Every employee seeks an organization that promotes inclusivity. Jobseekers even look for inclusive companies. By being sensible to a more open culture, your institution becomes a place where employees are free, happy, contented, and motivated in everything they do. The workplace becomes a family accepting any ethnicity, gender, religion, race, and age.
If you’re a manager or a business owner who wants to promote inclusivity in your organization but doesn’t know where or how to start, this article is for you. The first step lies in your leadership and management. Given that people in the organization look up to you, you’ll become a primary role model and make use of strategies and methods to foster and promote inclusivity in your company. In turn, this creates an excellent workplace environment and boosts employee loyalty.
Here are tips for you to build an inclusive organization.
1. Conduct Inclusivity Training
Many companies fail to integrate inclusion training into the rest of their development programs. Because of this, inclusion training programs are often disregarded and forgotten. There is a tendency for it to be deemed as nothing of importance because leaders are focused on launching other training programs instead.
However, in this modern world, diversity, equity, and inclusivity are becoming integral to every industry, especially in the education sector. Diversity training in schools is highly-regarded and is needed for educational institutions to be genuinely accepting of anyone and everyone.
Business leaders should instigate the same practice of inclusivity. By getting involved in such training, employees and participants become aware of how inclusion practices combine with how they should communicate, collaborate, delegate tasks, run meetings, and perform other responsibilities in the organization. It should be part of daily practice and routines.
Any culture starts with the top management and leaders, as they become effective role models for members. Everyone benefits from leaders who create an inclusive environment on a daily basis, regardless of their background.
2. Proactively Listen
It is essential to understand the current state of an organization’s culture so you can take the necessary measures to improve it. For this to happen, you need to understand what works for employees, what could be improved, and what is missing in the current work practice. One of the most effective approaches to come up with these answers is to listen to employees proactively. You’ll be surprised at how this simple step can enhance communication in the workplace.
There are several mediums to achieve proactive listening. Aside from holding one-on-one meetings, individual interviews, or exchanging emails, it’s also effective to hand out surveys to your organization members. You can encourage them to provide honest, clear, and transparent opinions and recommendations.
Expect to hear the good and the bad, as these factors can improve your overall culture. Some organizational heads would often seek opinions from key people and leaders alone. It is not an ideal way to foster inclusivity.
Proactively listening means you should listen to people from all levels. Every level of the hierarchy in an organization comes with different sentiments and concerns, and hearing only a specific group or level contradicts the principles of inclusivity.
Regardless of the team member’s level of authority, make sure they are heard and prioritized during sessions. It is one way to ensure you’re promoting an inclusive organization. Having a positive and supportive culture will help junior and mid-tier employees feel valued and see a clear path to career development and organizational growth.
Listen genuinely when your members speak. Keep an open mind when conducting interviews and surveys. Your team members will appreciate your effort and willingness to listen to them. Do this step effectively, and you’ll see good results.
3. Create an Organization with an Inclusive Design
The next tip is to create inclusivity in the overall organizational design. By addressing structural biases, inclusivity can be fostered. To achieve the full potential of all employees, it is best to eliminate exclusionary forces and create an environment where everyone can contribute and grow. It’s time to get rid of any form of discrimination and inequality.
Structured inclusion refers to implementing equitable systems that prevent biases from occurring in the first place and correct them as they happen. It can be achieved by drafting policies and procedures with sturdy and solid sections about diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
An organization’s inclusive design is one important element in fostering inclusivity. However, it’s necessary to emphasize additional variables such as equality and equity in the workplace.
There will be no discrimination based on the identity or level of employment of anyone. As part of their values and codes of ethics, organizations can strive towards equality through non-discriminatory hiring, assessment, promotion, and reward policies and practices.
As for equity, it is the implementation of fair and just policies and practices to ensure the success of all members of the community. Equity differs from equality in the sense that equality implies everyone’s experiences are the same. There is no level playing field for everyone. However, by applying an inclusive design structure, everyone can treat each other fairly.
A person from a certain background is born with advantages or disadvantages that perpetuate inequalities in access, rewards, opportunities, and support. Equality and equity can only be achieved through an inclusive design.
4. Form a Council
In order to administer an inclusive organization, you must form a council for it. This council may have as many representations as possible, from ethnicities to genders. They act as representatives of their respective cultures, race, religion, ethnicity, age, etc. If the top-level management in your organization lack diversity, make sure that council members learn about your company’s diversity strategies.
Every council member doesn’t have to be part of a specific minority group to establish and practice inclusivity approaches and methods. They can be trained and educated well in these important aspects of the organization. However, if a community comes with diverse people from all walks of life, it would be ideal for forming a council rooted in different groups and cultures.
Sometimes, discussions within these groups can provide early warnings of upcoming company issues. Inclusivity, however, should not be the sole responsibility of underrepresented groups within your workforce. While they might be the council members, everyone in the organization is required to take part in inclusive practice and culture.
5. Assign Inclusive Leaders to Take the Lead
Developing inclusive leaders at every level of an organization is key to creating an equitable and inclusive workplace. These leaders are responsible for ensuring that every member’s actions and behaviors are at par with the said culture. Inclusive leaders empower their team members to take risks, have a sense of self-management, and bring their authentic selves to the workplace. Thus, this results in a more organic mix of talents in the organization.
Recently, many large-scale companies worldwide have been ramping up their inclusion efforts. Brands like Disney, Citi, General Motors, Slack, and many more famous big names are nurturing an inclusive culture that focuses on supporting professional development, authenticity, and free contribution. And all these would usually start from the initial efforts of their dedicated company leaders.
Leaders should be visibly committed to ensuring that all members are following an inclusive culture. Their commitment to diversity has to be authentic, as they challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and put diversity at the forefront of their priorities. It is important that they are modest about their capabilities, admit their mistakes, and create a space for others to contribute.
An effective inclusive leader should be able to adapt to cultural differences without losing sight of their worldview. People must be able to express themselves freely in a safe environment.
6. Hold Inclusive Meetings
Meetings are dominated by certain people, restricting minorities from losing their voices and becoming silent followers. To create an inclusive organization, make meetings more efficient. It is important to include the right people in decision-making. No matter what minority group or level of employment they belong to, they should have a voice and a chance to speak during meetings.
People who are underrepresented at work should be given opportunities to take part in reports, presentations, or Q&As during meetings. Establishing objectives and benefits at the beginning of your meeting can reduce interruptions. Introverted and reserved individuals will be encouraged to have a voice through techniques like allowing them access to chat features.
Using materials beforehand can ensure virtual meeting attendees are engaged and included, allowing for equal discussion time. Through these inclusive practices, team members can be their whole, authentic selves and create a more effective meeting approach.
7. Entertain Suggestions From Everyone
Another tip for promoting inclusivity is to be open to everyone’s suggestions. It is common for managers to avoid arguments and conflicts of interest by sticking to the status quo. Sometimes, this means some underrepresented people can’t share their thoughts or solutions. It isn’t good for both the company and employees because some unexpressed solutions might be more effective than the status quo.
If you want to promote inclusivity in your organization, it should be okay to have conflicts of opinion. After all, this is natural and necessary for better decision-making. Each individual’s experiences, viewpoints, concepts, ideas, and motivations differ. That is why it’s important for leaders to listen to and evaluate multiple viewpoints and assess the best measures to take for the common good of the organization.
People feel appreciated and engaged when these differences are respected and understood. It can also strengthen their commitment to the company and the team. Inclusive teams will be less likely to escalate differences into conflicts if they understand diversity and have an inclusive mindset.
An inclusive culture is imperative in any organization, whatever industry you belong to. Having an inclusive organization can contribute to fostering a healthy work environment, thus keeping employees to render service in the company longer. By applying the tips above, you can nurture and grow an inclusive workplace that accepts anyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, culture, and religion.