A diverse and inclusive workplace is one in which all voices are heard and respected. Workplaces that value inclusivity tend to experience stronger employee engagement. And engaged employees are more productive, more loyal, and less likely to leave for another opportunity. Fortunately, it only takes a few simple steps to make your company more inclusive.
How Can You Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace?
Watch Your Language
Words matter. Always choose person-centered and inclusive language, such as “person with a disability” or “parental leave.” Ask people which pronouns they prefer, such as he/him or they/them. Also, speak with your employees about their preferred cultural descriptors, such as “Hispanic” or “Latinx.”
Consider Comfort and Safety
From workspace layout to workflow, always consider your employees’ safety and comfort. Single bathrooms with grab bars can address the needs of both transgender employees and those with disabilities. Ramps, Braille maps, and designated parking spots can help your workers with disabilities navigate the workplace. Cross-departmental working groups can ensure that people from different backgrounds have the opportunity to learn from each other.
No matter how open-minded you are, nothing substitutes for lived experience. Hold frank conversations with your workers, both one-on-one and in groups, to discuss their preferences and needs. Also, keep the lines of communication open through anonymous surveys, workshops, and multiple options for workers to provide feedback.
Accommodate Religious and Cultural Holidays
Few workplaces can close down for every single holiday that someone might celebrate. But you can offer floating holidays that give people time off on the days that are important to them. You can also observe major cultural or religious times of year, such as Rosh Hashanah or Ramadan, with appropriate workplace acknowledgments.
Mandate Diversity and Inclusivity Training
Diversity and inclusivity training in the workplace focuses on removing prejudices and stereotypes while teaching everyone to embrace each other’s differences and work together productively. It works best when everyone in the organization undergoes the same training, from janitorial staff to the CEO. And it shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Ongoing diversity and inclusivity training keeps it top-of-mind for everyone.
Offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs are employee-led, completely optional groups centered around identity or role. For example, your female employees might organize a “Women in Manufacturing” group, or your LGBTQ+ workers might develop their own group. The goal is not exclusivity, and many of these organizations open their membership to all. Instead, the point is to provide safe spaces for people to share their thoughts and build stronger workplace bonds. In many cases, they will identify areas that could use improvement and bring suggestions to the table to improve inclusivity for all.