity and inclusion training for all employees. This way, everyone is on the same page moving forward.
Recognize all employees
Recognition programs support inclusion by celebrating staff merit and accomplishments. Whether applauding work anniversaries or quarterly achievements, it’s crucial that each team member is included and rewarded. However, there are countless ways to put employee recognition in the workplace into action. Giving out custom designed awards or even simple thank-you notes, shows employees that their work really matters, which encourages them to keep doing well.
Refine recruitment and onboarding practices
The best inclusive practices start when a person first interacts with your company. For instance, a job seeker discovers your job posting online. Consider explaining your inclusive practices in that posting.
In general, it’s important to show candidates and new hires what inclusion looks like to your business. Perhaps, include gender pronouns in email signatures, or ensure your facilities are wheelchair accessible and include multilingual signage and resources.
Create and support safe spaces
A safe space is designed to give people a place where they are not judged or discriminated against for their differences. These places may be abstract like conversations that promote safety, belonging, and diversity. On the other hand, safe spaces can take on a literal form like a private room created for people of a specific group to share.
Organizations can develop an inclusion council or task force to streamline a company’s strategy. The members of this group should show commitment to inclusion and offer diverse perspectives.
Also, affinity groups can help foster connections in corporate environments. People with shared identities or experiences can build relationships at work. For instance, Hispanic team members or those who live with mental health issues can find a safe space with each other.
Use and model proper language
Inclusive practices can be big and small. Every day, it goes a long way when inclusive language is used in the office and in online communication. For example, coworkers can ask about each other’s “partners” instead of husbands, wives, and spouses to include LGBTQ+ peers and unmarried colleagues.
Additionally, it’s important to use an employee’s preferred gender pronouns when speaking about them. This attention to detail shows people that others care for them and want them to feel comfortable and respected.
Build relationships with staff
Getting to know the people you work with is crucial to an inclusive workplace because you get to learn what matters to these people. As employees discover their differences, they can find unique ways to celebrate them. Also, you can better understand your team and its needs.
Consider organizing events to help build connections and to give diversity a platform so that it can shine. Examples include a potluck to feature different cuisines, forums to discuss company challenges, and an expanded calendar to include holidays important to all employees.
Encourage and respect employee feedback
Giving people the power and place to have their opinions heard is essential to inclusive and sustainable workplaces. It’s important to offer multiple channels for employees to give feedback. This may include an anonymous submission form online, suggestion boxes in offices, and one-on-one meetings with managers.
Also, consistent check-ins help measure program success by asking employees for their thoughts on new changes. By having open and frequent conversations, effective communication is improved, and staff members feel like they have someone they can trust.
Look to other companies for inspiration
By seeing what success looks like for others, you can better envision growth for your own team. What are other businesses doing for diversity? What inclusion initiatives have they found success with? When comparing yourself to organizations like yours, you get a better idea of what might work best for your team.
It’s easy to plan a one-off event to honor diversity, but the hard work and true pay-off comes when integrating inclusion into everyday practices. Meetings happen every day, so consider restructuring them to be more inclusive.
To refine meetings, organizers can share materials ahead of time for non-native English speakers who may need more time to prepare. Also, consider time zones difference when scheduling and ensure everyone can access the necessary technology. During meetings, managers can host discussions to encourage people to share unique perspectives and meaningful concerns.
Share inclusion goals with the entire company
By creating and sharing goals with everyone, an organization shows it’s serious about improving. Also, this may help with garnering employee participation and buy-in. To go a step further, share your progress with the whole team on a regular basis. Consider how employee feelings and satisfaction have changed since the start of new inclusive practices.
Final thoughts on inclusion at work
An inclusive company culture helps an organization grow in so many ways. Now equipped with insightful tips and ideas, you can help your team take its first step in the right direction.
Remember that change takes time. With patience and grace, a business can truly transform itself for the better. Inclusion takes hard work to keep up but is well worth the effort.