Tips for Creating a Truly Inclusive Work Environment
In today’s evolving world, inclusion has taken on an increasing level of importance in work settings. In fact, a study conducted by Glassdoor in 2020 showed that 76% of employees look at diversity levels in organizations as a factor when choosing job roles. As such, promoting diversity and inclusion has become a bigger priority for many organizations in recent years.
If you’ve firmly decided that you want to create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace, it can help to have some guidance around the process. Seeing some examples of strategies that can make it easier to see your vision come to fruition will make it simpler to begin and carry out.
Here are some tips for creating a truly inclusive work environment.
Define and Communicate Your Diversity and Inclusion Goals
While you may have a specific vision of inclusion as an organizational leader, your employees won’t be able to strive to meet these ideals if you’re not communicating them clearly. In addition, lofty ideals and fantasies about a perfectly inclusive workplace may sound nice, but they’re not very practical for implementation. This being the case, your first course of action should be determining clear goals around inclusion that you want your employees and organization to reach.
These goals may include things such as increasing the diversity of backgrounds in your division, ensuring that those from marginalized groups have ample opportunities to advance in your company, and ensuring that inclusive language is used in meetings and memos. The more specific your inclusion goals are, the easier it will be to create a game plan and implement them in your organization.
Encourage Open Communication and Active Listening
In any work setting, feeling like you’re unable to speak your mind will make you feel undervalued, unheard, and dissatisfied as an employee. If you’re committed to ensuring that you have an inclusive workplace in which your employees don’t feel this way, it’s vital to encourage open communication — especially when it comes to topics such as diversity and inclusion.
In addition, it’s important that you, along with other organizational leaders, engage in active listening and work to understand what employees are trying to express.
To spark more instances of open communication, it’s important to create safe spaces where employees feel comfortable conveying their thoughts and grievances. This can be through one-on-one meetings, group discussions in which everyone shares their thoughts and feelings or taking time to periodically check in with employees.
The more commonplace open communication and active listening become in your workplace, the more inclusive it will feel to a wide variety of individuals.
Provide Training and Education
While it’s nice to imagine that after conveying your goals to employees your workplace will immediately become more inclusive, the chances of this happening are slim. To truly cultivate an inclusive work setting, you must provide ample and consistent training and education to employees. Educating your employees on inclusion is important because many of them may inadvertently be engaging in non inclusive behaviors such as having a lack of cultural competency.
To remedy any unconscious biases and actions that employees may be regularly engaging in, it’s important to provide examples and train employees on which actions to avoid. By providing tools and a space for employees to examine their behaviors, they’ll be more capable of and likely to engage in inclusive behaviors that ensure that all employees, regardless of background and identity, feel welcomed and included.
Celebrate and Embrace Differences
Celebrating differences is a key aspect of crafting a truly inclusive workplace. Whether one works in an industrial setting or a skyrise office, taking time to champion and celebrate employee differences will have a significant effect on how your employees view diversity among the workforce and inclusivity in work settings. In addition, a study conducted by Mckinsey found that racially diverse teams are a whopping 35% more likely to outperform competitors. By engaging in these types of behaviors, employees from marginalized groups will feel more comfortable being who they are and you’ll be able to attract more racially diverse employees to bolster your team’s potential.
Employee differences can be celebrated in many unique ways. Having celebrations for different cultural holidays can both educate employees about different cultures and provide employees from various backgrounds opportunities to share their cultural experiences with others. Creating awards and highlighting individuals from certain groups will also have a positive effect on how those from minorities feel in your organization. However you choose to go about celebrating employee differences, doing it consistently will alter your work environment and make it feel more inclusive to a diverse range of individuals.
Lead by Example
While creating goals and providing diversity training to your employees is incredibly important, the potency of these efforts will be greatly diminished if you and other organizational leaders aren’t leading by example. Leaders play a central role in determining how inclusive a work environment is, and a lack of effort on your part can result in an unwelcoming and non inclusive workplace.
To truly create change in your workplace, you must hold both employees and yourself accountable for non inclusive behaviors. In addition, it’s key that organizational leaders consistently engage in inclusion and make it a priority to cultivate a welcoming work environment for everyone. By showing employees that you’re genuinely committed to crafting a diverse and inclusive workplace, they’ll be more likely to commit to the cause themselves.
Monitor and Adapt
Though you may engage in large-scale efforts to make your workspace more inclusive, you may not succeed completely with your initial attempts. This highlights the importance of monitoring your efforts and determining what is working well and what is not. By being honest and objective with yourself about your inclusivity efforts, you’ll be in a better position to adapt and make the necessary changes to cultivate an inclusive work setting for your employees.
One effective tactic you can utilize is asking employees for feedback. This can be through private meetings or even anonymous questionnaires. The more input you’re able to gain from employees, the more accurately you’ll be able to assess how effective your inclusivity efforts have been. In addition, they can offer you guidance on how to tweak your efforts and make them more impactful in your workspace.
An Inclusive Work Environment Is Within Reach
Creating an inclusive work environment is well within your reach as an organizational leader. By taking advantage of some key tips, you’ll be able to create a welcoming space in which all people, regardless of who they are, will feel included and valued. Though it may be tricky to know exactly where to start, referring to the tips on this list can help make the process clearer and less intimidating.
Ryan Ayers is a strategy and management consultant with over five years of experience in multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers.
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