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What Does It Mean to Have a Truly Inclusive Workplace?

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Employee Harassment Training Workshop (17-slide PowerPoint presentation). According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Harassment is a form of discrimination that violates many different laws, for example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of [read more]

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Inclusivity—the adoption of policies and procedures to make everyone in a team feel comfortable, accepted and valued—is a key component of success in business, as reported by the US Chamber of Commerce. Inclusive and diverse companies regularly outperform their competition, as found in McKenzie research. They are also more likely to capture new markets, earn higher revenue, and enjoy a good brand reputation. They are, additionally, 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market and 1.8 times more likely to be ready for change. Whether you are just starting in business or you wish to boost inclusivity and diversity in your business, make sure the following policies are in place.

Engaging the Interest, Efforts, and Initiatives of Committed Leaders

Your company’s managers and top-level executives have a big say when it comes to inclusivity. They can decide on major policies that can “make or break” the experience of working in an office. Leaders should undergo training on topics such as necessary accommodations for disabled workers, gender inequity, race, and the unconscious bias that can unconsciously affect one’s decisions and policies. Through training, leaders can learn how to actively listen to employees’ diverse opinions. They can also model optimal behavior, hire a diverse team, and use inclusive language. Meetings and resources should be dedicated to diversity so that employees feel that both inclusivity and diversity are more than ‘token’ values. These meetings should have a set agenda and offer employees the time to voice their concerns. Employees should also feel free to address issues in written form after the meeting as a follow-up.

Making Efforts to Guarantee Independence, Integration, and Equal Opportunities

All your employees should be able to carry out their tasks and meet their goals independently and on an equal footing as their colleagues. This can mean having to make specific accommodations for employees—for instance, those with physical disabilities. An employee with a condition like cerebral palsy (CP), for instance, may have mobility issues and require the use of a wheelchair. Your office should contain a layout and design that enable wheelchair users to move through the office comfortably, get close to colleagues’ desks, and access common spaces. Sometimes, required accommodations are not physical. For instance, a person with CP, fibromyalgia, or a weakened immune system function may benefit from a flexible work schedule, assistive equipment, or more frequent breaks.

Relying on Diversity Software

Cutting-edge software that focuses on diversity and inclusion will help you assess the success of your diversity and inclusion efforts in quantifiable numbers. Tools like DBSquared, Diversio, Applied, and Blendoor each have specific features that can support your inclusivity strategy. Some, such as Diversio, use algorithms to uncover hidden biases and enable managers to quantify experiences. They inform users of employee sentiment and obstacles faced by specific teams and compare your company’s track record to those of your competitors. There is little point in making large-scale policy changes if you cannot rely on quantifiable data to measure your success. Therefore, see investment in top quality software as a key investment in your inclusivity and diversity policy.

Publishing Your Progress

Companies that are truly committed to inclusivity measure and publish their progress as a sign of commitment. Start out by conducting a full audit of your human resources processes (including hiring, employee loyalty benefits, efforts to reduce turnover, and more). Conduct surveys to identify shortcomings that your audit fails to find. Draft a detailed report that includes key problems you have found and that stipulates how you plan on addressing each of them. Set your inclusivity goals clearly and explain why you value them. Show how you plan on measuring inclusivity and predict how a more inclusive model will impact your business and brand.

Inclusivity and diversity can help your business enjoy greater success, improve your brand reputation, and, above all, help your employees feel comfortable, safe, and valued. To ensure your company is inclusive, get your leaders on board and carry out an audit to discover problems that need addressing. Employ the very best software tools available to help you quantify problems and successes and provide information on the specific measures you will be taking to address existing issues.

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Typically, the gender being discriminated against, has had to work two to three times harder to prove themselves. While they are often more competent, this works against them because they "threaten" the other sex's ego, compounding the conflicts associated with gender discrimination. If [read more]

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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