Inclusion in the workplace is an idea that many people know about. However, the number of people who understand what it means to be inclusive is very few. To be inclusive is to embrace diversity in all forms, not just regarding race or gender but also in opinions and beliefs. This may sound nice in theory, but it comes down to practice.
By creating an inclusive environment, businesses can attract and retain top talent; improve productivity and creativity. To create an inclusive workplace, organizations must first understand inclusion and develop policies and practices that support it.
Why is Inclusion Important?
Inclusion is about making everyone feel welcome and bringing together different people from various backgrounds. To be truly inclusive, the environment must respect diversity in people’s opinions, ideas, attitudes, beliefs, ethnicities, and cultures. Inclusiveness also allows for differences of opinion and individual value systems to co-exist. As a result, everyone in the workplace is afforded an equal opportunity to be heard.
For inclusion to positively impact workplaces, organizations need to establish a culture of respect and embrace diversity in their workforce. This means businesses need to hire various people with different backgrounds and experiences. For example, a safe, respectful environment where people are encouraged to speak their minds will help ensure that diverse perspectives are heard, regardless of the rank or stature of the person speaking.
The following practices can help businesses create an inclusive workplace:
Foster a Culture of Respect
Respect is at the heart of inclusion. Without it, diversity can be perceived as a threat. Feeling threatened makes people less likely to be open or honest about their thoughts and ideas. Respecting diversity means accepting different points of view and encouraging people to share them, even if they could offend others.
People should feel comfortable enough in the environment to speak up without fear that they will be unjustly critiqued or shamed. This can be achieved by encouraging and modeling respectful communication and behavior at all times and holding people accountable for their words and actions.
Enable Bright Ideas
Inclusion increases the likelihood that diverse perspectives will be heard and encourages people to speak up when they have an idea, concern, or solution to a problem.
While each individual’s beliefs may not always be accepted, the organization must allow people to weigh in on topics that affect them or are knowledgeable about. This means hiring a wide range of people with different skills and experiences and allowing them to share their knowledge.
Be Transparent About Company Priorities
Increasing transparency requires setting goals for the organization and communicating company priorities so everyone can understand. This helps people see why specific policies are essential, how they contribute to bigger-picture goals, and their role in achieving them.
Lead by Example
Creating an inclusive workplace means demonstrating respect for everyone in the organization. This includes providing feedback promptly, giving constructive criticism rather than judging people on their performance, rewarding positive behaviors and results, and hiring the best people for the job.
People with disabilities are among the most under-represented groups in today’s workforce. Although some organizations have reached out to individuals within this population, they often do so without considering the needs of each individual. As a result, many people with disabilities have not been able to find employment within their field of interest.
Several organizations have recognized the unique struggles people with disabilities face in finding employment and have taken steps to remove them. For example, many organizations provide adaptive technology for employees who need it to complete their jobs. This includes having remote access to computers and devices or providing tools such as word prediction software that helps individuals with motor disabilities input data faster.
Other organizations have developed programs that bring together people with and without disabilities in the workplace. This allows both groups to experience what it’s like to work in an inclusive work environment while learning more about each other.
In addition, some employers have also initiated outreach efforts to individuals within the disability community. This includes hosting job fairs for people with disabilities and identifying outreach programs that match their interests.
Inclusion values diversity by creating an environment where differences are celebrated and used to benefit the organization. By having an inclusive mindset, people will be more inclined to commit to shared goals, work effectively together, and feel included within their teams. By following the steps outlined in this article, organizations can create a culture supportive of all individuals, which helps increase innovation and retention rates while enhancing overall organizational performance.