Does Your Business Use These Inclusive Workplace Practices?

July 16, 2021
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Author: Rosie Greaves, Contributing Writer

Inclusion in the workplace is described as the value and acceptance employees feel within their teams and the broader organization, without needing to conform. In short, inclusive organizations make an effort to support employees regardless of their background, which can be incorporated into the hiring process, promotions, development, leadership and team management.

Are you doing enough to make your workplace inclusive, and what could you do better?

Not only is creating an inclusive environment the 'right' thing to do. But it also increases employee engagement and fosters a sense of belonging in the workplace, which in turn leads to improved performance and employee retention. Inclusion is at the forefront of employee satisfaction and wellbeing and goes hand in hand with diversity, too. When workplaces are inclusive, diversity is not only able to exist but thrive. 

In light of all that, it's no wonder a staggering 80% of employees consider inclusion an essential factor when selecting an employer. 

Given the huge impact that inclusion can have on your business, are you doing enough to make your workplace inclusive, and what could you do better? Let’s see what is working for successful inclusion programs.

Celebrate Differences

Ensuring employees feel recognized and celebrated is the best way to promote an inclusive workplace. One way to achieve this is to celebrate important dates for other cultures and communities.

You could highlight inclusive holidays on the company calendar, promote open-minded discussions about these events in the office, and encourage employees to educate themselves if necessary. Many companies have transitioned their traditional U.S. set holiday schedule to provide a more inclusive schedule enabling employees to select some of their own holidays. For example, Thanksgiving, Independence Day and New Years are shared company closure days, while other days are open to personal choice.

To make this practice work, ensure everyone’s voice is heard and that employees from different backgrounds have a means of sounding their concerns and providing suggestions on improving workplace inclusivity.

Make Inclusion Meaningful from the Get-go

Successful programs emphasize inclusiveness from the beginning of the hiring process in recruiting materials and the phrasing of job descriptions. Orientation can make new employees aware that your organization is a safe space for everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and sexuality. 

Examples of orientation topics that could also be helpful for annual update training are:

  • Draw attention to your organization’s specific policies surrounding discrimination and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Ask your employees to sign a pledge that indicates they agree to respect these policies. 
  • Make new hires aware of the avenues available to pursue if they face discrimination in the workplace, including company procedures and legal avenues. 

Ensuring employees feel protected from the start works wonders for ensuring they feel supported. In addition, establishing yourself as an inclusive employer goes a long way to securing recruits that reflect your company’s morals and standards.

Empathetic Leadership

No matter how good your inclusion practices or commitments are from HR, they mean nothing without empathetic leadership. For inclusion to work, employees need to feel safe, supported and recognized by the company’s executives and managers. Leaders need to really believe in the value of inclusive workplace practices and be wholly committed to making employees feel celebrated. 

Some companies have provided leader training more compassionate leadership, implement courses in emotional intelligence and empathy. 

Empathy comes from understanding the other person, in this case employees. Leaders who are open to receiving feedback from employees about their own behavior and who are willing to adapt and improve if necessary, demonstrate their dedication to inclusion and set the tone for the company.

Inclusive HR Policy

Although it’s not a legal requirement to have a documented Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy, it’s good practice to do so. For example, your HR department should ensure their current recruitment policy and practices are updated to attract candidates from different backgrounds. It's also imperative to review current recruitment practices, reassess existing employee policies and how they are being applied over time and mark inclusive cultural holidays on the calendar as a highly visible commitment to inclusion.

It's also worth focusing on retaining diverse talent, which you can do by collecting regular employee feedback and implementing suggestions for improvement.  

Inclusion Councils

An inclusion council is a group of employees (which can and should include leaders and executives) acting on behalf of the company to manage diversity and inclusion. Inclusion councils usually have diverse membership.

Inclusion councils can help organizations meet their inclusivity goals and foster real, meaningful change in the workplace. In addition, they collect metrics to track progress on things like representation, hiring, turnover, promotions and time in position. 

Inclusion councils can benefit the workplace as “practices that assign organizational responsibility for change,” which go a long way to help resolve inequalities in the workplace. 

In addition, research also suggests that offering education on inclusivity is most effective when connected to an organization’s larger strategies. This indicates that employing inclusion councils in the workplace is usually more successful when part of a larger context. 

Are You Ready to Create a More Inclusive Workplace?

Inclusive workplaces are in high demand, yet some employers are still failing to improve their inclusivity practices. The benefits are endless - from happier employees who can be more productive, a more diverse workplace that can bring a broad perspective to company solutions and improved retention rates that reduce the cost of turnover. There’s every reason to make your workplace as inclusive as possible - starting today!