An inclusive workplace goes beyond merely having employees of various backgrounds (i.e. visible minorities, women, LGBT, people with disabilities etc.) represented in your workplace. An inclusive workplace is one that creates and sustains a culture that is accepting of individual differences. It is a workplace that recognizes the value of individual differences and differences of thought. It is a workplace that respects, understands and utilizes those differences. That is where the true competitive advantage of diversity is realized.
Moving your organization towards inclusion is a multifaceted process and won’t happen overnight, but here are 10 things you can start doing today to make your workplace more inclusive:
1. Incorporate diversity and inclusion into the strategic goals of your organization.
Organizations that incorporate diversity and inclusion into their strategic goals often see an increase in their standing and reputation in comparison to their competitors.
2. Do not ignore conflict in the workplace.
When a conflict arises in the workplace take the time to understand the root of the conflict and address that root cause. Many times conflict arises from a misunderstanding of our differences. Issues like harassment, discrimination and bullying fester when differences are not understood.
3. Communicate regularly to your staff about the benefits of an inclusive workplace; enhances productivity, improves communication, boosts problem solving and fosters retention.
You want your staff to buy-into inclusion. They need to understand why inclusion is good for them.
4. Conduct exit interviews and ask departing employees about their perception of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The best way to find out what your problems are is to have someone who has firsthand experience tell you. Make sure you ask questions about diversity and inclusivity at exit interviews.
5. Provide accommodations (for religious observance, family status and pregnancy needs etc.)
Not only is this a legal requirement but providing accommodations creates a culture of respect and inclusion.
6. When organizing meetings, corporate events, lunches and dinners be aware of the different needs and restrictions of your diverse staff.
Be aware of dietary restrictions/needs, religious observances, physical restrictions, and child care and elder care needs of employees.
7. Examine how you communicate: Are coworkers demonstrating RESPECT for each other? Are they listening, perceiving and understanding?
Is your staff aware of appropriate communication standards in the workplace? Have they been made aware of your organizations expectations for respectful communication? Is management setting the example?
8. Examine how you communicate: Be aware of Canadian “slang”.
Those new to Canada may not understand our use of the English language as we tend to speak in “slang”. Examples of “slang” include:
- Give me a ring
- Cross your t’s and dot your i’s
- Play it by ear
- Make a pass (sexual)
- Brownie points
Be aware of your use of slang and create a safe environment for those who don’t understand it to ask for clarification and be answered without ridicule.
9. Have discussions about the prevalence of stereotypes and barriers in the workplace.
Set up a working group(s) to examine and discuss the prevalence of stereotypes and barriers in the workplace. You’ll be surprised about how much you can learn from staff about what is going on and in many cases staff provide great insight into how barriers can be removed.
10. Serve as example and set the standard.
Start with yourself. Reflect on what you can be doing in your day to day interactions to make them more inclusive. Once you look at your role, moving forward becomes easier.
For more information on diversity and inclusion, please contact Sandeep Tatla at 905-306-8448 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tatlagroup.com
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