How to Create and Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Environment

People walking on rainbow street crossing

Perhaps working to improve company culture and workplace environment through diversity and inclusion isn’t a top priority for the CEO of a company; however, it is not one to be overlooked for all the potential benefits that can come from ensuring your workplace is one for everyone.

From worklogichr.com, research has shown many benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Companies that are more diverse than average had 19% higher innovation revenues in 2018.
  • In that same year, 43% of companies with diverse boards achieved higher profits.
  • Companies that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to achieve above-average financial returns.
  • Diverse teams are 87% better at decision-making.

However, companies must commit to not only ticking off the boxes of what it looks like to have a diverse workplace, but also putting in the work to have an inclusive one as well.

As greatplacetowork.com explains, Diversity and inclusion are two interconnected concepts—but they are far from interchangeable. Diversity is about representation or the make-up of an entity. Inclusion is about how well the contributions, presence and perspectives of different groups of people are valued and integrated into an environment.

An environment where many different genders, races, nationalities, and sexual orientations and identities are present but only the perspectives of certain groups are valued or carry any authority or influence, may be diverse, but it is not inclusive.

“We often forget the ‘I’ in the D&I conversation,” says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “The challenge is in having a culture where all employees feel included. It’s a major investment to bring talent into your organization, so why bring them in if they’re not happy when they get here? You’ve got to get the inclusion part right.”

So how can you ensure your company is not only diverse, but inclusive as well? Below are five strategies from kazoohr.com for creating an inclusive environment:

  1. Educate your leaders

    Educate your company’s leaders about the importance of inclusivity. This includes offering diversity and inclusivity (D&I) training at the C-suite level. It also means creating a safe space for your leaders to ask awkward or embarrassing questions “behind the curtain” before leading inclusivity initiatives company-wide. Once leadership is comfortable and on board, they’ll be fantastic resources for setting an authentic, inclusive tone for all.

  2. Model Inclusive Language

    You can be a powerful agent of change by walking the walk — and, well, talking the talk. In all professional communications, model inclusive language. Learn and use the preferred pronouns for employees in your company, and use “spouse” or “partner” rather than the gendered “husband” or “wife” to refer to someone’s spouse (especially if you don’t know their gender). Partner also works for non-married couples, too.

    As always, be very careful to avoid using harmful language. If you do, apologize correctly and do the work to ensure you won’t repeat the mistake.

  3. Create Safe Work Spaces

    Many companies have already done a wonderful job promoting non-binary and genderqueer inclusion by providing gender-neutral restrooms.

    If your organization hasn’t already created such a space, consider it. Think, too, about other needs for privacy and safe spaces at work, such as lactation rooms for new mothers, prayer or meditation spaces, and quiet workspaces for workers who may be distracted or overstimulated by open floor plans.

    Full remote? This extends to the remote space as well. Create digital safe “spaces” by encouraging employees to add pronouns to their email signatures and user names. Invite employees to reserve time for prayer and other personal needs by blocking it out on the calendar. Honor introverts by making digital culture events optional.

  4. Emphasize Inclusivity in Diversity Training

    You know that diversity and inclusivity aren’t the same thing — but do your employees? It’s possible to have a diverse workplace that isn’t inclusive. Minority employees, though present, may feel excluded or like they aren’t represented in the workplace culture. Raise awareness of that nuance explicitly in training so that employees can fully embrace the diversity around them, and develop the soft skills to thrive in a diverse environment.

  5. Create Events and Initiatives Focused on Inclusivity

When it comes to planning work events and initiatives that celebrate inclusion, the sky’s the limit. So host Pride Month mixers, screen documentaries during lunch, or invite guest speakers who cover a diverse range of topics.

On top of that, make sure your organization’s activities promote and support diversity as well. Who are you inviting to public-facing events? Which charitable causes does your company support during volunteer days and fundraisers? All of these are great opportunities to foster team-building and morale as you actively celebrate your inclusive workplace culture.

These are only a few suggestions to get you started on your journey to a more diverse and inclusive work environment. There are many more resources out there to ensure you’re taking all the right steps to create a more accepting company culture and one where everyone feels recognized and celebrated.