Ways of Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace Culture
It’s incredibly important for businesses to develop diverse teams across all levels of seniority, however, what’s equally important is ensuring those diverse teams are well supported and that all employees have a voice. Diversity isn’t the same as inclusivity. Hiring managers should be empowered to bring diversity into the business, but the whole workplace should be empowered to communicate and feel heard.
A sense of belonging in the workplace can lead to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days. Because in a culture where employees are respected and appreciated, they’re also more likely to participate and less likely to feel unwanted.
Cultivating an inclusive workplace culture is a long term, iterative process that involves everyone in the organisation. From senior management to the hands-on workforce, ensuring that all employees are educated and supported will help ensure inclusivity is a top priority.
There are a number of ways you can go about this, and it’s recommended that you implement policies to cover as many as possible.
Educate your leaders
While implementing and following inclusive practices is a company-wide endeavour, leaders need to be well educated. Using a top down approach shows team members that leadership truly values inclusivity.
If the wider team can’t see that their leaders are doing the right thing and can’t learn from them, it’s going to be tough to create broader change.
Actively listen and promote participation
Everyone has the right to be heard, whether in meetings or privately, and know that their contributions are appreciated. Discourage people from interrupting others and ensure there are always opportunities for everyone to participate in discussions. Provide meeting agendas ahead of time wherever possible, so those with a language barrier or who are more introverted can come prepared with ideas and conversation starters. Remember to ask for input for anyone who’s joining the meeting virtually as it’s not always easy to slip into conversations in those situations.
Use certain language carefully
Certain terms and phrases have been ingrained in corporate workplace communications that aren’t reflective of how we should interact with each other.
Phrases that are commonplace like ‘ladies and gentlemen’, ‘hey guys’, or ‘girls and boys’, can lead to employees feeling uncomfortable or excluded. We can move beyond gendered phrases like this and use more inclusive language, like ‘welcome everyone’ or ‘hey team’. And issues aren’t restricted to phrases like this either.
Be mindful when using phrases driven by stereotypes or with harmful backgrounds and keep in mind that they’re almost never necessary.
Review anti-discrimination policies
Anti-discrimation policies (and enforcing them) help ensure everyone in the workplace is given fair opportunities. They should outline how your organisation monitors behaviour, receives and responds to complaints, and works to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place.
Your anti-discrimination policy must also align with Australia’s and relevant state’s anti-discrimination laws. Australia itself has several discrimination acts which must be followed by law, along with supporting state-regulated acts.
Cultivating an inclusive workplace culture promotes stronger teams and wellbeing in your employees. It will help you attract and retain talent, increase performance, and, importantly, follow the law.