Cultivating inclusion in the workplace means that everyone at your company and office feels welcome, heard, acknowledged, and represented in leadership. Diversity is a major priority, for small businesses and large corporations alike, it is important that everyone coming from unique backgrounds feels that they are loved for their uniqueness can speak up on new ideas and their ideas are equally important and considered. From a business outlook - inclusion can build collaborations, increase employee retention, and generate innovation. From a human outlook - inclusion can bring out the best of each employee, cultivate a welcoming environment, and a place that celebrates differences.
Here are some tips to cultivating an inclusive workplace:
1. Educate. The first step before implementing the change or new practices is to educate yourself and your team so that you make the right decisions during implementation. It’s important to know the purpose of inclusion. Education should be a routine practice, not just a one-time event. It is important to understand what diversity and inclusion mean, the benefits, what you should know, and what you can do about it at your company.
2. Start with leadership. Hopefully, if you’re reading this article you are the business owner or manager because the leaders and managers of a company - big or small - will set the tone for the entire team. Inclusion should be a core value for the company. It is your responsibility, as a leader, to have the training, honest conversations, accountability, and celebrations around the topic of inclusion so that everyone knows that inclusion is the expectation. If you aren’t the business owner or manager then take the initiative to start a conversation and hold your leadership team to making progress. Also, notice I said to start with leadership, not stop with leadership. There should be actionable steps and initiatives at all levels of the organization to ensure that this value is echoed and understood throughout the company.
3. Inclusion is ongoing. The definition of inclusion and what a company can do is always evolving. Be open-minded and know that there is always room for improvement. Perfection shouldn’t stop you from taking steps in the right direction. Inclusion is something that should be practiced every day - at every meeting, every event, and every conference call. Remember to always be mindful and purposeful about what you do. There is no such thing as being “too inclusive," go above and beyond to ensure that no one feels unsupported or misunderstood.
4. Spread the message through your brand. Your brand messaging should incorporate the same values that your company does. Be sure to get your community involved and spread the word. It doesn’t have to solely be educational too, have sponsored programs, special products that cater to different needs, events to celebrate, resources that you can offer, etc.
5. Make it meaningful. Inclusion isn’t just a checkbox that you mark off. It’s about people, which makes it more important than ever. We wouldn’t have a business without the people - whether they are the members of our team or the customers within your community. Make a point to go beyond the training, programs, and initiatives to actually make a transformation in your culture and an impact on your community. Think about your business and its strengths and how it can play a part in the bigger picture of inclusion and make sure to take action on it!
Comment below and share how you are cultivating an inclusive workplace at your company!