15 Actions You Can Take Today to Make Your Company More Inclusive | Part 1

More and more companies are focusing on ‘diversity’ for the sake of ‘diversity’, leaving out the important work behind it. Because, a ‘diverse team’ says nothing if the companies isn’t working actively to reform and create an inclusive space. If people don’t feel respected, welcomed and treated equality within a ‘diverse’ team; you might have ticked off the boxes, but didn’t contribute to anything. So let's start doing the work! And make a real impact for your team.

October 20, 2021

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Inclusion

15 Actions You Can Take Today to Make Your Company More Inclusive | Part 1

To get your mind thinking about the ways you can actively work on creating a more inclusive workspace, we created a “completely-not-completed” list of fifteen things you can do starting today. Please note that the topic of ’inclusion’ is wide and complex, making it impossible to capture all the nuances in a list-blog. Yet we hope this blog does spark change within the company for further progress towards a more inclusive workplace.

1. Integrate ‘inclusion’ as part of your business plan and core values.

Inclusion should not be an add-on, outside the company’s core business. It should be integrated into the core of your brand. By doing so, you send a message to all stakeholders that you value and respect all people, while working to create an inclusive work environment.

Making inclusion part of your core business values is an internal compass that releases the time and money mindset. If inclusion is a vital part of the company’s core, values like honesty, transparency, and fairness filter through to your business processes and educate staff and team leaders on the importance of being accountable to these core brand principles.

2. Recognize biases.

Everybody must deal with their own conscious and unconscious biases, whether through culture and society, or upbringing and environment. It’s important to recognize personal biases and challenge the biases the company holds. For example, using minority groups as a one-direction sounding board where you just fire questions at them means that you may not have considered how this approach is received or understood. especially if the groups have a cultural history of oppression. Technology may help with many digital (and print) tools out there, like this questionnaire developed by Learning for Justice. Normalize exercises like this within your company and address issues in open meetings.

3. Create gender-neutral bathrooms.

If you want to create a truly inclusive workplace it’s important to address the wide spectrum of gender identities. Conversations about respect and safety for all genders and gender-expressions should be a vital part of any inclusive workspace.

Developing a gender-neutral bathroom gives non-binary, gender-non-conforming, and trans people the signal that your company truly values people beyond cis-gender conforming employees. Still unsure about how to process this? Read this article by the Unitarian Universalist Association that goes more in-depth about the great benefits of gender-neutral bathrooms and how to put these ideas into action.

4. Model inclusive languages.

Words have power. As clichéd as it sounds, it holds true to this day. The words you use can project much more than their simple definition, with many loaded with negative social and political meaning. So be aware of the words you choose.

Standardize asking for someone’s ‘partner’, rather than assuming they have a ‘husband’ or ‘wife’. While at the same time, consider that many people choose to not have a partner.

Generalize greetings, for example, by saying ‘Hello people’, rather ‘Hello boys’ and ‘girls’. Include everyone in the gender and sexual orientation spectrum.

For a deeper understanding of this topic, we highly recommend this article by Sabrine Sczesny in Frontiers Psychology. For hands-on tips, download the list found on ‘Model the use of inclusive language’ in the Guide to Leading Inclusive Schools and make it available to all your team members at your next team meeting.

5. Normalise asking people for their pronouns.

Encourage all employees to provide pronouns in their e-mail signature, businesses and when introducing themselves.

Instead of assuming someone would like to use a certain pronoun, respectfully ask them. When someone corrects the pronoun you used, say thank you and move on. Don’t make a big fuss about it. Remember their pronoun of choice and make a habit of telling people yours.

For a comprehensive list about how to normalize pronoun introductions, print out this PDF from the Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Gender and Sex Development Program, and in your next team meeting go through the items.

6. Create safe spaces and promote continuous feedback among peers and management.

We already touched upon this in the last 5 steps, but we can’t stress it enough. Creating a work culture that emphasizes feedback and open conversation leads to business success. Everyone in your company should feel safe to share their ideas and feedback and feel respected when doing so.  

Ways to do this include, having a one-on-one conversation on a regular basis or creating a ‘feedback box’ where people can anonymously (and preferably digitally) give feedback on anything within the business. Use team meetings to focus on internal issues and problems solving besides the day to day business.

Make transparency a vital part of your company’s DNA. Open-up about business processes and work ethics, and make your team feel like a valuable and vital part of the company. Read this short article by Impraise about how to create an open feedback culture with your team.

7. Broaden your holiday calendar to include all religions.

Small changes can have a big impact, and this is one of them. Once you expand your holiday calendar and include holidays outside your personal norm, you show recognition and develop inclusion for everyone.

A great resource to update yours is this blog by Kazoo. You might not include all the holidays and special days to your calendar, but it’s worth taking the time to review and decide, together with your team, what days you would like to pay special attention to.

8. Create flexible working or re-think why you have structured your working hours as you have.

Instead of simply following what other companies do, rethink your office hours and think about the impact long days have on your employees. Studies have shown that people will fill their time no matter what. Meaning that if you give someone 8 hours a day to work or 4 hours to do the same work, they will most probably be able to achieve the same output. It’s called Parkinson’s Law, which is the adage that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”, read more about this in the Economist Article ‘Parkinson’s Law’.

Creating flexible hours can make your company more inclusive and accessible because employees have more freedom to build their work around other responsibilities. By understanding that not everyone has the capacity to spend all day, every day focused on their work, companies can build intelligent working patterns that achieve company goals and support different lifestyles. This can include employees needing to care for a sick family member, needing a second job to pay bills (if this is the case, please review the salary you give your employees ASAP), having a (young) family, or suffering from a (long-term) health condition.

Read all about the pros of flexible hours in this article by Career, and see how re-thinking and re-shaping your office hours might make a huge impact on your efficiency, innovation, and overall creativity.

You might be wondering where the rest of the 15 points are. Answer – Part 2! We figured the best way to retain all the benefits of this post was to split this blog into two parts. Excited to read more? Go to our Blog page and read part 2 now!