Workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse these days, where people belonging to different generations, cultures, and ethnicities are together trying to achieve common goals. A Inclusive workplace is beneficial for innovation and inclusion initiatives play a very important role in helping the organizations reap the benefits of workplace diversity. With Millennials and Gen Z increasingly taking up leadership roles, other generations of workers often run the risk of left behind. Also, difference of opinions among people hailing from different cultures needs to be addressed carefully. Inclusion is all about knowing and understanding the perspectives of different employees and creating meaningful solutions directed towards company objectives. Inclusive leaders make all of their employees feel that their perspectives are being valued, so that the organization can be benefitted from their insights. In the absence of inclusion initiatives, employees would eventually leave the organization or would start contributing less.
Let’s have a look at the 7 steps of building an inclusive workplace:
- Analyze the Needs of Your Organization
The first step towards inclusion is analyzing the needs of your organization. Workplace diversity may look tempting but without proper inclusion initiatives, your commitment to diversity wouldn’t get you the desired results. At the very beginning you need to understand the unique needs of your organization based on your workforce and organizational structure. You can conduct anonymous surveys to understand the thoughts and perspectives of your employees. As a leader, you also need to have honest discussions about their behaviors and actions. This helps in creating your inclusion goals.
2. Develop Inclusion Programs
Once you have identified your inclusion goals, develop a suitable program to achieve them. However, there are numerous ways of achieving inclusion but you must focus on those that suit your organization and are attainable and measurable. If your goal isn’t achievable, your employees may feel that the management is not keen about making meaningful changes. Therefore, develop plans which you can measure and achieve, and assign leaders to implement them strategically.
3. Communicate Clearly
A good inclusion program includes clear communications with employees. Listening is one of the most important ingredients of effective communication which leads to an inclusive workplace. Listen to and understand the perspectives of your diverse workforce. ‘Listen and learn’, ‘round table discussions’ and other events can be held and employees should be encouraged to put forward their thoughts on inclusion. Leaders must be open-minded to understand their thoughts instead of adopting a defensive attitude about the organization’s policies. The more knowledge the leaders can gain, the more they can make their inclusion program successful.
4. Signify Accountability
For building an inclusive workplace, every employee needs to share the responsibility of making the inclusion program successful. Department leaders can take the lead to begin the initiatives and overseeing the development. However, they also need to set examples for employees. For this, organizations must train their leaders well for implementing the plans. Gradually the employees need to be included in the plan and should be assigned the responsibility to make the inclusion program successful. The organization must train every employee to be inclusive.
5. Address Bad Behaviors
Even after training the employees, there will be a few employees who wouldn’t comply. Although you cannot completely prevent bad behavior through your inclusion plan, you can address those behaviors. State in your policies the procedures that will be taken in case of bad behaviors. Clearly mention the consequences if an employee exhibits inappropriate behavior. However, in such cases, the management should also focus on retraining the employees. Make your policies fair and transparent for an inclusive workplace.
6. Review Your Policies
Review your existing policies for any hidden bias. An inclusive workplace is the one where all employees feel welcomed, supported and respected irrespective of their gender, background or sexual orientation. Your organization may have a policy that unintentionally hurts a section of your employees. It’s your responsibility to review all organizational policies carefully and eliminate any bias, if present. Both written as well as unwritten policies should be analyzed well and if required changed to build an inclusive workplace.
7. Review and Update the Inclusion Program
After implementing the inclusion program, it’s important to constantly review the program and determine if changes are required. Leaders are required to conduct period reviews and update the program elements as and when required.
Inclusion also strengthens an organizations’ brand and helps in attracting talents. For any organization, it’s important to focus on the employee-employer relationship, which can be positively impacted through inclusion initiatives.