The word “inclusion” has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Varying interpretations and a general lack of clarity have left employers scrambling to provide their workers with “benefits”, which often merely pays lip service to the term.
Inclusion goes far beyond gender, too. It is about celebrating many cultures, traditions, beliefs, languages and lifestyles. It’s also about going above and beyond to support the entire team, to accommodate their difficulties, to include them in the decision-making process and to be concerned about their overall welfare.
For brands that get it right, the potential rewards are huge. There’s a growing body of evidence to show that inclusive organisations are more innovative, profitable and productive than their competitors.
Building a truly inclusive organisation takes time and effort. Here are some things you can do in your quest to being a more diverse and inclusive company:
- Address your biases during the recruitment process
Cultivating an inclusive workplace begins with recruitment. In order to cast a wider net and reach a larger pool of candidates, you must consciously check every step of the future recruitment process, beginning with the way you word the job opening to the actual interview itself. Consider using AI-based recruiting games to guarantee complete impartiality. Do your best to accommodate candidates who may have difficulties appearing in-person for an interview by arranging a Skype call or a written interview. Make sure your office caters to candidates who rely on mobility devices. Going the extra mile for prospective employees increases their commitment and confidence in your company.
- A culture of openness
Getting your employees involved in the company’s long-term plans and developments will not only educate them, but also make them feel as though they have a stake in the company’s future. You can do this by holding regular meetings or round-table discussions, where every employee is asked for their views on company plans and ambition. Encourage two-way conversations, and be welcome to dissenting statements, if any. Grant them access to effective feedback channels. Do not beat around the bush when sharing the truth about the company’s situation, as this might cause employees to distrust you.
- Safe spaces
Make sure everyone, irrespective of race, gender, religion and sexuality feel included. Simply put, a safe space is nothing more than a place for marginalised groups to gather and share their experiences. In the context of a modern workplace, a safe space can be as simple as a room for employees to unwind after work, or as complex as having professional staff on-call to deal with emotional or mental distress. To increase employee retention and productivity, you must pledge to ensure the emotional and psychological well-being of your employees.
- Have a zero tolerance policy
With allegations of sexual harassment and abuse committed by top officials of major companies being propelled to the spotlight, it is time to consider if your own company’s policies foster an environment for similar abhorrent behaviour to be tolerated. Make sure your employees have a listening ear. Implement mechanisms for them to voice their grievances and complaints, and make sure to take timely action where necessary. Your employees should be able to report unpleasant situations such as harassment, abuse and illegal activities without fearing adverse consequences.
- Support your employees
If you are working with people from diverse backgrounds and different circumstances, such as new mothers, part-time students or mature employees, implement flexible policies that allow them to make the most of their schedule. Provide them with opportunities to upgrade their skills, such as masterclasses or specialised training programs. Offer flexi-hours and work from home options if they have to take care of young children or ailing family members.
Building a truly inclusive workplace requires effort, dedication and patience. Think of it as a long-term investment in terms of attracting quality talent and greater productivity.