It’s a no-brainer that diversity makes for a stronger, more creative, and more innovative workforce. But once a company has built a diverse team, the work doesn’t end here; there’s a lot more that needs to be done.
Inclusivity is the next step to support a diverse workforce. It’s key to ensuring that every employee feels welcomed, accepted, and valued at work.
Although lots of progress has been made to create more inclusive workplaces, there’s still room for improvement. A survey conducted by EdTech platform Learnlight found that one in four (25%) UK employees aren’t certain that their workplace is inclusive, with 18% saying it definitely isn’t and 7% being unsure.
Here, we break down what it means to have an inclusive workplace, who benefits from a diverse, inclusive workplace, and our advice on creating an accepting work environment.
What’s the meaning of an inclusive workplace?
Workplace inclusion is when people feel valued, recognised, and able to be their true selves at a company. Regardless of background, circumstances, or viewpoints, an inclusive workplace allows all employees to thrive.
In order to build an inclusive workplace culture, you need commitment from everyone – from your founder(s), C-suite, and team leaders, to the whole of the wider team.
What are the benefits of an inclusive workplace?
An inclusive work environment establishes a sense of belonging and value among employees. When people feel more valued, they are more engaged, they work better, are more creative, and crucially, are far more likely to stay at your company.
In fact, according to a Deloitte study, 80% of people say inclusion is important when choosing an employer, and 39% said they would leave their current organisation for a more inclusive one.
If you’re ready to start your inclusivity initiatives, read some of our strategies for creating an inclusive workplace. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are just some ideas; think about what’s going to be most impactful for you and your team.
5 strategies for creating an inclusive workplace
1. Get buy-in from everyone
A truly inclusive workplace needs buy-in from everyone in your team – starting from the top. Creating and encouraging a sense of belonging has to begin at leadership level, and it will be much easier to prioritise inclusivity if your most senior team members have it at the top of their priority list, too.
Once leadership are all on board, they’ll be the best resources to get the ball rolling!
2. Give every employee a voice
A universal approach to inclusivity doesn’t work – you need to involve and empower employees from different backgrounds, especially if your leadership and people teams aren’t very diverse. Get as many additional perspectives as possible from the wider team. These differences of opinion will be your most helpful resource to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees to thrive. If you don’t involve the wider team, you risk undermining the whole point of your inclusivity initiatives.
Why not try building a team to work on diversity & inclusion initiatives? At Work.Life, we have a dedicated ‘Culture Club’, made up of team members from all departments and levels, who give up their time to work on maintaining and improving our company culture; covering topics such as wellbeing, events, giving back, and D&I.
3. Integrate inclusivity into your company values
If you’re serious about building an inclusive workplace, and inclusivity isn’t already one of your core values, it should be! Having this as part of your values will make it clear to everyone – including current and perspective employees, potential new business, and your board – that you are a fully inclusive employer.
It’ll also ensure your team know that it’s a priority for the business.
4. Create safe spaces
Inclusivity is about making sure every employee feels accepted – and there may be physical changes you want to make to your workplace as a result, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, private rooms for new mothers, and prayer spaces (something we’re looking at introducing at Work.Life spaces). Outside of the physical workspace, encouraging employees to add their pronouns to their email signatures, or making sure that events are inclusive to all team members, are just a couple of ideas to create safe spaces.
Again, giving your team a voice is invaluable. At Work.Life, we run regular feedback surveys pre-and-post team socials, to ensure they’re always inclusive. If you’re not listening to your team, you won’t be investing your time and resource in the right areas.
5. Celebrate your employee’s differences
Understanding and celebrating employee’s differences is key to creating a truly inclusive workplace. Some ideas for celebrating diversity include:
- Creating a shared calendar where employees can add traditions or holidays relevant to them
- Celebrating religious holidays or commemorative months such as Pride or Black History Month across the whole team
- Starting conversations to help employees understand each other’s differences and bring the team closer together
- Ensuring introverts feel comfortable, with initiatives like providing written, or anonymous feedback, instead of verbal
- Giving your team the option to take religious holidays off. In addition to Christmas, recognise all the other religious holidays that may represent the beliefs of members of your team, such as Rosh Hashanah, Eid, Diwali and Ramadan. Can you allow employees to exchange a bank holiday for one of these religious holidays?
Building an inclusive workplace is all about ensuring that your team are comfortable being their whole selves at work, and able to thrive as a result.
Building inclusive workplaces is what we’re all about at Work.Life – we’re proud to have built a positive, accepting environment for not just our team, but our wider community of 6,000+ members too.