6 ideas for building an inclusive work environment

6 ideas for building an inclusive work environment

Building an inclusive environment in the workplace can seem like a monumental task and requires continued dedication, but being an organization that cares for its employees can have some extraordinary benefits, including decreased turnover, improved job satisfaction, enhanced creativity, and an overall healthier workforce.

Here are some areas to focus on when you’re reflecting on your company’s culture, as well as areas to consider building upon when working to move inclusion forward.

Benefits & Compensation

1. Make benefits accessible to all
Make sure your benefits reflect your desire to have an inclusive culture—one that encourages employees to bring their authentic selves to work. This can include items such as:

  • Parental leave for both parents, regardless of the child being born or adopted.
  • Protections for employees who are members of minoritized identities (The C.R.O.W.N. Act to end hair discrimination, for example).
  • Floating Holidays to use for holidays/celebrations not recognized as national holidays or covered by Paid Holiday time.
  • Access to gender-affirming care through health insurance.

Providing relevant and accessible benefits to employees can let them know their well-being is a main focus within the organization. This can also include encouraging individuals to use those benefits, such as vacation and sick time, when needed.

Conducting a workforce survey can serve as an initial step in enhancing your existing benefits program and ensuring employees’ needs are being met while allowing open feedback.

2. Address compensation gaps
The gender pay-gap exists in varying ways for those with diverse and intersecting identities. For instance, data shows that white women are paid less than that of white men. Women of color, specifically women who identify as Latine or Hispanic, often receive roughly 56 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes.
Ensuring that your organization uses unbiased pay structures and evaluations along with reviewing current employee compensation to correct inequities is a good place to begin making meaningful change.

Professional Development

3. Equip leadership with skills to effectively lead diverse teams
Studies have shown that leadership qualities can have a significant influence on the perception of culture and how inclusive a workplace is. Traditionally, leadership training has focused on driving productivity and achieving targets; however, a shift towards training leaders to focus on team development and inclusivity is essential.
When people are trained to lead a team versus leading productivity, they are trained on how to build teams and develop skills such as empathy, active listening and creating an inclusive space for their staff. Inclusive leadership not only enhances employee engagement and satisfaction, but also drives innovation and creativity by harnessing the collective strengths of a diverse workforce. By equipping leaders with these essential skills, you can cultivate an environment where every individual feels valued and respected.

4. Implement regular trainings
Administer trainings for employees to learn about unconscious bias and how to interrupt the ways which that bias shows up in the workplace. Unconscious bias training has become a hot topic within HR departments, and many companies and organizations have implemented yearly trainings regarding cultural humility.
Providing employees with access to meaningful experiences and training to learn about unconscious bias and cultural humility, without it being centered around a yearly must-do training, can improve reception.

Employees & Culture

5) Be open to feedback
Receiving feedback about company culture can be uncomfortable, but it is impossible to heal and grow without first identifying the harmful or negative aspects about a company’s culture. Space should be given to receive feedback through mediums such as town halls, surveys and interviews.

6) Organize affinity groups
Set-up a structure for affinity groups to allow employees to build community with those of similar backgrounds. Identify the purpose of your affinity groups, whether they are spaces to advocate for communities they represent or are simply a place for community-building amongst members of the designated group. Some affinity groups allow non-community members to join, while others desire a space that is meant to be safe for a specific group.

Inclusive organizations are those that make intentional efforts in supporting the growth and well-being of their employees through a variety of means. The steps listed above can be a great place to start your organization’s journey toward creating a more inclusive work environment.

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