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How to Build and Maintain an Inclusive Work Environment

by
Anisha Vaswani

A more diverse number of people are entering the workforce at higher rates than before, bringing with them a wide range of different ideas, experiences and ambitions. With their entry into the work force, employers are simultaneously expected to meet this with a more inclusive and representative work environment. Not only is diversity and inclusion (D&I) essential to business survival, but also to increased productivity, happier employees and a better understanding of customers/potential customers.

There are a number of approaches leaders and managers can take to create a safe and inclusive workspace for employees. This goes beyond mentioning diversity and inclusion on company websites. Below are a few ways, out of many, companies can genuinely and sustainably integrate inclusivity into the company culture.

  1. Training and events focused on inclusivity

Training on inclusivity is not only important for the employees of your organisation, but also, and perhaps even more important for the leadership and management team. D&I training for management might include the topics of LGBT+ awareness, mental health awareness, disability inclusion (including mental disabilities), sex, gender and intersectionality, and race inclusion, amongst many others.

It is similarly important to host events and initiatives based on inclusivity, such as pride month mixers, or events with charitable causes.

  1. Use inclusive language

An important and easy way to model inclusive language is to include preferred pronouns in your email signature. This shows awareness and acceptance for transgender and non-binary employees and works towards diminishing the stigma surrounding gender expression.

Of course, this should translate in the language which the company uses on a day-to-day basis. This includes learning and using the preferred pronouns of employees in the organisation, and indeed, prohibiting offensive language or commentary at leadership level as well as from other employees.

  1. Reward employee performance

Frequently checking in on employee satisfaction and performance is key to building trust and safe space for employees to express their needs and challenges in the workplace. This, alongside a no-blame and feedback culture can substantially improve the employee experience. This, alongside recognising and rewarding performance shows employees they are viewed as more than just profit-earners for the company. Recognising employee engagement will be sure to boost morale and reinforce company values. It might even be appropriate to give public recognition to these employees.

  1. Ensure the office is accessible to everyone

It is important for all office space to be as wheelchair-accessible to all. This also includes the kitchen, restroom and any common areas. With the rise of remote working, it is also worth checking in on remote workers and encourage them to do an accessibility and ergonomics check on their home office. Accordingly, employers should be able to provide any tools or resources to ensure employees have a comfortable and accessible home office.

  1. Create a forum

Not only will creating an online forum create a sense of team spirit and inclusion, but it will also give introverts more opportunities to shine, in a way most comfortable for them! Indeed, traditional corporate spaces tend to reward those who are the loudest at meetings or projects. It is important, therefore, to provide equal opportunities for introverts to climb the ladder and have their ideas heard by the organisation.

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