How to Create an Inclusive Workplace

You’ll hear a lot of talk about “diversity and inclusion,” but just talking about diversity isn’t often enough. Diversity and inclusion aren’t an action. They’re a mindset. It’s something every workplace shouldn’t constantly be striving for and working toward.

If your company hasn’t been actively creating a culture where your employees are respecting and appreciating their peers – and understand how to do so in the structure you’ve created – then you’re simply not doing enough. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to create an inclusive workplace through five steps. Here’s what you should know.

  1. Invest in your leaders

At the end of the day, the inclusivity of your workplace comes down to your organization’s executives and managers. They will set the standard for how your employees are supposed to behave and investing in online diversity training and education for them will make all the difference.

Set up workshops that help facilitate diversity and inclusion learning and then hold your leaders accountable for results. They should be structuring their meetings, allocating resources, and using language that demonstrates mindfulness for diversity and inclusion.

  1. Form an inclusion council

A diversity and inclusion council is a panel that typically consists of 8 to 12 influential leaders who are a level or two below the CEO. These are individuals who are passionate and committed to workplace inclusion and are willing to dedicate additional time to the cause.

The inclusion council will:

  • Set goals about hiring, retaining, and advancing a diverse workforce
  • Address any employee engagement problems among underrepresented employee groups
  • Meet quarterly (or more as needed) to review organizational feedback and troubleshoot challenges
  • Carry messages about their work to their senior peers and C-suite employees
  1. Acknowledge and celebrate employee differences

Knowing that you work for an establishment that respects your background and traditions is powerful. It makes you feel seen and heard. Ask yourself if you’re doing enough as an employer to highlight your employees’ diversity. Are your potluck parties themed based on the nationalities that your employees represent? Do you have meditation and prayer rooms? Do you make it easy for working parents to make time for their families and meet their kids’ needs? Do you make HR accessible to all employees (even the more isolated ones)?

Differences in the workplace should be gracefully acknowledged, celebrated, and accommodated where necessary. Everyone should feel appreciated and comfortable.

  1. Take time to listen to employees

Even if you do all of the above, your workplace won’t be perfect. You want your office culture to be open, genuine, and authentic. One of the best ways to get it there is by listening to the feedback from your employees. Distribute employee surveys, create focus groups on specific issues, have an anonymous suggestion box, hold regular HR office hours when employees can come in and talk without judgment. Your employees are the eyes and ears in your workplace. Make it known that you’re here to listen and improve if your diversity and inclusion efforts aren’t going as planned.

  1. Hold more effective meetings

You may not realize how impactful your daily meetings are, but these are some of the only moments that touch a large portion (if not all) of your employees. Here are some ways you can make your meetings more effective.

  • Distribute meeting materials in advance
  • Share questions that will be discussed
  • Reach out to remote workers and make sure you have the right equipment so that they can be included
    • Be mindful of differing time zones your remote workers may be in
    • Rotate meeting times if necessary so the same remote workers aren’t always missing the meeting
  • Be conscious of communication styles and accommodate the differing communication styles that may be in the room
  • Promote active debate while being courteous
  • Give credit where it is due

Final thoughts

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a process that takes place over time. It is something you’ll need to constantly work at using multiple members of your team. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and integrate the recommended changes.

Interesting Related Article: “10 Tips for Creating a Positive Culture at Work