Inclusion Tips – easy ways to help everyone feel welcome and be their authentic self at work

As humans, we crave connection, a sense of belonging, and acceptance for who we are. Furthermore, we each bring unique values and deserve to feel safe and respected in the workplace. When companies embrace diversity, they are rewarded with improvements in creativity and innovation, increased employee productivity, and a robust company culture that is essential for retaining staff.

With that said, diversity is only one side of the coin. The practice of inclusion is crucial in supporting a diverse workforce. Companies that fail to create a culture of inclusion may struggle to unlock the benefits of diversity.

So, what does inclusion look like in the workplace, and how can you achieve it?

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Inclusion and diversity are often seen as interchangeable concepts. However, while both are essential in developing a positive company culture, they are, in fact, independent practices.

Diversity refers to a workforce with varying characteristics, including genders, ethnicity, ages, religions, physical and mental disabilities, LGBTQ+, and many more. In comparison, inclusion is the practice of respecting and valuing all employees regardless of their background and ensuring that everyone has equal access to the resources they need to succeed.

As the saying goes…

“Diversity is like inviting people to a party, and inclusion is asking them to dance and offering them a refreshment.”

Inclusivity Drives Business Performance

A diverse and inclusive workplace fuels business success and recent statistics prove it!

  • Deloitte reports that inclusive workplaces are 6 times as likely to be innovative and have 2.3 times the cash flow per employee over non-inclusive workplaces.
  • McKinsey studies have revealed that 43% of companies with diverse boards achieved higher profits.
  • Diverse teams are 87 % better at decision-making.
  • An increase in individuals’ feelings of inclusion was shown to translate to a 17% increase in team performance and a 29% increase in collaboration.

Moreover, a two-year study by Bersin by Deloitte found that talent practices that predict the highest-performing companies are all focused on building an inclusive talent system.

Five Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in The Workplace

1. Leadership and Staff Training

As with any element of company culture, leadership needs to walk the talk. We all come to the table with different backgrounds and unconscious biases. Diversity and inclusion training can help us to be more aware of these biases and how they can impact our decision-making at work. Extensive staff training, including new hire induction, is also vital for ensuring company policies are effectively communicated.

2. Inclusive Recruitment Strategies

Examine your company’s recruitment tactics to ensure you are considering diversity and inclusion throughout the process. Sometimes putting biases aside can be challenging, despite our best intentions. Working with a specialist recruiter with expertise in the field can be highly beneficial and is a great way to have an objective third party in the recruitment process.

3. Support and Celebrate Employee Differences

At the essence of it all, we are human and wired to seek connection and acceptance. Focus on cultivating an environment of open-mindedness and communication in the workplace where employees are encouraged to share their opinions, values, and beliefs in a safe, supportive way. You can promote the celebration of employee differences by creating a diversity and inclusion calendar that highlights different cultural events of significance to be celebrated throughout the year. This tradition can be a fantastic prompt for staff to share information about their culture and values and facilitate relationship building.

4. Improve Accessibility

As an employer, you are required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees with a disability. When most people think of accessibility, they typically think of physical accommodations such as wheelchair ramps or office equipment. However, accessibility also extends to providing neurodiverse employees with the resources and accommodations they need to succeed in the work environment.

For example, an employee may have difficulty talking to people in person and prefer to communicate through email. When a company accepts this type of accommodation and encourages other staff to do so, it creates a sense of safety and belonging that leads to improved employee performance.

5. Encourage Communication Around Inclusion

Open communication around diversity and inclusion is vital. Workplace policies and expectations should be clearly outlined, and staff should be encouraged to provide feedback to management consistently. Try to make diversity and inclusion a recurring topic of conversation so that employees feel like this is more than just a policy but a key value of the company culture.

Key Takeaways

Diversity and inclusion are more than policies and programs. These practices are about human connection and respect. A company that embraces diversity and inclusion will reap the rewards of a workforce that feels safe, accepted, and valued. As the statistics suggest, the financial and business performance benefits are significant, but at the end of the day, creating a work environment that encourages the values of humanity might be the most important reward of all.