How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace

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When you run your own business, you want to create a work environment that attracts the very best talent – and that means creating an inclusive workplace. Not sure where to start? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to be inclusive in the workplace.

What is an inclusive workplace

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the professional body for the HR and learning and development professions in the UK. They give an inclusive workplace meaning that states: “An inclusive workplace culture allows all people to thrive at work, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance.”

An inclusive workplace, then, is one where everyone is welcome and is able to thrive, no matter their background, circumstances, or identity.

Is inclusion the same as diversity?

Not quite. Although inclusion and diversity often go hand in hand, they’re not strictly the same thing.

Diversity relates to our demographic differences, which can include a range of different things like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Neurodivergence
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

A diverse workforce is made up of all different people from different demographic groups, as well as levels of experience. An inclusive workplace makes all of these people feel welcome and supported in their roles.

The other piece of the puzzle is equality. That means equal rights and opportunities are given to everyone, protected by law in the 2010 Equality Act. As an employer, you may be familiar with Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I), which refers to the building of a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace.

There’s no point in having a diverse workforce if it’s just a box-ticking exercise. We need to foster an inclusive workplace in order to make our diverse workforce feel like part of a work culture that values them.

Who benefits from a diverse, inclusive workplace?

If you don’t have an inclusive workplace, you’re hurting both your employees and your business.

A recent McKinsey report found that businesses in the top quartile for gender-diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability when compared to companies in the fourth quartile. That figure, measured in 2019, is up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014.

McKinsey also found that, in 2019, companies in the top quarter for ethnic and cultural diversity were more profitable than those in the fourth quartile by 36%. This was up from 33% in 2017 and 35% in 2014.

It’s clear then that failing to create an inclusive workplace can impact your bottom line. And it can also have an effect on how well your employees perform at work. 

Lack of commitment and engagement

Research by the LGBT not-for-profit OUTstanding found that 85% of LGBT senior executives thought that LGBT professionals who weren’t out at work wasted energy pretending to be someone they’re not, and 61% believed it meant they were less committed to their employer. In addition, 86% thought that it caused them to feel isolated from their colleagues.

Employees who don’t feel included are also less likely to be engaged with their work. McKinsey found that those who feel very included are far more likely to feel fully engaged than those who don’t feel included. In their study, they reported that of employees who felt very included, nearly three quarters were also entirely engaged.On the other hand, those who did not feel very included, just one quarter felt completely engaged with their place of work.

So, if you don’t create an inclusive atmosphere, you run the risk of employees not performing at their best or – worse – leaving for a company that does value its employees, no matter their background.

Not only that, but you may struggle to hire new employees, too. The McKinsey study found that 39% of all employees have turned down a job or decided not to pursue a role with a particular company because they felt the organisation wasn’t inclusive.

Without a demonstrably inclusive workplace, you may find your business in a tricky place, with serious damage caused to your reputation.

How to create a diverse and inclusive workplace

A study by Accenture found that while 98% of leaders believe that their company is inclusive, only 80% of employees report feeling included at work. If you’ve never considered your DE&I policy before, then you may well be one of those leaders.

Don’t worry, though, as we’ve got a few key ways in which you can start to think about creating more inclusive workplace practices and ensure all your staff feel welcome where they work.

Value differences at work

To create a truly inclusive workplace, you must be able to create an atmosphere where staff are able to perform at their best. This will vary from person to person. Perhaps your office isn’t accessible for someone in a wheelchair, in which case you might need to look for accessible office space or offer hybrid working as an option. Or maybe your open plan office doesn’t work for a neurodiverse employee – so you could find out whether they might thrive instead in a private office, or find office space that offers a mixture of private offices and breakout zones so your team can work in the way that suits them best.

Ensure leaders understand what inclusion is

It’s essential that everyone in a senior role, including people managers, understand what is meant by inclusion. You could set up training for your managers, with regular touchpoints to ensure those core inclusion policies are kept.

Benchmark where your business is 

It’s important to understand how your employees perceive your company – not only to see what needs to change but so that you have data to reflect upon in the future. You could send out surveys to staff to find out how they feel about inclusion in the workplace, or hold one-to-one meetings with managers. Either way, you must ensure that your team has a safe place to voice their concerns – not only at the benchmarking stage but also in the future.

Listen to your employees

Above all, this is the key to creating an inclusive workplace. Remember that it won’t be a linear process, and there will be some ups and downs along the way, but when employees feel listened to and valued at work, you’re halfway to creating an inclusive culture. 

And as well as listening to your teams, you need to ensure you’re always transparent with them. From communicating your policies around inclusion to explaining any changes you make to how the business works, treat your employees as part of the team and show them that their insights and opinions matter.
And if you need a meeting room to get all of your team together to draft up your inclusion policy? Easy Offices is here to help. We offer day offices to rent, enabling you to maximise productivity and improve communication, while keeping the costs of office rental low.

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