Creating an inclusive culture in the workplace has a plethora of benefits, both for the company and its employees. Embracing and valuing employees of different backgrounds helps bring innovation, creativity, improved performance, and a strong company culture.
Research has shown that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments, and companies with more women on the board statistically outperform their peers over a long period of time.
But, what are inclusivity behaviours in the workplace, and how can you incorporate them? Read on for everything you need to know.
Workplace inclusion is the process of providing every member of your organisation with equal access to professional resources and opportunities by supporting and encouraging each employee to be their authentic self.
We live in a diverse culture, and organisations should reflect this. Of course, diversity isn't the same as inclusivity. It's not enough to check a ‘diversity and inclusion' box by simply hiring a diverse workforce. This is only half the picture. There also needs to be a sense of openness and connection among employees.
Inclusivity is the next step to supporting your diverse workforce. It's creating an inclusive atmosphere that welcomes all employees and includes them. Making and demonstrating a sense of belonging, respect, appreciation, and connection with an engaging culture. Everyone needs to feel welcome, safe, and free to be themselves.
After all, there's no point in bringing talent into your company if they're not going to be happy, as well as offered opportunities to grow once they join. Inclusivity behaviours allow the different voices within your organisation to be heard and valued.
Inclusion starts from the top down, so it's essential that business leaders display inclusive behaviour by example.
Here are six examples of consciously inclusive behaviours to foster in the workplace.
Team meetings are a great way for employees on all levels to get to know each other and respect each other's differences.
Consider arranging a weekly or monthly employee survey or team meeting (or company-wide meeting depending on the size of your organisation) where everyone is encouraged to discuss company policies. Not only does this give employees a chance for their voices to be heard in a constructive way, but it allows the company leadership to hear from their team and take their comments or concerns into consideration.
Any important points can be flagged and feedback can be given in either the next meeting or in a round-robin email.
In all forms of professional communications, you should make every effort to model inclusive language.
This includes learning and using the preferred pronouns of your employees and using the terms “partner” or “spouse” rather than “husband” or “wife.”
Encourage employees to use their preferred pronouns in their email signatures, titles and other forms of communication, if they wish.
Helping your employees to feel safe and valued at work is a great step towards inclusive behaviour.
Think about the needs for privacy and safe spaces at work, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers, prayer or mediation spaces, and quiet workspaces for employees who might need a break from overstimulating work environments.
To fully understand the needs of your employees, have regular meetings with line managers to learn more about their teams, as employees may feel awkward speaking up for themselves.
For minority groups, small changes can mean a lot and help them feel more included and heard. Representation matters, and including holiday days that represent the beliefs of these groups can make a world of difference.
In addition to Christan and secular holidays, include the major high holy days for Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu employees (for example). Acknowledging them on a company-wide calendar will raise awareness and create a sense of recognition and belonging.
Rewarding and recognising your staff drives employee engagement and boosts morale.
If you work in a sales-driven company, instead of just recognising the same people consistently (those who are at the forefront of the sales force), consider vocalising your appreciation for those employees with less visible contributions. Accounting, assistants, PAs, receptionists, etc. Look at how their work helps your company flourish through their actions and publicly recognise them for it.
Praise and rewards should come at all levels, creating an inclusive, happy and valued workforce.
Regular one-on-one sessions with your employees help build trust and create a workspace where your staff are allowed to speak their minds and open their hearts.
Employees should be encouraged to open up about their challenges and any negative or positive experiences in a non-judgmental space. This is a great way to learn from your staff and perhaps address any weaknesses, strengths and areas within the company that can be worked on.
Empathetic leadership is an integral part of a healthy and inclusive workplace, making your employees feel that they are important and their wellbeing matters. Maintain an open mindset so your staff know they can always talk to you about their problems or their ideas.
Through maintaining an inclusive company culture, staff feel important, valued and encouraged to maximise their true potential. By adopting inclusive behaviours within your organisation, you are creating a workplace that is safer and more respectful for your employees.