If you are in a leadership role within a company, prioritizing diversity and inclusion is likely and important strategic goal. Diversity and inclusion are focused on creating a welcoming environment for people with a variety of unique traits, cultural heritages and upbringings.
Diversity and inclusion are important elements in all of society, and they’re also important to include in the workplace. By 2065, it is predicted that there will be no racial or ethnic majorities in the United States. As we move towards this future, it is more important than ever to ensure that people of all backgrounds feel welcome in their professional environments.
There are many ways that employers and employees alike can incorporate diversity and inclusion in the workplace to create a better working experience for everyone.
1. Be mindful of pronouns and gender identity
It is not only important but also a sign of respect to be mindful of each other’s pronouns. Respecting your coworkers’ and employees’ chosen pronouns can go a long way toward making them feel safe and welcome in the workplace.
Some examples of pronouns include:
If you make a mistake with someone’s pronoun, apologize, clarify what the correct pronoun is and use the correct pronoun in the future. Part of promoting inclusion in the workplace is putting forward a concentrated effort to respect other people. If you do not know a person’s pronouns, you can normally refer to someone using a neutral pronoun such as “they” or you can volunteer your own pronouns and ask for clarification on theirs.
2. Clearly communicate your intentions for creating a diverse workplace
Transparency in the workplace can contribute to overall company success. Business transparency is helpful for customers, but it is even more helpful for employees. If your intention is to create a diversified workplace within your company, you should make those intentions known and clearly communicate them to your clients and employees.
Clear communication and transparency are skills that all business professionals should have. Creating an environment of safe communication can help others to open up and can encourage broader discussion.
3. Educate managers and other higher-ups about the role of inclusion in business strategies
It is essential that every employee knows how the company plans on incorporating inclusion in the workplace. To pursue a higher level of inclusion, managers and other higher-ups must be educated about the role of inclusion in the workplace.
Some resources for training managers on inclusion in the workplace include:
- Personal development courses
- Virtual professional development training sessions
- On-site workshops with trained diversity and inclusion professionals
To successfully prioritize diversity and inclusion within your business, those in leadership need to be educated and ready to lead the staff toward a more inclusive future.
4. Ensure and regularly review the employee handbook for up-to-date workplace policies and standards
One important step to prioritizing diversity and inclusion is to update your employee handbook with inclusion-focused workplace policies. The goals of diversity and inclusion policies include:
- Creating a welcoming and harassment-free workplace.
- Outlining the best practices that your company prioritizes.
- Highlighting the responsibilities that every member of the company has in promoting diversity and modeling the correct behaviors to create an inclusive workplace.
By including your company’s diversity and inclusion policies in writing in your employee handbook, you are increasing the transparency and clear communication needed to create a welcoming, inclusive work environment. You will also have written guidelines that leadership can refer to if there are ever inclusion-related issues within your company.
5. Facilitate helpful and honest feedback
One way to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to facilitate helpful and honest feedback. Honest feedback can help promote diversity in the workplace by allowing employees to speak up when they see that there is an inclusion problem in their work environment.
Facilitating honest feedback is especially helpful in acknowledging the existence of microaggressions within the workplace. Microaggressions can take the form of words and actions that target someone because of their identity, and they can often be subtle and easy to ignore if you are not their direct target. Creating a space where employees can give honest feedback reduces the risk of microaggressions and workplace harassment.
6. Host “round robin” meetings
If you are trying to make your work environment more inclusive, one way to do so is to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard. Round-robin meetings are a possible solution if you are worried that some members of your staff or leadership are not being heard.
A round-robin meeting involves everyone in the meeting speaking once before anyone is allowed to speak a second time. This ensures that everyone in the room is able to voice their ideas or concerns without being talked over or ignored.
Including this type of meeting structure in your company helps to promote the inclusion of differing ideas and viewpoints.
7. Promote equal pay
Unequal pay is a problem in the modern workplace. The truth is that different genders and different races, on average, earn different amounts of money. Avoiding this issue within your company is a way that you can do your part to create a more inclusive and equal society.
If you are interested in promoting equal pay, one way to do so is to institute a policy of salary transparency within your company. Salary transparency includes divulging the salary offered for different positions within your company, and including a specific salary range on all of your job postings.
8. Track the company’s diversity initiative over time
It is one thing to institute diversity initiatives and policies within your company. It is another thing entirely to see if those policies and initiatives are actually working.
Tracking your company’s diversity initiatives over time can help show areas where changes need to be made. It can also show small and large victories that your company has seen over time. Some ways of tracking diversity initiatives include:
- Writing down future projections and the plans for achieving them.
- Keeping a record of issues surrounding gender and racial equality and pay disparities.
- Encouraging employees to provide feedback on a yearly basis.
By keeping track of your company’s progress, you can make the most of the time and energy being put forward to create a more inclusive workplace.
9. Understand and address unconscious bias
A person has an unconscious bias if they are prejudiced toward specific groups of people or individuals, and they are not consciously aware of this prejudice. This type of bias can be particularly insidious within a workplace because it is not obvious at first.
In order to prevent unconscious bias on your part, you have to acknowledge that unconscious bias exists, be honest with yourself and educate yourself.
Promoting cultural education and diversity training within your workplace can help to diminish the effect of unconscious bias.
Diversity and inclusion are vital to the success of any company. And as with any large initiative, the best place to start is by taking one step. Choosing any one of the methods listed above can start you on the path of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.