4 Ways To Create A Wonderfully Inclusive Workplace
As we celebrate Pride Month and the remarkable contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to our lives and our businesses, take this opportunity to assess your workplace inclusiveness.
Are you doing all you can to foster a healthy and diverse environment? Can you do better?
It doesn’t take a 30-page white paper or formal research study to understand how diversity will positively impact your company’s success. As well as being the right thing to do in supporting the health and well-being of individuals, inclusiveness also increases employee engagement and productivity, leads to more creativity and innovation, and ultimately boosts your bottom line.
So, specifically, what can you do right now to create a more inclusive workplace for your team?
1. Enlighten your leaders about inclusion and diversity
Acceptance begins at the very top (although a top-down approach is not the complete answer, as everyone must embrace inclusiveness to truly make a difference). But your executive team will be a major ally in assuring success, while integrating inclusivity into your company’s core values.
Begin by educating your C-suite on the many rewards of inclusion, both from an emotional and financial standpoint. Include hands-on training, such as workshops, that allow leaders to roll up their sleeves and practice what they preach. If you have Employee Resource Groups, get leaders involved as Executive Sponsors to advocate on behalf of those groups. If you have the resources, and haven’t done so yet, also consider hiring a Chief Diversity Officer who can assess practices across your entire organization. If not, create an internal diversity and inclusion panel that’s representative of the organization you’d like to build.
2. Write job descriptions that appeal to a broad group of talent
It’s amazing how even with the best intentions, dividing language creeps into job descriptions. And since they’re often the gateway to your company and an introduction to your brand, it’s critical to write job descriptions that embrace everyone. Remember, there are some 13 million LGBTQ+ folks in the workforce (with an estimated 50% not yet out of the closet), and you don’t want to alienate such a large and valuable workforce.
Start by weeding out gendered language like “men, women, he, she,” and other divisive words. Replace them with “they, all, everyone, people, folks,” and other inclusive works. Another tip is, when listing job perks, mention holidays and activities that celebrate diverse groups, as well as your support for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Also, when job seekers take the next step, consider adding the question “What are your pronouns?” to online job applications.
3. Build inclusion into interviews and your hiring process
Similarly, be aware of gender language when you talk to a job seeker in person. For example, if someone mentions their former boss “Kelly,” don’t make assumptions and refer to the person as “he” or “she.” Use “them” or “they” instead.
Although you want to get to know someone in an interview, don’t stereotype. Face it, not all tall men are interested in chatting about basketball. And people in the LGBTQ+ community are like everyone else, with a world of different interests. Let the applicant lead the introductory conversion, and then you follow with additional thoughts. You want every candidate to feel welcome and accepted. And as mentioned above, ask the person what pronouns they prefer. This helps puts you both at ease. Make sure that at every step of your inclusive interviewing and hiring process, the person realizes that this is a company that values their individuality.
4. Create a workplace that’s friendly for all
More than simply ordering Pride Month Cupcakes and adding a Juneteenth graphic to your social media, and calling it a day, work towards creating a true culture of inclusiveness. What does that involve?
It starts with an open and collaborative environment. Consider training all staff to recognize unconscious bias and microaggressions in the workplace, so everyone can develop tools to create a more inclusive culture. People who realize that they belong, and have a voice, are motivated to express their opinions and add to your company’s innovative thinking and success. You might also consider gender-neutral restrooms and locker rooms. Encourage everyone to add their pronouns to email signatures and biographies in communication tools. Review your dress code to make sure there are no gender-based guidelines or rules, and modify them if there are.
The rewards will be immediate and impressive
Naturally, this is just scratching the surface of what you can do to create a warm and inclusive workplace. Continue embracing these steps and you’ll soon find even more ways to encourage a healthy and accepting environment. The results are certain to pay big dividends for your team’s success and well-being.