An inclusive workforce is only part of the equation, but the key to an inclusive work environment is making sure each employee feels included by fair treatment from the authorities. An organization looking to truly emphasize inclusion should create a culture that embraces unique ideas, perspectives, experiences, and people.
You need true commitment from everyone, every day and throughout an organization, to create a culture that feels inclusive. Leaders also need to show they value the people behind the ideas and experiences.
8 Building Blocks of an Inclusive Workplace
The 8 components of an inclusive workplace are as follows:
- Having a Voice
When employees feel like they “have a voice,” they’re more likely to share their opinions with others. Opinions and feedback from employees help authorities know what they want and expect. Thus, it leads to inclusivity at the workplace
An employee’s sense of connection to their company is built on belonging, the feeling that you are a part of an environment that knows and values you. Belonging can happen by accepting and creating awareness of employees’ culture in the workplace.
- Sense of Uniqueness
Just like an employee needs belonging and connection, they also need to feel unique among their colleagues that their company cares about their individual strengths and experiences. So, make sure that employees participate in the activities at the workplace and put across their point of view at the time of important projects.
Diversified employees have a different outlook and unique perspectives, which is beneficial for leaders to look at a situation in a different way which they can’t think of. Therefore, inclusivity can make sure that the uniqueness of every individual is accepted.
- Feeling Valued
When an employee feels that their voice and unique self are appreciated, there’s a greater sense of value and satisfaction. Inclusivity makes sure that employees feel valued.
- Learning and Development
Employees who have access to learning and development opportunities know that their company cares about their ideas, aspirations, and growth. Companies should also have training sessions to set the ground rules for all diverse employees working together for one common goal.
- Collaborative Environment
Regardless of your role or department, a collaborative environment can help break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion.
- Access to Resources
Resources like support from managers or diversity and affinity groups help employees know their organization is committed to their well-being and growth.
- Strategic Alignment
Strategic alignment requires companies to explain why an inclusive workplace is important so that leaders, managers, and employees can put the strategy into action.
12 Tips for Building an Inclusive Workplace
1. Get Buy-in From the Top
- Your biggest allies will be your leadership team to create and promote an inclusive workplace.
- Prioritize inclusivity at your organization by creating awareness among leaders.
- Educate your company’s leaders about the importance of inclusivity. This includes offering diversity and inclusivity (D&I) training at the C-suite level.
- Ensure to create a safe space for your leaders to ask questions that are awkward before leading inclusivity initiatives company-wide.
- Leadership holds a key role in setting an authentic, inclusive tone for all.
2. Integrate Inclusivity into Your Core Values
- Make it a habit to revisit your company’s core values periodically, especially during moments of major change.
- If your core values don’t already include a statement on inclusive culture, get the buy-in from leadership to draft an update and implement it.
- You can even ask for suggestions and feedback from employees company-wide, especially if your leadership and HR teams collectively aren’t very diverse.
- Usually, the additional perspectives may help you to earn crucial top-to-bottom buy-in.
3. Encourage a Culture of Frequent Check-ins
- They are the opportunities to build trust.
- Often trust is key for the open dialogue that allows employees to honestly express their needs or discuss challenges they may experience in your workplace.
4. Create Safe Spaces
- Try to promote non-binary and genderqueer inclusion by providing gender-neutral restrooms; even if this is a small thing, this can bring significant change at the workplace.
- Think about other needs for privacy and safe spaces at work, such as lactation rooms for new mothers, prayer or meditation spaces, and quiet workspaces for workers who may be distracted or overstimulated by open floor plans.
- You can also create digital safe “spaces” by encouraging employees to add pronouns to their email signatures and usernames.
- To fully understand the needs of everyone at your company, be a helping hand to the managers to learn more about their teams.
5. Create an Inclusive Workplace Task Force
- Think about the stakeholders and key players whose input could help bring your organization’s inclusivity culture to life.
- These are usually the foundation of your company, are passionate about inclusivity, and will put in the extra time and effort to realize the vision.
- Authorities are also responsible for bringing new initiatives back to leadership and working with you and other units within the company to implement and communicate change.
- The task force should be diverse, representing not only varying social demographics but also office location and job function.
- Try to be respectful in how you solicit members.
6. Expand Your Company Holiday Calendar
- Little things mean a lot yet are considered significant also, so make sure to include holidays that represent the religious beliefs of your company at large.
- If it’s not possible to make these company-wide holidays, at least acknowledge them on the calendar to raise awareness and increase the sense of recognition and belonging for practitioners.
- This shows your support to all religions, and employees feel valued for their culture.
7. Recognize and Reward Everyone’s Performance
- Recognition increases employee engagement and boosts morale.
- Singling out and rewarding specific behavior also signals your company’s values.
- If you are rewarding the same behaviors, consistently consider the signal this sends to your employees about the specific skills and talents your company values.
- Think about other less visible contributions that help your company, workers, and culture flourish, and queue them up for recognition in the next quarter.
8. Create Events and Initiatives Focused on Inclusivity
- Inclusivity can be assured by screening documentaries during lunch or inviting guest speakers who cover a diverse range of topics.
- Make sure that your organization’s activities promote and support diversity as well.
9. Emphasize Inclusivity in Diversity Training
- Minority employees, though present, may feel excluded or like they aren’t represented in the workplace culture. So, raise awareness of that nuance explicitly in training so that employees can fully embrace the diversity around them, and develop the soft skills to thrive in a diverse environment.
10. Create Opportunities for Conversation
- Encourage a workplace culture of inclusivity by making opportunities for employees to mix and interact.
- This could take a formal structure, but don’t underestimate the authenticity of a casual setting like company-wide lunches, happy hours, volunteer days, or cross-team activities.
11. Provide a Forum for Introverts to Shine
- As part of your inclusivity initiatives, train managers to make space in meetings to hear employees who may be more inclined to hang back, or might feel anxious arguing a salient point.
- Offer to fund noise-canceling headphones and opportunities to give non-verbal feedback, such as suggestion boxes.
- Finally, designate solitary spaces to work so that these thoughtful, talented workers can recharge and keep giving you their best.
12. Include Multilingual Signage
- Installing multilingual signage can instantly signal “all are welcome here” to employees and office visitors.
- It serves as a gentle reminder to employees that they are part of a greater and more diverse world, regardless of the language spoken in the office.
In a Nutshell
Leaders can achieve inclusivity at the workplace can be achieved by leaders to make sure that employees work to the best of their abilities. Creating an environment that motivates, encourages, and helps employees that make them feel valued for their uniqueness is inclusivity.