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Guide To Developing An Inclusive Work Environment

Updated: Apr 17

There’s a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is illegal to discriminate, but discrimination creates problems between team members and leads to a less productive workplace. With four generations in the workplace, don’t wonder why diversity is vital in the workplace. Find ways to create an inclusive workplace.

What Makes A Work Culture Inclusive?

Inclusion in the workplace starts by making everyone feel important and welcome, regardless of age, gender, background, and ways of thinking. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was established in 1967. Here we are in 2022, over 50 years later, still trying to eliminate ageism in the workplace. And now, leaders have to integrate team members with even more differences. Changing the workplace culture isn’t always easy, but diversity in the workplace has many benefits.

Importance Of Diversity At Work

Researchers have studied diversity in the workplace for decades, so we have plenty of scientific studies to support inclusion and diversity in the office. When team members feel included and heard, they make better business decisions. Team performance improves when people feel included. Innovation increases through diversity and inclusion. When team members feel like they have a voice in the workplace, they’re much more likely to care about their job.

Evaluate Your Current Work Environment

Measuring diversity in the work environment isn’t easy. It’s challenging to measure subjective topics like fair treatment or psychological safety. Creating a metric that helps you determine diversity and inclusion in the workplace may take some listening and self-reflection. If your team isn’t diverse, to begin with, they may not even realize that they aren’t inclusive. For example, a team of all men may not even be aware that they don’t include women in their decision-making. The women on your team may not be aware that men aren’t taking parental leave.

Many workplaces have looked at diversity in hiring but forget to check how diverse and inclusive their promotions are. Maybe you’re getting minorities in the door, but they may not be moving up the chain of command. When evaluating your current work environment for diversity and inclusion, you can’t always rely on the current team. This might be a great time to get someone with diverse experience to look at your workplace with a fresh eye. Establish diversity initiatives that give you more options. Think about how to bring diversity from the top.

Part of your evaluation needs to include ways to avoid negative impacts on others that could trigger claims of ageism or racism. While you may want to have more minorities in the workplace, you don’t want to push out seniors or non-minorities. Diversity and inclusivity aren’t about strict quotas but about making sure each person is heard and respected.

How To Develop An Inclusive Culture

Creating an inclusive culture will take time. It doesn’t start with mid-level team members. Inclusion and diversity begin at the top. C-leaders will have to model diversity behavior and commit to inclusion to get the rest of the company on board. As things change, there may be some discomfort. Here are some ideas for creating a more inclusive culture.

Make Sure People Feel Safe

It can be challenging to speak out when employees aren’t sure how it will be received. Many of today’s topics in the workplace are politicized, and people get defensive when discussing these themes. If employees are afraid to talk about non-gendered bathrooms, you won’t get the information you need. Before you start creating resource groups to find out what is required, consider your current culture and address how to make sure your team can bring their genuine concerns about diversity to the leadership.

Actively Listen

Spend time with employees to get a feel of what they want to see in diversity and inclusion. Make sure you include the minorities in these sessions. Provide ways for everyone to share their thoughts. Otherwise, you’re only going to hear from those in the majority, who may not even realize they aren’t diverse. Get input from different user groups to make sure you hear from a diverse group of people.

Make a Plan

As you listen to employees about the problems they see about diversity and inclusion, determine how the leadership can make changes. Look at other companies having success in diversity and inclusion in their workplace. lists Microsoft, Target, Gap, Allstate, and Intel as some of the top companies with diversity and inclusivity programs. Coca-Cola has embraced diversity in its program for generations. Remember “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” in 1971?

Creating a diverse workplace isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time to examine your policies and look for unintentional biases that prevent diversity. But once you start, it will help create a better workplace for everyone.


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