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What is an inclusive work environment?



As they say: diversity is being invited to a party; inclusion is being asked to dance.

In today’s times we, as HRs, are responsible of creating a workplace where everyone can feel included, heard and respected. Diversity and inclusion are a must for companies which want to reach the peak of their competitiveness. Bersin by Deloitte research has found that companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.
An inclusive work place is a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees.

Why is it important for your company?

A survey by Forbes Insights of more than 300 senior executives – 32% who were in HR or talent management – found their companies’ diversity and inclusion priorities include:

  • 65% said recruitment of diverse employees
  • 44% said retention of diverse talent
  • 35% said ensuring diversity in the workplace
  • 29% said developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent
  • 28% said managing cross-generational issues

In many companies, inclusion simply means having an equal employment policy tacked to the door or as a section in the staff policy dossier. But inclusion is so much more than the written word. It is the collective of actions, behaviors and gestures that make everyone, no matter what diversity they bring to the table, feel included as part of the bigger collective.

So what’s the first step to building a truly inclusive workplace?

It starts with education. People need to understand what it means to be inclusive. If you leave it as voluntary, then you are basically preaching to the converted (same old faces). You need everyone in attendance so that you can start having conversations to facilitate understanding which then leads to inclusive actions.

If any of your employees do not feel part of the organisation, their personal performance will decline. Exclusion acts as a psychological distraction. It plays on people’s minds and can even lead to paranoia as individuals wonder “what’s wrong with me?” Their stress levels can rise, they’ll avoid collaboration with others and their engagement will plummet. Absenteeism and attrition will increase.

Consequently, productivity, innovation and agile working – the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances – can all suffer. Put simply, if your diversity and inclusion initiatives are focusing primarily on the need for diverse talent, rather than how to make people feel included, aspects of your business are under threat.

If you want to find out more about how we diagnose inclusion in the companies we’re auditing, and how can you do it also in your own company, subscribe to our newsletter to let you know when our next article is published.

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