Creating an Inclusive Workplace
Inclusivity, defined as “the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc.,” has become front and center for businesses across the globe. In a McKinsey study, we learned that corporations that are more diverse and inclusive “are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Additionally, diverse teams have 12 percent better employee performance than those that do not focus on inclusivity. With more and more prospective employees now saying that diversity and inclusion are key factors in choosing a company to work for, it’s high time that businesses focus more efforts on these important areas. Here’s what you can do.
Language Speaks Volumes
Inclusive language is key to creating a workplace environment in which everyone feels accepted and safe. According to Hubspot, “Inclusive language is the words and phrases you use that avoid biases, slang, and expressions that discriminate against groups of people based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, and ability.” Consider the use of the word “guys” when addressing your staff, which likely is comprised of more than just men: is that inclusive language? Absolutely not. Simple shifts to more broad terms, like “all,” “team,” or even “folks” can go a long way in making your employees feel more comfortable.
Lean on Leaders
Leading by example is imperative to ensuring a cohesive message is getting across. The leadership and management in your organization, for instance, should be cheerleaders for the inclusivity you’re attempting to promote throughout your business. Don’t discount the importance of inclusivity training, either!
Remember Brand Awareness
It’s not enough to have an inclusive business culture. It’s wonderful, to be sure – and it’s what will attract people to want to work for you. But your business brand also plays a critical role in promoting your values as a company. Your people are a reflection of your business just as much as your marketing materials, community involvement, and the social initiatives you promote. What does the “personality” of your company say about your values? Are you standing up for inclusive social organizations? Are you donating to charities that promote diversity? Do your marketing materials boast a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and lifestyles? Your existence as a business needs to reflect outwardly all the great inclusive efforts you’re working toward indoors. Otherwise, no one will know what you really stand for.
When we start to put effort into becoming more inclusive, we are likely to learn a whole lot of cool things about our peers. Those who are more marginalized can teach us amazing things about aspects of our society we may not be aware of—and that knowledge will slowly minimize a lot of our cultural biases. Celebrate the differences we all have. You might just see a significant change in employee morale now that everyone is free to speak about the things that are truly important to them.
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