How to create an inclusive work culture
Building a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming gives all employees the opportunity to achieve their full potential, creating an environment that enables people to thrive. With 71% of millennials stating that diversity and inclusion is important to them when considering a new employer, it has never been more important for organisations to understand how having a diverse and inclusive culture can impact their bottom line.
1. It all starts at the top.
Company culture starts at the top. Ensuring fairness and feeling of belonging will normally start at the leadership level and will follow a top down approach. Your leaders should have a genuine desire to build a diverse culture and work with people from all backgrounds, nationalities, skins tones, genders, abilities and sexual orientations. If diversity and inclusion are left to chance the workplace culture change will never happen.
Diverse workplaces create more productive teams because people bring different ideas, experiences and thinking styles into the group. However, not everyone has been given an equal chance in life. Therefore some groups of people might simply be less represented in certain industries because they are not given an opportunity or they do not feel welcome in those environments because they don’t see anyone like them there.
2. Focus on inclusive recruitment strategies
People tend to hire people like them, it is human nature. Therefore, people responsible for recruitment in your organisation need to be aware of their biases and be open to giving an equal opportunity to people from all groups of society, especially to those most marginalised. Your recruitment team needs to ensure that your company’s recruitment process is fair and inclusive. Recruitment processes have to be designed in such a way that they encourage diverse applicants. Having non-biased job adverts and offering flexible working hours can help attract more diverse talent.
Implementing inclusive recruitment tactics into your employment strategy will ensure that opportunities are open to a wider pool of candidates. This starts from writing an inclusive job description to fair shortlisting of candidates and then the interview process. Preparing for the interview ensures that you make a decision based on evidence rather than a gut feeling, which can be biased.
Training on unconscious bias can also be beneficial, as well as acknowledging that hiring decisions are sometimes influenced by unconscious biases. Some companies have introduced a CV vetting process of removing names, gender pronouns and other identifying information from applications before reviewing them, so that the reviewers focus only on the applicant’s accomplishments without making a biased judgement.
3. Create safe spaces for everyone
A diverse workforce, who feel like they belong, will always be a more productive and creative force. Providing safe spaces for employees, especially those who could are seen as marginalised is important in creating an inclusive workplace culture. Don’t just create an EDI policy and think that your job is done. Think about how you can support people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and women, as well as members of the LGBT+ community.
You should also consider how you can make your office more accessible to all employees. If you have staff who require regular treatment or specialist equipment, such as a wheelchair or a hearing loop, then it is important to ensure that your office space is equipped for their needs.
Diversity training can be a great way to ensure that everyone from the CEO down knows what is expected of them. Ensure that diversity training is mandatory for all staff and that it is reviewed regularly. To keep everyone up to date, provide ongoing training on current diversity and inclusion issues. Host company-wide training sessions or small group discussions about topics related to diversity and inclusion, including harassment awareness training, unconscious bias training, relationship building, communication skills and cultural sensitivity.
4. Connect with employees
Creating an inclusive work culture does not have to be expensive or disruptive to your existing business processes. While making some adjustments will require some effort, the main focus should be on helping employees feel respected and valued for who they are and what they do. Great culture starts with fostering an environment where everyone feels safe to be themselves and bring out their best.
One of the great ways to get started is by connecting with employees on a personal level. This step requires a lot of sensitivity, patience and empathy as each person you work with has different needs, wants and fears when it comes to their job.
Be transparent about your own life and avoid stereotypes. For example, asking about “partners” or “spouses” rather than using gendered terms such as “husband” or “wife”, should be a starting point and can signal understanding and inclusion to LGBTQ+ employees.
5. Give all employees multiple ways to provide feedback.
Giving employees an opportunity and platform to share their stories, life experiences and feedback will help in creating an open culture of inclusion. Having an open and ongoing dialogue is priceless for understanding each other and creating mutual respect and understanding everyone’s individual perspective.
Foster positive team relationships that promote openness and respect among colleagues. These relationships will help prevent bullying or other negative behaviour in the workplace.
If you feel that we can help your organisation, then contact us now on 0800 612 7429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free EDI audit and consultation on your needs.