In terms of being inclusive and welcoming to people of all ages, genders, races, sizes, sexual orientations, and neuro-diversities, we may feel like we have come a long way as a nation and as a society, but the truth is that there is still so much work to be done. A report by the organization Human Rights Watch found the following realities:
- The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been disproportionately negative towards people of color. Since there has been a longstanding disparity in education, health, and economic status due to overtly unequal policies, those effects were, unsurprisingly, aggravated by the deadly pandemic.
- One in five school-aged children in the United State did not have access to reliable, high-speed internet at home, as well as a working device or computer. It further widened the gap between low-income students and the middle and upper class, and remote learning negatively impacted children with disabilities as well.
These are just two examples of how the COVID-19 crisis set us back after all the significant progress we’ve made in the past few years. If you are a manager at work or someone with a significant influence in the workplace, you can explore many strategies that can help make the workplace a safer space for everyone. Moreover, ensuring that you push back against any form of discrimination in the workplace is not just the right thing to do in the eyes of the law; it is also the moral and ethical path to take, and you will help in improving the general well-being and mental health of everybody in your company.
Creating an inclusive workplace culture takes a lot of work, but the goal is always worth it. Here are some tips for ensuring that everyone in your company feels safe and welcome.
Make education a priority
In the same way that discrimination is learned, it can also be unlearned. If you truly want to make your workplace a safe place for everyone to work and thrive, consider hiring experts from different fields to speak to your entire team about what discrimination is, why it’s not something we should tolerate, and how to eradicate it completely. Consider hiring anti-racism educators, disability advocates or lawyers, gender equality training professionals, and other experts and educators to talk to your team and provide them with the necessary tools and resources.
Begin with your leaders and human resources team, and let it trickle down to everyone else in the company. Creating an inclusive culture is all about modeling what it looks like to everyone in your company, and teaching this behavior to your employees should start at the top.
Form an inclusion team or council
Having a team that’s dedicated to one endeavor sends the message that you are taking this mission seriously. Moreover, having a team of eight to twelve leaders with considerable influence can help ensure that there is a group of people who are committed to rolling up their sleeves and do the hard work of advocating for inclusiveness, especially in times when they have to dialogue with the company’s top executives. This team can be in charge of the following:
- Setting the goals for hiring
- Establishing and maintaining a diverse workforce
- Effectively addressing whatever issues or conflicts may arise among employees
- Advocating for the employees when it comes to talking to higher-ups
When it comes to establishing this council, make sure that it is as diverse as possible, with council members representing not only different genders and ethnicity but also geographic locations and business functions.
Celebrate and empower differences
One of the best ways to advance inclusion in the workplace is by telling your employees that you respect and celebrate their traditions and backgrounds, and to let them know that their histories are welcome in the workplace. Here are some examples of making this work:
- Set up an inclusive prayer room, devoid of any religious imagery.
- Enhanced or more accessible HR presence for employees who may be more isolated. This might mean setting up a room where employees can have private conversations should any of them come across relational issues as they work.
Listen and learn
And last but not least, managers need to listen to their employees. To come up with a culture that focuses on inclusivity and equality among everybody, listening to your team members is important. This may come in the form of a town hall or end-of-year meetings where everyone can speak up and be heard.
Creating an inclusive workplace culture is good for everybody’s morale, productivity, job satisfaction, social life, and mental wellness. There may be hurdles along the way but focus on the mission and the benefits it may yield if you succeed.