As workplaces shift in demographics and grow more culturally diverse, there are bound to be misunderstandings and conflicts that arise. Inclusion will become harder and harder, as will a company’s ability to please everyone and be “fair”. At The Corporate Fixers, we have our thoughts and opinions about solutions but in the spirit of inclusivity, we wanted to hear from others. So we asked 9 experts “What’s one way to help increase inclusion in the workplace?” In order to maintain an efficient and fair workplace environment, here are nine business leaders with tips on how to increase inclusion in your workplace.
- Respect Parts of People That Make Them Unique
- Reframe Leadership Training
- Take a Holistic Approach
- Leverage Flexible Work Hours
- Start with an Inclusive Onboarding Process
- Understand and Eliminate Cultural Conditioning Biases
- Recognize and Respect Multiple Religions and Cultures
- Focus on Workplace-Wide Active Listening Practices
- Set Clear Expectations for Behavior
Respect Parts of People That Make Them Unique
Managing international teams requires cross-culture training and relocation training. Working with representatives of other cultures and faiths requires a lot of openness and a willingness to understand each other. When welcoming a new person, it’s always a good idea to start with the question, “What do you need? How do we make you comfortable?” We can’t require someone to leave their identity at home, but we can set boundaries together.
The cultural background from which an employee comes depends on many factors that affect work: dress, diet, times of day when one can work and those when a break is required (e.g., for prayer or the customary siesta), behavior toward superiors, etc. An inclusive environment should respect all these parts.
Reframe Leadership Training
The increase of inclusion in the workplace is more than just a recruitment and onboarding issue. What is often overlooked, is that the primary influencer of the inclusive process is the formal “leader” of that activity. Inclusion is both a mindset and a skill set in which the foundation for interaction is collaborative teamwork. The numerous barriers to the inclusive process reside in how leaders are trained to guide competitive nature through a process in which the inclusion of all team voices contribute to organizational outcomes.
Lee Meadows, Consultant, Meadows Consulting
Take a Holistic Approach
One way to help increase inclusion in the workplace is to create a culture where all employees feel safe and supported. This means that you should have a clear policy on how to handle harassment and discrimination, as well as a means of reporting these issues. You need to make sure that employees feel comfortable discussing their needs, from mental health to time off for family emergencies, without fear of reprisal or negative consequences.
It’s also important to ensure that everyone on your team understands how they can help create an inclusive environment and what they should do when someone reports an incident of harassment or discrimination—they should know that it’s not their job alone, but rather something we all need to address together.
Leverage Flexible Work Hours
Allow for flexible working hours. We’ve tried many strategies to explore which methods are working and which are falling short, but it also helped hold us accountable for reaching our long-term goal: increasing the inclusion of our employees. What worked for us, is that we show our employees we trust them by giving them the opportunity and freedom to create their working hours and still remain great assets for the company.
People have all sorts of personal circumstances that can interfere with their ability to work strictly from 9 to 5 (like picking up kids or taking them to school). I understand that the lack of flexibility makes life unnecessarily difficult for some employees, who may respond by quitting and moving to a company that does provide flexibility. So, believe me, this worked way better than we expected. The overall productivity of our team increased by 50% just because we gave the option of flexible working hours.
Start with an Inclusive Onboarding Process
One way to help increase inclusion in the workplace is to make sure that your onboarding process is as inclusive as possible. It’s the most important part of any employee’s first few weeks at a company, and it needs to be tailored to the needs of the person being onboarded. Make sure that your onboarding process is culturally sensitive and inclusive, or ensure that it’s accessible to people with disabilities.
It means making sure that your onboarding materials are translated into different languages if necessary, so that all employees feel welcome from day one. You should do everything you can to ensure they feel included, appreciated, and heard. This also means listening closely to what they say, giving them time to ask questions, and respecting their input on how things should proceed.
Understand and Eliminate Cultural Conditioning Biases
To a huge extent, the circumstances of our upbringing—what we’re told to believe, the movies and music we’re exposed to, the stories we hear from kin and kind, and the passive-aggressive rules set at home by adults—shape the way we think about situations and the people in those situations. We might not be aware, but we, in some ways, are naturally inclined to think of folks from certain ethnic groups or classes of society when faced with a certain situation.
This, when coming to a situation where we have to interact with one another every day to get work done, poses problems as we can’t help but develop a certain kind of bias toward those who come from sects in our mind that we’ve been raised through conditioning to have a colored opinion. Understanding these aspects of ourselves and eliminating such inherent biases can ensure that opinions or suggestions aren’t accepted or rejected based on unknowing biases for the person’s physical or social characteristics while working with a team.
Rahul Radhakrishnan, Content Marketer, Fyle HQ
Recognize and Respect Multiple Religions and Cultures
Establish a policy to respect various cultural and religious customs. The success of diversity initiatives depends on the creation of an inclusive culture, which will increase participation and productivity. To do this, concentrate on special occasions and holidays. I think you might designate a specific refrigerator to house Kosher food items.
While some businesses continue to give employees a day off for Christmas, the majority offer floating holidays to respect everyone’s choice of religion. Again, the business benefits from increased employee retention when workers believe their organization is committed to diversity and inclusion.
Focus on Workplace-Wide Active Listening Practices
To create an inclusive environment in the workplace, start by working on a company culture that focuses on honesty, feedback, and active listening. Stressing the importance of these values, as early as the interview process, will give each employee a good start and a stable foundation to build on during their career in the company. A team leader should organize a weekly meeting with each of his subordinates to get an update on their performance, listen to their feedback, and understand their personality better.
This will foster a healthy work environment and provide a safe space for employees. If you’re not sure how to start, you can organize workshops and social gatherings to encourage each team member to exchange ideas and interests and be more productive in their future tasks as a team.
Set Clear Expectations for Behavior
In today’s workplace, it’s more important than ever to create an environment that is inclusive for all employees. One way to help achieve this is by establishing clear expectations for behavior and language. This means creating policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment and making it clear that everyone is expected to comply with these rules.
Additionally, training can be a valuable tool for increasing inclusion in the workplace. By providing employees with information on how to identify and address bias, you can help create a more inclusive environment. Finally, promoting diversity and inclusion should be a priority for all leaders in the organization. By modeling inclusive behavior and demonstrating a commitment to diversity, you can set the tone for the entire organization.
Want to see how we can make inclusion part of your company’s DNA? Let’s chat.