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7 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Environment for Employees

7 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Environment for Employees
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Today’s workforce is diverse. Any company seeking to maximize employee productivity and improve staff efficiency should foster an inclusive environment for employees.

What does an inclusive work environment look like?

Basically, it’s a workplace that values and respects employees’ individual differences. It also promotes equal opportunities and encourages collaboration among employees from diverse backgrounds.

An inclusive environment makes employees feel recognized. They feel a sense of ownership, which can propel them to higher levels of productivity. Above all, inclusive work environments boost employee engagement

How can your organization attain an inclusive workplace?

Here’s a look at seven strategies for creating an inclusive environment for employees.  

 

1. Drive Leadership Commitment

Creating an inclusive environment for employees in any organization starts with a commitment from its top leadership.

As a leader, you should communicate the importance of diversity and inclusion to managers and other people in positions of power. Ensure that practical initiatives towards inclusivity are integrated into your firm’s overall strategy. 

The good news is that most leaders in organizations appreciate the benefits diversity and inclusion can bring to their organizations. Find out why embracing diverse work styles is your leadership superpower.

A 2022 study by CIPD showed that 78% of senior management understands how an inclusive environment for employees can benefit their organizations. 

These findings align with the 2022 Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey by AON. It shows that senior leaders at 93% of companies involved in the study strongly supported and sponsored diversity and inclusion initiatives.

By actively supporting and championing these initiatives, leaders set the tone for implementing diversity and inclusion in their companies.

2. Diversity Training and Education 

Implement comprehensive diversity training and educational programs for all employees. This strategy helps your organization raise awareness about unconscious biases and stereotypes.

Choose a training program that’s focused on helping workers recognize implicit biases that affect decision-making and perpetuate inequalities.

When you empower employees at all levels, they will make objective and fair decisions. This, in turn, gives better outcomes in recruitment, performance appraisals, and promotions.

Diversity educational programs have more benefits. Here are some examples:

  • - They equip employees with the necessary knowledge to foster inclusive behavior among themselves.

  • - Training individuals on cultural competence and empathy helps them understand how their actions impact others.

  • - It encourages respectful and inclusive interactions among employees.

  • - Cultivating skills in active listening and effective communication helps employees remain objective. 

  • - It also helps employees avoid biases.

To design effective educational programs to foster diversity and inclusion:

  • Focus on the needs of the target group.

  • Be practical and tailor the content to address the specific challenges of your organization. 

  • Use interactive delivery methods, including workshops, role-playing exercises, and group discussions.

You could leverage a video CMS platform to provide an immersive and interactive learning experience for employees.  

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3. Adopt Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring Practices

Your human resource department must adopt inclusive recruitment and hiring practices for both freelancers and employees. It’s actually beneficial to your company since you attract a diverse talent pool. 

For instance, when posting listings on job boards or your website, avoid biased descriptions. To create winning job listings, write descriptions that don’t discriminate against certain individuals, especially minority groups.

Check out the infographic below for common hiring biases to avoid.

7 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Environment for Employees

 

Image via Embroker

Make deliberate efforts to reach out to underrepresented groups. This increases your chances of hiring qualified individuals from minority communities. 

You can easily achieve this by using diverse recruitment channels. Post your listings on job boards, social media, and educational or professional organizations that serve these individuals. 

Fortunately, you can also display your social media job posts or company environment on your website. For example, embed LinkedIn Company Feed on a website that contains content like job posts, company activities, employee engagement, and many more. It will help your potential employee to see your social activities directly on the website. 

Alternatively, consider blind hiring processes that allow anonymous resumes. 

These remove personal information and use skill-based assessments to establish the candidate’s abilities. This approach will help your organization avoid discrimination, at least at the initial stages of your recruitment process. 

When conducting face-to-face interviews, adopt a structured and diverse approach to picking successful candidates. 

For instance, constitute a diverse selection panel to help your organization minimize biases. This will ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the interviewees. 

4. Promote Inclusive Policies and Practices 

Review your company policies and practices regularly to ensure they are inclusive and provide equal opportunities for all workers.

Here are some steps you can take:

- For example, most workers within child-bearing age are likely to work for firms that offer paid maternity and paternity leave.

- This is understandable. While it’s a joy for the family, it comes with immense demands, especially for the new mothers. Therefore, it’s imperative for any good employer to support the new parents by offering paid time off.

  • - Implement initiatives that prevent employees from carrying work home. Instead, encourage them to pursue their hobbies or further studies. Such initiatives contribute to job satisfaction. 

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5. Establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs are voluntary employee-led groups within organizations that bring together individuals with common backgrounds. ERGs can focus on various diversity dimensions such as ethnicity, disability, or race.

What’s the importance of ERGs in fostering an inclusive environment for employees?

  • - They allow individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect and contribute to a company’s goals.

  • - They provide crucial support networks and a sense of belonging to members with similar backgrounds.

  • - Members can use these avenues to advocate for policies that address specific challenges, such as racial, cultural, or gender-related issues.

  • - Such groups create platforms for dialogue. Members get an opportunity to air their concerns and gain an audience from senior leadership.

It’s imperative to align the mission of your ERGs/BRGs (business resource groups) with company and member developmental goals. Your ERG leaders can use the 4C assessment model to see how their groups’ missions fit in your company goals. 

The 4C model is the strategic framework used by most businesses when implementing ERGs. It focuses on four areas, as shown in the image below: 

7 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Environment for Employees

Image via Seramount

Key areas of focus in this model are commerce, community, culture, and career. For instance, aligning your ERG objectives with company culture allows the members to fit in your organization and foster inclusivity.

Setting professional goals and focusing A focus on career objectives allows members to grow their talent and become more valuable to your organization. 

Your BRGs should be more than mere social groups. Design them to impact your company and the group members positively.

6. Embrace Open Communication and Feedback

Establish active communication channels to encourage employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions related to diversity and inclusion. 

Here are some things that can help.

  • - Anonymous employee surveys and feedback mechanisms to share sensitive issues without victimization.

  • - Open-door policies.

  • - Town hall meetings. These can be held virtually via the various video conferencing tools in the market today. 

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7. Implement Employee Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs

Employee mentorship and sponsorship programs play a pivotal role in the development and advancement of workers from underrepresented groups. Besides, such efforts contribute to your company’s talent development and eliminate disparities in career progression. 

You can execute this strategy by pairing employees with mentors or sponsors who can provide guidance, support, and opportunities for growth.

For such programs to succeed:

  • - Define their objectives clearly and highlight the desired outcomes, such as career development or increasing diversity in leadership positions. 

  • - Design a detailed program and structure. Consider specific elements like matching criteria, duration, expectations, and the resources required. 

  • - Conduct regular check-ins and provide support to mentors or sponsors.

  • - Establish an evaluation and monitoring framework for such programs.

Conclusion

Employees are more committed and motivated to perform their duties in companies that embrace diversity and inclusion. 

Fortunately, your company can create an inclusive environment for employees. And the top leadership should drive such initiatives. Use the 7 strategies described above to create a workplace that’s friendly for all employees.

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Author Bio:

Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions |  300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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