June marks Pride Month 2021, during which the influence that LGBTQ+ people have had around the world is celebrated.
Our MERJE Together campaign is all about recognising the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive work environments which are made up of employees from various backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles.
We believe that people should come to work without fear of discrimination and be able to collaborate as equals to create exciting new ideas and perspectives which lead to increased productivity.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Deloitte, 80% of respondents said that inclusion plays an important part when it comes to selecting an employer. This is because it helps them to feel more valued, loyal and engaged, alongside increasing feelings of well-being.
Here, we look at how best to create an inclusive workplace.
Make connections with employees
To build an inclusive workplace, it's important to lead by example. Think about the relationships you have with your employees and whether you interact and communicate with them in a way which makes them feel comfortable.
An inclusive office should provide a safe space where people can feel they’re able to talk without being judged. This is why it’s vital to connect with people openly and authentically and never make assumptions about their background or lifestyle choices, letting them open up to you first instead.
Be aware that this might result in challenging conversations as not everyone will necessarily have an inclusive attitude. If this is the case, it’s important to know what to do if an employee judges or excludes someone for sharing different beliefs, chiefly having the ability to stand by the beliefs which will set your organisation apart as being progressive and forward thinking.
Embrace an open-minded attitude
Make the effort to put assumptions and stereotypes to one side as this will automatically make for a more harmonious working atmosphere. To that end, it’s then possible to learn important aspects of other cultures and backgrounds which you might well incorporate into your own business for the greater good.
Doing so, will help you to ascertain which responses are appropriate in a given situation, as well as allowing you to open up to hearing the opinions of others. Over time, this attitude will allow you to be increasingly open to change, which can pave the way for overarching success.
Celebrate points of difference
Invite your employees to share their traditions with the wider company. This not only helps them to feel included, but also has the added value of educating others and making them aware of other cultures.
Ways to do this include creating a shared calendar where employees may add events which are important to them, such as Eid, Hanukkah and Chinese New Year, to name a few. Where appropriate, they can then be celebrated and acknowledged during the working day.
Having a designated space for people to privately pray, meditate or reflect when they need to means that people don't have to choose between their beliefs or professional lives.
Try organising a monthly workshop on topics such as gender identity, mental health or common stereotypes as a way to teach employees about the importance of cultural diversity.
Conduct meetings differently
During meetings, people should feel like they can speak up and contribute to whatever is being discussed, without fear of being embarrassed.
A good strategy is to create a meeting plan and send it to all participants so they can think ahead about ideas and suggestions. This is useful for employees who are particularly shy about speaking in public as it gives them time to build their confidence so they’re able to share what they want to say. It’s also a helpful device for assisting those who don’t have English as a first language as it helps them to understand what’s being addressed.
If someone came up with a good idea, a meeting provides the perfect platform to share their achievements. This will encourage others to come up with their own ideas, which will in turn add a vibrant dynamic to the team.
Make sure that you speak to people in a way which promotes inclusion and makes everyone feel equal. This means that, if someone doesn't understand a certain concept, they won't be afraid to speak up and ask for further clarity.
Create employee toolkits
It's possible that some of your employees aren't yet comfortable with whatever differences they might have compared to the rest of their team.
Employee toolkits provide a great way to explain any differences between team members. Start by introducing a companywide, anonymous questionnaire to ascertain what peoples’ individual needs are. Based on their replies, create an information package which addresses the topics and areas flagged in the questionnaire so that everyone understands the rationale behind them.
Promote workplace safety
Your office should be a safe space for everyone and minorities should never feel like they’re being placed in a dangerous situation when they come to work. If someone has a complaint, take the time to listen, speak to everyone involved and take the necessary disciplinary step, if required, to determine a fair outcome. This sort of conflict resolution will prevent similar situations from arising.
Be vocal about inclusion
Several easy ways to be clear on your inclusion stance are to include it as a core value in your onboarding material. Doing so means that new employees will grasp how important it is to accept others and their differences.
Include it on your website too so that jobseekers are aware of where you stand. Go one step further and celebrate it on your social media channels. This could include a post about Pride Month, holidays, festivities and other calendar dates such as Mental Health Awareness Month. A diverse and vibrant social media presence will attract the right people to your organisation.
Taking steps to make your employees feel heard and valued will go far when it comes to establishing an inclusive workplace. Once they realise that you’re making the effort to celebrate their differences and beliefs, they’ll be all the more willing to go the extra mile.
If you’d like to discuss this or any of the topics covered in our articles, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org