Creating an inclusive work environment should be at the top of every business leader’s list of priorities. From the #MeToo movement to the corporate scandals in the news, we are constantly reminded of the need to be respectful and inclusive in our interactions. Part of any people strategy is an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
A diverse workplace is one in which a variety of people from different backgrounds work. An inclusive workplace is one in which various policies and behaviors recognize and celebrate those differences, with everyone having the same access to opportunities. Are you taking the steps necessary to create both in your workplace?
Knowing how to create a space where all of your employees feel welcomed and included is one aspect of being a strong business leader. Here are a few ways to build a more inclusive workplace.
Start a Conversation Around Inclusion
Create a solid communication strategy by making sure that everyone — especially those in leadership — is aware of the company’s diversity and inclusion goals. Next, make sure that everyone feels welcome to share their insights, observations, and perspectives. These conversations are not easy and can often result in differences in opinion. Being able to have constructive conversations about difficult topics is part of developing your team’s leadership capabilities.
Ask Questions & Listen Closely
Employees need to know that they’re being heard, and that their concerns will be addressed. Invite team members to share their feelings about the work environment and culture on a regular basis. Consider having a monthly roundtable where employees can give their input on what is going well and what is not.
Celebrate Success and Share Responsibilities
Making sure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate is crucial to building an inclusive workplace. Each employee wants to know that their contributions matter to the company.
Show that you value your team members for the work they do by recognizing their successes in group meetings. If you know someone has done a fantastic job recently, say so! If you know an employee excels at certain types of tasks, tell them you believe they’re the perfect person to take on a certain task.
And when there are opportunities to lead new projects, be sure to review who has had opportunities to do so in the past versus who has not. Those who have not may need to be encouraged to demonstrate they can take on more challenging work. Be sure that everyone has an opportunity to grow and develop their skills. It provides them with meaningful ways of contributing and allows you to grow your team’s capabilities. It also proves your commitment to inclusion.
Creating a work environment that is focused on building trust, demonstrating respect, and that allows everyone to show up as their authentic self is unusual. Ask if your organization is fair to all employees. Ask if supervisors create a trusting and open environment. Ask if workers are confident leaders will do the right thing if discrimination concerns are raised.
Perceived bias in hiring, assigning work, evaluating compensation, determining who has high potential, assessing performance, and making promotions can instantly erase an employee's belief that the company is genuinely committed to diversity. And that goes for all workers, whether in the minority or not.
And it can take years to reestablish credibility with your employees once their trust in you and others in leadership is broken.
Talk with an HR Consultant
I’m Denise Liebetrau, a Human Resources Consultant with over 20 years of experience in HR. I started Prosper Consulting to help growing businesses, executives, and HR teams design great pay programs and keep talented employees focused on the right business results. Schedule a free strategy call with me today!