by Charlotte Gurney
Inclusivity means belonging, feeling part of something and that you have the ability to contribute and be heard. We all function better in a workplace that is inclusive - and these tend to be the spaces where productivity is higher and there is more potential for creativity, collaboration and innovation. These are just some of the steps that you can take to foster a more inclusive workplace.
Ensure transparency. This is about people being honest about who they are, admitting when a mistake has been made and being clear about roles, responsibilities, benefits and pay. It applies at all levels of the organization, from C-suite to entry-level roles.
Encourage allyship. Allies are members of a social group that enjoys privilege who are focused on understanding that privilege and helping to end oppression. Being an ally could be something as simple as saying “we don’t use that word here” in response to a racist or sexist term.
Switch to a more inclusive vocabulary. Many of the words we have become used to using exclude people of a certain race or gender (e.g. “guys”) and other terms might be offensive to someone who is affected by them (e.g. “that’s so ghetto”). Part of creating a more inclusive workplace is encouraging inclusive language, such as switching “guys” for “team” and steering people away from potentially offensive terms.
Create a focus on diverse networking. Networking is a vital part of the business but can reinforce hierarchies and prejudices. More inclusive networking means encouraging more diversity in work connections, whether that’s women, people of color, those with disabilities or someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Be open to feedback. Those who are affected by existing issues in the workplace aren’t always the ones with the opportunity to implement change. That’s why it’s so important for feedback to be a clear and consistent part of the process. Ask people how they feel about inclusivity in the workplace and how the business could do better - and listen if someone raises an issue.
But remember that the emphasis is on you. It’s not about making the work of inclusivity a burden for those who are affected - take the initiative and learn what you can without making change their problem.
Make sure marginalized voices are being heard. Who dominates in meetings and who is most often being interrupted? Who gets the credit and who tends to be pushed to the sidelines? Be aware of the diversity problems that already exist within the office environment.
Don’t avoid discomfort. For anyone who belongs to a privileged social group, the process of making the workplace more inclusive might feel uncomfortable. However, having the hard conversations and implementing changes is much more constructive than simply ignoring the problems that many people face.
Diverse and inclusive organizations thrive - and are where the most talented people want to be today. These are just some of the ways in which you can improve inclusivity in your workplace.
Volt International are committed to fostering an inclusive workplace. To learn more about how Volt International can help your organization visit our Services and Solutions page.