Three things you can do right now to ensure an inclusive workplace

This year the media has been dominated with diversity, equality and inclusion headlines and stories. This is a reminder that despite coming far in many ways, there is still work to be done when it comes to wholly inclusive workplaces.

There are many benefits of a fully inclusive and diverse workplace. A workforce that encompasses all ethnicities, disabilities, generations, genders, and sexualities depicts a realistic representation of your customer base, and therefore greater understanding of their challenges and aspirations in life. In fact, McKinsey’s ‘Delivering Through Diversity’ report found that companies with ethnically diverse boards were 43% more likely to outperform on profits.

From every standpoint, an inclusive workplace makes good business sense. This is a workplace environment that is collaborative, open, fair and accountable. One that puts employee wellbeing at the forefront of operations to encourage engagement.

There are many ways that you can create an inclusive environment. We’ve compiled three to get you started.

 

Listen to your employees

Listen to what they’re saying. To create an inclusive workforce, you need to understand (and want to improve) the experience of your employees. This includes tackling issues they face when it comes to inclusion and engagement.

There are several ways you can do this. Anonymous employee surveys and focus groups alongside regular team or business meetings can give a good insight into individuals’ thoughts and feelings. These are meetings where two-way communication is encouraged, and concerns can be voiced in confidence. It is one thing to be a diverse workforce, but it is another to be an inclusive workforce – something that requires a strategic and continued commitment.

By first assessing the current state and employee perception of the inclusivity of your business, you can understand what needs improving and what needs implementing.

 

Rethink the hierarchical structure

Rather than be structured for true collaboration, many businesses are still operating under a traditional hierarchy. A result of this is the stunting of ideas and inspiration, creating departmental divides. This prevents colleagues interacting, sharing knowledge and challenging current processes.

In creating a company structure that builds inter-department relationships, employees in every area of the business feel empowered to bring their knowledge and perspective to the table. Without fear of judgement, there are more opportunities for cooperation, and new ideas can flourish.

This change can also impact day-to-day happenings, such as meetings. Inviting every employee to run sessions on a rota, you can prevent the cycle of some staff members becoming disengaged while others regularly speak. By encouraging everyone to take turns at running regular meetings, you signify that all voices are important, and everyone’s contributions are valued.

 

Actively understand and address bias

Whether conscious or unconscious, bias can lead to misunderstanding, wrong conclusions and missed opportunities or failings. This impacts many areas of business including recruitment, retention, HR and performance management, and customer relations.

Bias can hinder the recruitment process, acting as a direct barrier to creating an inclusive workplace. When it comes to staff retention, employees want to feel comfortable in bringing their ‘whole’ or ‘authentic’ self to work, and it is the job of the whole team to work to identify and address their own bias. Making a conscious effort to understand one another’s background, experience, passions and hobbies is a good way to overcome this.

Creating an inclusive workplace brings many benefits to your business. By feeding the above into day-to-day actions, it will communicate to your employees that you are serious about building a workplace that welcomes all individuals, ideas and contributions. In turn, this influences behaviour and moulds the company culture.

If you’re looking for a qualified, inspired professional to help build an inclusive place to work, we can help you to source this talent. Speak with the Anne Corder Recruitment team today to learn more.

About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder

Owner

Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.