Creating an Inclusive Workplace

In today’s corporate world – and beyond – a change is underway. The increased awareness about and sensitivity to different cultures, genders, classes and abilities that we’ve seen in society at large is gradually taking hold across business. Most would say that’s a good thing, but the development also requires adjustments on the part of many organizations and constant effort in creating an inclusive workplace. 

From hiring to communications – and in some cases both inside and outside of a company – training structures, culture standards and workplace policies may be in need of updating given these new understandings. There are a number of ways to successfully creating an inclusive workplace. Incorporate inclusivity into an organization’s processes and procedures while weaving these sensibilities into the culture of a company are where it beings.

Clear communication. In modern society, many people have strong feelings one way or another about inclusivity. It’s important to firmly communicate changes in policy, communications and hiring across the workplace – but with an understanding that everyone might not be ready to embrace these changes.

Explaining the need for inclusivity can include testimonials from outside or within a company, research on financial outcomes that are affected by the implementation or lack of inclusivity, and examples of how rolling out these new policies can increase worker satisfaction.

New employee training. The easiest place to communicate the need for inclusivity in the workplace is during new hire training, where incoming employees have had no previous exposure to “the way we’ve always done things.” Be sure to communicate that the concepts around inclusivity are part of corporate culture and policies, and that they affect how the company is viewed both internally by employees and externally by customers.

Continuing review of marketing and communications. It’s important to continually review internal and external communications to maintain inclusivity in the workplace. Ensuring that images displayed around the office and associated with company materials include representation of different genders, races and abilities is one example. Along the same lines, written materials should include gender-neutral pronouns, and examples citing different cultures and abilities are essential to any inclusivity policies. It’s worth it, but meeting in-the-moment inclusivity standards takes focused effort.

Seek input from others. Whether it’s one employee screening policy updates and all company communications, or a team of workers tasked with the job, it’s critical that a company seek input from marginalized persons on a regular basis. It might even make sense to create an inclusivity committee that periodically reviews the steps a company has taken to evaluate consistency and its commitment to the cause.

Formalizing inclusivity in the workplace, for some, means orchestrating a series of outward-facing gestures, such as announcing an inclusivity policy. But it’s an ongoing project that requires the embrace of a general spirit of understanding and empathy, and a thousand small tasks. Inclusivity must be ingrained in the workplace – from communications to marketing collateral – which takes time, training and a consistent review process to achieve.

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sgruenCreating an Inclusive Workplace